Nightshooting In Porto

Porto

After the Francesinha Festival in Porto Tuesday night, we made our way to the historic Guarany Cafe to meet some others for beverages. Its central location gave me plenty of opportunities for nightshooting along the way, an activity I very much enjoy (made even more joyful with FX, not just DX) but was one of the sacrifices at the altar of work for what felt like too long.

Living in Toronto, my urban nightshooting consisted mostly of contemporary architecture, streetscenes in different seasons, motion blur… you’ll see an assortment here, in Flickr. There’s an evolution in the photography, I believe, once residence is taken up versus just-passing-through. I haven’t yet created that mental list of places to return to for nightshooting, although bridges and bridges lit at night have a magnetic pull on my eyes. Lucky for me, Porto is situated where the river meets the ocean and thus has lots of bridges. The other thing about Porto is the dramatic layering created by its hilly streets. It avoids the horizontal skyline effect that Toronto has, due to lakeside Southern Ontario being very flat. Instead, Porto and the surrounding area is built on steep riverbanks, which give it a vertical as well as horizontal dimension. Here I often hold the camera in a portrait position to capture the layers.

I don’t take my working cameras everywhere, but I do take the mobile, although it doesn’t come anywhere close to the low-light capabilities of the DSLRs. With the tremendous wave of mobile phone pics flooding social media, there are murmurs and debate over the DSLR becoming too bulky and expensive and getting pushed out of the mainstream. It’s true these devices are bulky and expensive, for the average consumer. But whatever your heart’s desire will always prevail — if you think it’s too much work to carry around the equipment compared to what you are getting out of it, then the capabilities of the equipment won’t be enough to make you carry it around. There’s a big used market for these devices that people buy thinking it will make them like photography more, but end up on a shelf gathering expensive dust. Better for me — I buy from that market, to save money. The results are the same, whether a 100 shutter count or a 100,000 shutter count.

Contrary to perception, nightshooting doesn’t require a tripod unless the exposures are longer than can be achieved either holding very still, against a fixed structure, or setting the camera down on a fixed structure and using a self-timer to reduce the shake from pressing the shutter. All of the photos here were taken hand-held. I don’t like to carry a tripod unless I’m doing a very long motion blur (and if the object is going fast enough, it can be shot hand-held even with a point-and-shoot) or doing a longer exposure like lit objects at night. I’ve learned how to avoid using a tripod in most situations by finding substitutes, like postboxes.

Something I’ve come to appreciate these days in Porto with nightshooting is that I’m not alone here like I was in Toronto. Nightshooting should be done with other people, for safety reasons. As a female travelling solo around the world for many years, I assumed a lot of risk from shooting at night by myself — one particularly dangerous situation in 2007 outside the medina in Fez, Morocco, comes to mind — and I’m relieved to report no harm came to me. Some close calls, but nothing serious. For that I’m grateful, and I’m grateful to not be faced with this dilemma anymore (to shoot or not to shoot at night).

Guarany Cafe/Restaurante, Porto

Porto

São Bento train station, Porto

Porto

Porto

bus blur in Porto

Porto