Prospect Park

Yesterday evening I was walking home through Prospect Park.  It was getting dark, the sky was filled with fast-moving storm clouds, and it had been raining, but a little bit of sunlight was making it through, every once in a while.  In other words, the light was fantastic, almost unique.  It gave a surreal quality to all the familiar paths, which also looked different because almost none was around.  I wished I had my camera with me, like many other times.  But I didn’t have it, and I was tired  – it’s a long way from Midtown – and I just went home.

Today there was another storm before sunset, but then the sky cleared.  I picked up the gear and went to the park.  Just to see –  I was hoping for the same light.  The light was different, of course, but the green of vegetation was rich, and I got stuck for a while trying to capture the eerie look of this semi-abandoned building.spw_5102-23

I could have caught a better impression of the “mysterious” path, and I know the sky was too bright, and it would have been a better idea to come back later when the lamppost was on.  That’s what I’m thinking now, but when I was there, it wasn’t that obvious.  I guess that’s why I’m writing this now.

I moved on and five minutes later I turn the corner and – holy shit – there’s a rainbow.  I am absolutely unprepared and have no idea what to do.  So, I point the camera at it and take a snapshot.  I even set up the tripod, right there in the middle of the road, and take a few more.  But the pictures I am taking really suck,  because I am in the middle of a road, there are just trees and asphalt and road lights, you know, not the prettiest scene.  I want something nicer in the foreground.  I make my way down the lakeside.  When I get there, there’s a family of swans right there, feeding, mom, dad, and two cygnets.  Neither the swans nor the rainbow will stick around forever, so what do I do?

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I try the rainbow first. I wish I would remember to turn the polarizer – it’s there for a reason, but it seems that the super-amateur which is me can’t focus on details during the creative urges and can’t remember to check its camera settings.  This is the best I can get out of the rainbow.  It doesn’t make it justice because it was really the crispiest, most stereotypical rainbow I have ever seen.

Unfortunately, there were no ponies, and no unicorns, to pair up with the rainbow.  It looked a lot better than that in real life, and still don’t know what I should have done to make the best of it.  It was unreal.  But the swans where there, calm, posing, gently floating on the green scum, and clearly feeling a little jealous of all the attention the rainbow was getting.

They didn’t seem too upset by my being there snapping pictures at them, so I kept going for quite a while. Eventually, I think I got a nice family portrait.

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I could have taken out the 105mm lens for some close-ups, but they looked so good together, and I am really trying to stick to one lens at a time, as a sort of training, especially with the wide-angle lens, which is the one I feel least comfortable with at the moment.

After the swans I went to other areas, tried to get some shots that I could later use to experiment with CS3’s feature “Merge to HDR”.  I did take a few but the experiments didn’t yield anything useful, so I’ll spare you the (unimpressive) results.

There’s always something picture-worthy at Prospect Park at sunset, and often it’s not what you think you will find.  I went there to get the stormy light of the night before, and I instead I got a rainbow and a friendly family of swans, but I wasn’t prepared for them, and I feel I didn’t make the best of it.  I guess the lesson here was to go un-prepared, and ready to *think* when something unexpected comes up, instead of freaking out because you  know that these interesting subjects are not going to be there forever.  Just relax, think about what you’re doing, make sure you’re checking all the settings, and envision the image you want to take.  Easy, no?

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