Oct 9, 2012

Uncle John's Bridge

Actually, it's St. John's Bridge. In Portland. But there's no song in mind for "St. John's Bridge." Walking the lengths of the cables and stanchions a couple of weeks ago, though, I kept singing "Come walk Uncle John's Bridge, by the riverside. Come on along or come alone, he's come to take his children home." See, now you're singing it, too. And if you're not, you will be now (mind the language).

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm, f/8, 5s, ISO 1000, Nik Color Efex 4.
There are a couple things about the making of an image like this I think you should know. Firstly, everyone always asks, "How do you get the rays on the lights?" I think you can do it in Photoshop, but I don't know how, and I don't know why you would when it's so easy to do. All you have to do is use a small aperture (opening in the lens), something like f/11 or f/16. In this image I used f/8, but in my experiences most lenses won't do it this well at such a wide aperture. This lens is pretty unique when it comes to these rays. For instance, the number of rays is usually the same as or exactly double the number of blades in the iris of the aperture (this is my personal observation, and I could be mistaken about the causal relationship). So, the kit lens you may have bought with your camera probably has five blades (every 18-55mm I've seen does) and they usually give off five rays on the lights. This 14-24mm lens I'm using here has nine rounded blades and there are a ton of rays! I think it looks cool. Also, you'll get more defined rays the longer the shutter is open. Which leads to the second part.

Five seconds was the shutter speed and that requires a tripod. The two of us (me and my tripod, that is; I'd love suggestions on a name for her/him...) are standing on the sidewalk making adjustments and triggering the shutter as the traffic drives by. Normally, I love to have traffic in this sort of image because it gives the streaking lines of the car lights as they drive by. But not on a bridge. Every time a car goes by the whole thing shakes and vibrates, pretty much negating the tripod (oh, for a name!). That's why this exposure is so short. I usually do these as 30 seconds with a smaller aperture and a way lower ISO. However, five seconds was the longest I could get between vehicles.

And 'C', always have a light pair of gloves in your bag; you never know how cold it will be 100 feet over the water on a long straight river in the Pacific Northwest.

Next time you're in Portland I hope you'll come down to Saaaaaaint John's Bridge, by the riverside...


  1. That 14-24mm is a huge lens, I have it but I am still on the hunt for a "small" wide angle to take with me when hiking. I have the fixed 24mm but it still isn't quite wide enough.

  2. I know what you mean, Mark--it's enormous and you feel like you'll scratch that bulbous front element. Plus, there are no reasonable methods for filters. Have you tried the 16-35? It may be a good compromise...but I really like those extra two mm.

  3. Very cool! Did you use bracketed photos / HDR to get the clouds?

  4. Zebing, this is just one image. I did use lightroom and Nik Color Efex 4 to increase the brightness of the dark areas, like the clouds.