Going on a road trip: just the sound of it is exciting and a bit mysterious, isn’t it? And a photo road trip! Now there’s a great thought…this past weekend I managed to get myself up and out the door long before daybreak for a couple of photo road trips.
Blame it on the TV weatherman: both days we were supposed to have foggy conditions early in the morning here in south Louisiana–just my kind of shooting weather. So I had to get up and go check it out.
Saturday morning I took the short drive down to the Mandeville, Louisiana, to the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain, a spot as familiar to me as an old pair of shoes. There was no fog but it still yielded a nice image or two.
Right before dawn the cloud formations were particularly nice, so I went to work, setting up my tripod on the edge of the seawall and working out the exposure factors: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. In this case, I chose ISO 50, the slowest ‘film speed’ option available on my camera; an aperture of f14 and a time of 2 minutes.
A great way to get a ballpark exposure for this type of situation is to rate your camera ISO really, really fast–say 32000–find a correct exposure, then do the math backwards down to the ISO you want to use. Just remember that every time you divide the ISO in half equals halving the shutter speed, or dropping the aperture 1 full stop. For example, if your correct exposure at 32000 was 1/60th second @ f14, that would equal 4 seconds @ f14 (halving the shutter speed 8 times) at ISO 50.
My digital cable release broke a couple of weeks ago and the replacement hasn’t shown up in the mail yet, so I had to use my finger on the shutter button, the camera set on ‘Bulb’ to make the exposure. I used the timer on my smart phone to calculate the time.
Next I headed over the Fountainebleau State Park, another favorite spot. It was just beginning to get light enough to see a bit, things still murky and low contrast. There was a boardwalk there over a section of marsh that I was hoping had finally been repaired-it was washed away in a hurricane a couple of years ago and last time I checked, still sat destroyed, a victim of state budget cuts as much as the original storm.
The boardwalk was still in ruins, but a massive oak tree along the path leading out that way made for an interesting image.
The next morning I woke up late (5 a.m.) but decided to try the Mississippi Gulf Coast anyway. It’s a bit over an hour to the area I wanted to explore, but I figured if it actually was foggy, it wouldn’t matter since the fog would stick around for an hour or two. If there was no fog, then I was simply late and again, it wouldn’t make much difference.
By the time I reached the Louisiana-Mississippi state line, I could tell there would be fog this morning. It was already beginning to show up in the highway lights at the interchanges along the way. By the time I reached the coast in Bay St. Louis, it was real ‘pea soup’ fog–so thick I couldn’t see the water.
On an earlier scouting trip I had found some things I wanted to revisit and had dropped ‘pins’ using my Google Maps app on my smart phone. This simply makes a note of the GPS location and allows you to email it to yourself. I punched that email back up and lo and behold, there was the spot I wanted, 10 miles down the highway.
I poked along U.S. 90, my windows down, listening for cars as much as watching for them, and pulling over onto the shoulder whenever anything interesting popped up. The fog cooperated too, lasting till about 7:30 in the morning–a good hour and a half of nice shooting light. Here are a two more images from the trip, along with the technical information about how they were shot.
So do you take photo road trips? What sort of gear do you consider essential for such a trip? What’s your favorite time of day for this type of outing? Leave your answers in the Comments below and we’ll chat about it, and thanks!
Equipment Used on This Road Trip
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page ,Google+ pageor our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog