It is my custom most evenings that I am not at work, to walk the dogs in the evening to settle them down for the night. They have their main big walk, swim, play during the morning and this walk is a nice way to round off their day and mine.
We take a couple of short routes, either down to the fire station and back, or out along the highway a short way and back. I have always loved night photography and the different colours and shadows that one gets when photographing at night. Despite that, it rarely occurs to me to actually go and photograph at night, either because I am at work or happily tucked up in bed.
Although I am not in the fire service, I have always felt a degree of associate membership of the global firefighting community as my paternal grandfather, four of his five children and one of his nephews are, or were, firefighters. Granddad served 38 years and finished his career in charge of his fire station. He was a well respected Sub-Officer and had a distinguished career. Dad was extremely passionate about the fire service and equally well respected as a firefighter and junior officer. With the often found hero-worship that sons apply to their fathers, I dreamt of following in his footsteps and becoming a firefighter. My not insignificant myopia prevented me from achieving that particular ambition.
Fire stations and fire engines still hold the same fascination to the adult me as they did the five-year-old me. So walking past the station each night it quickly became my intention to photograph it. For this shot, I used my iPhone 6 Plus and tried out an app called “Camera +” which offers greater control over the camera settings than the standard iOS camera app. Using Camera + I could separately control focus point, exposure and ISO to try and create a clear, balanced shot. Unfortunately, on this particular evening two out of three engines were away, but in many ways, the actual engines were secondary to what I intended to achieve on this occasion. Overall I’m comfortable with the final image, but attempts to reduce the ISO noise in Lightroom did cause some loss of detail.
If I wanted a perfect version of this shot, I would take my SLR and a tripod, it is really the only way to get good night shots. The biggest limitation to iPhone photography is the lack of aperture control, so I have stopped using Camera +. It was worth a try. If I take the tripod, though, my true anorak self will be revealed so I best leave the secret with you…..