Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Playing with the night


Ok, OK. I’ll show you a couple of my failed night images from last weekend’s trip to Traverse City. My excuses are many, most I blame on the cold wind, rain, and sleet. And fumbling fingers, and bad eyes.

It was a dark and stormy night.

And remember, none of this is the fault of our instructor. She would have gone to the same locations in the same weather and found something much more worthy of your perusal.

The photos here are after I’ve messed with them a bit in Lightroom. I can’t show you the original images because they were shot in RAW and apparently WordPress won’t allow them. They’re probably too big. Or something. Plus when I went back to change the originals into JPEGs in Lightroom they had been replaced with the edited versions and it’s just too much work to go upload the originals and try again. I’ve barely figured out how to get this far.


We started out at the Traverse City marina where the waves were crashing over the end of the pier and the rain was beginning to drive sideways.

That first image up at the top was at the marina. I was pointing at nothing in particular, trying to figure out my camera settings and I accidentally set off the shutter. It turned out very very orange, but the neat thing about shooting in RAW is that when you go to edit it you can change the white balance. So I did. Plus I tweeked a few other things…still, it’s a weird shot and not one I’d normally show you.

The person in the left corner is another of our students, wearing his red headlamp. I liked the reflection in the puddle. That’s about all I liked in this one.

Shortly after that shot I was messing around with the camera, thinking I might get some wave action when a Traverse City Police officer drove up, while my shutter was open, to find out what kind of fool was out in that weather. So this is what I got.

And then there was light.

The original image was completely blown out by white light. So I found it interesting to see that I could push that much light back and still see something. Even though, once again, it wasn’t a shot of anything I really liked.

Still trying to get a shot of the waves crashing over the concrete barrier we tried to use headlights from our own car shining out over the bay.

Caught a little bit of a wave.

It didn’t really work, but still, after editing, it kind of tells you how cold and wet it was that night. The only warmth is the red light shining from my neighbor’s headlamp.

After we gave up on the marina we drove way out to a lighthouse. By the time we got there it was snowing wet sleety flakes. And the wind had picked up.

Oh joy.

It was difficult to face into the wind coming off the lake and take pictures of the lights of Traverse City to the south. So we focused, out of self preservation, on the unlit lighthouse behind us.

Standing in all kinds of weather.

I set the camera up, choosing 28 seconds of exposure, and someone lit the lighthouse up with a pen light for a moment. It’s called light painting. It’s not perfect, and my lens had drops of water on it. But it was fun.

This image doesn’t begin to convey how cold and windy it was out there that night. By the time we headed back to the car we were all soaked through our many layers of clothes.

But my goodness it was fun!

I want to try again some night when it’s not 28 degrees (-2.22 C) with driving snow. Some night when the stars are out and the air is fresh with spring would be good. I’m already scouting out locations.

And I’m beginning to mess around with Lightroom. Between the instruction I received last weekend, and a book I have I’m starting to make sense of it.

My favorite lighthouse

I haven’t found the straightening tool, and I’m having trouble figuring out how to import just one photo instead of the entire folder. And I know there’s oh so much more that I haven’t found yet.

But I’ve started. And that’s the hardest step in any learning process.

It’s a long road.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

18 thoughts on “Playing with the night

  1. Learning experiences, all. Good for you for going for it! My son, by the way, swears by Lightroom. In case you’re interested, here’s a link to one of his websites:


    • I think it’s pretty cool myself…I just have to learn the basics (like importing!) before I get all excited about all the stuff I can do with it. Your son’s photos are exquisite. I think he gets his talent from his mom.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. While I’m busy promoting, here’s his current website:


  3. This is so cool, Dawn! Night shots in Weather seem like a good thing to work on because of the way it affects the light. If I may:
    1) Most photo-editing applications should read RAW *if* they’ve been updated to understand that particular raw format. Every manufacturer is different and even cameras w/in the mfg can be different as the format evolves. So there’s no way that tools that simply display photos (like wordpress) are ever likely to correctly read raw files.
    2) I like the first shot quite a bit–it’s unusual and the lines of the clouds radiating out from the red in the corner are pretty cool. Not sure what one can really do with it at the moment, but there are cool aspects.
    3) To import one photo in LR, in Library, click Import, select your folder. This should show thumbs of all the images in the folder with checks in their little boxes. (It grays out any that you’ve already imported) At the bottom, click Uncheck All. Now just check the image(s) that you want to import right now.
    4) Lightroom doesn’t actually ever replace OR change your original files, so it didn’t replace your raw w/jpeg. It saves the editing info in a “sidecar” file (if you look in Finder (mac) or windows, you should see for edited files the original raw file (e.g., myphoto3.rw2 or whatever your camera appends to those files) and the “sidecar” (e.g., myphoto3.xmp). What LR does is to display as the thumbnail or view the combo of your raw + sidecar edits.
    That’s the background. Now–the thing that LR does is saves your edits as a sequence of steps. When your photo is open in the Develop mode, on the left side (by default) there should be a History panel with an arrow to open it to show all the steps you’ve done on it. You can click at the bottom–the first edit being your original import–to see what it looked like at that point, and if you want to, you can export that as a JPEG for loading into wp. CAUTION: When you’ve clicked an earlier step and don’t click back up to the top (latest) step, it continues building on where you’ve most recently clicked, thereby erasing everything that you did after that. SO if you want to keep that sequence but try again from the beginning, it has this thing called virtual copies (so you’re not using much space on your disk)–and you’ll have to check in your book or videos on how to use it, because I’ve done it only a couple of times and so don’t remember exactly how it works.
    ALSO at any point you can compare your original upload with your currently displayed version (whichever step in the History you’ve currently clicked on) by clicking at the bottom under the image the button that looks like a Y or a ‘Y | Y’ or Y over a Y… click that repeatedly to compare before & after in different formats. Click the solid rectangle to the left of that to go back to just the currently selected version.

    Hope this helps.

    I love your lighthouse images here! The different lightings in the first one are very cool, as is the solidity of the building vs the storm-tossed blur of the trees. And the 2nd is indeed a nice shot.


  4. It’s so good for the brain to learn new things and so good for us to enjoy your process and seeing the product of your learning. Keep going, Dawn!


  5. I love your last photo, Dawn, and yes, it does show it was taken on a cold day! Kudos to you for taking time to learn something new (and being brave enough to show us your “flops”!)


  6. I like these, especially the one where you labeled “Caught a little bit of a wave.” The wave looks almost ghostly. I admire the way you’re going out and learning new things. 🙂


  7. Nice to hear how much you are enjoying your photography. It is very interesting to read about your night photography. The lighthouse picture is awesome!


    • Thank you! It’s a process, learning something so different than how I do photography in the day. Though some of what I’m learning will apply there as well. I think. I’m still sorting through it all. There’s a lot to learn.


  8. I’m glad you decided to go ahead and post. I learn a lot from reading posts by experienced photographers with gorgeous photos on display. But sometimes it’s refreshing to read a post like this one because it’s nice to see other’s struggles and get to chuckle a bit in commiseration. Most of the time the only struggles I see are my own, even though everyone has them. 😀

    I have a bit more experience at night photography. At least I’ve gotten to the point where I can figure out my settings without needing a light, but it’s definitely challenging and takes practice. You’re way ahead of me when it comes to editing though, even if you’re having to figure out a new program. All I’ve ever done is a few simple adjustments in basic tablet apps and have never touched a fancy editor or a RAW file. You did a nice job of pulling out detail in the blast of light pic.


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