Through the Rude Wind's Wild Lament...
...And the bitter weather.
Before I started photography, I would often be impressed with images that I would see. I didn't however have the deep appreciation for how much work actually went into capturing some of those images, or the luck involved. Some photographers spend hours, or even days in the same place waiting for just the right moment of sun, or shade, or wind. Sometimes even years going to the same place to capture just the right image. You don't see the extremes that some of them have gone through. You also don't realize how lucky some captures really are.
Every photo tells a story... Every photo has a story... This is the story of one of my favorite images.
Ever since I have been doing photography, I've known that I would like to do a winter image at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My parents have always talked about how beautiful the falls are. They go nearly every year. Sioux Falls decorates the entire park for Christmas. The falls have spotlights to help them stand out in the evening. There always seems to be snow on the ground in December in South Dakota. They way my parents talked about it, I knew that it would make an amazing image.
On December 26, 2016 I would finally get the opportunity to visit Falls Park and capture the image that was in my head. We were there for a family Christmas get-together, and I had convinced my parents to go view the falls. Nevermind that the temperature was -10 degrees. Nevermind that there was a bitter cold North wind blowing. Nevermind that the snow wasn't totally covering the ground. I was going to get my photograph.
I was so excited when we arrived. We followed the path past the Christmas display and headed to the observation tower. And that is when my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. The lights that lit up the falls weren't on. There was an issue earlier and they were turned off until repairs could be done. All I would be able to capture would be waterfalls in the dark.
As I stood at the top of the observation deck, in -10 degree weather, wind biting at my face, I resolved to get whatever I could. I captured a couple images, some even of my family looking out over unlit falls. I still have them all saved, but I rarely look at them. The falls will wait for another day.
And that is when I turned around. The view of the park side of Falls Park, was amazing. We had driven through them on the way to the tower, but I totally ignored them in anticipation of photographing the falls. (I think there is probably a lesson to be learned here...) Cars were lined up on the road driving through, and the church in the background was lit up bright. This had all the makings of a great image.
I moved over to the railing and settled my camera onto it. I knew to capture the image I had in my head I would need to use a slow shutter speed, and that meant the camera would have to be still. I wish I would have remembered a tripod, but the railing would work just fine. I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds, adjusted the aperture to f/16 (that is why the lights have rays coming off of them), manually adjusted the focus, and pressed the button.
It was perhaps the longest 30 seconds of my life. I had to try to hold the camera completely still, in the -10 degree weather and wind. It was SO cold the rest of my family was waiting inside thinking I was some sort of idiot for staying outside so long taking pictures. When the shutter finally closed and the image was saved, I pressed the review button. I looked over the image on the back of my camera and knew that I had nailed it.
It was such a great feeling. I don't know what others think about this image, and don't really care. It was planning, and patience, and luck, and it is absolutely one of my favorite images ever captured.
Song: Good King Wenceslas (Classic Christmas Carol)