Ok, not raindrops. But seaspray keeps falling on my lens doesn't sound like a good song...
If it was only raindrops my high-tech plastic bag rain cover (blog post here) would have saved me. Ortaköy at night, in January, was worse than rain…much worse. Rain comes down, this was coming upwards, perhaps at a 45 degree angle!
Firstly, for those who don’t know it: Ortaköy is an area of İstanbul almost immediately under the first Bosphorus bridge. The name of the place literally means middle village, I guess because it is about halfway up the (or down) the straits. The famous shot is of the Ortaköy mosque standing right on the edge of the water. The narrow side streets are famous for trinket shops, small bars, and jacket potatoes stuffed full to the brim (called cümpir). Now, just to make it clear, here in Turkey, an ultra-plain jacket potato still has butter in it! A normal cümpir has everything from peas to sweetcorn, from olives to mushrooms…and butter of course.
Anyway…back to the problem.
As always I had to photograph Ortoköy when I had the opportunity, impossible to plan for the right light and conditions. It was windy, very windy. At night gales were whipping the water of the Bosphorus onto the low sea wall spraying everyone around and it was tough to keep the tripod upright in such conditions.
Hand held day shots were not as bad. The wind wasn’t as strong and the golden hour gave a nice tint to the marble of the mosque. I bracketed some shots as the sky was very bright, the paving dark and wet. The water on the floor meant that reflections were bouncing all over.
Ortoköy as the sunsets, 3 shots bracketed, f/11, 15mm, ISO400
After the sun fell, cue the increased wind…decreased temperature and wild sea spray. Oh, and my muppet moment!
Do not call me names for I know that I am muppet, and this is one of my best to date and, as a results, not one of my best shoots.
I had planned to get shots of the mosque lit up at night with the glowing lights of the bridge in the background...that, at least, was the plan. Very long exposures would also help me blur all people out of the shot, even the ones lingering for the umpteenth selfie.
As always, before trying long exposures, I took a test shot to make sure I had things lined up. Checked it on the back screen and there were a few spray spots spoiling the light stars. Only now did I release that I had left my remote and my lens cloth, in my camera bag…which, unlike me, was nestled in a warm restaurant nearby with my wife.
I know now that I shouldn’t have persevered trying to clean the lens and filter with the inside material of my filter pouch. Albeit it's made of the same material as the lens cloth, I know now that it was unable to clean the lens properly. In the dark by the street lights it had looked clean…but it wasn’t. I know...muppet!
I took another test shot, a quick look, not bad! I really did look clean! Glasses? Where were they? Yep...you guessed.
I didn’t want to leave the spot I had gained. A few other photogs were prowling around for the best spots and many tourists, even on this cold January evening, were milling about. I persevered to get what I could though annoyed that the spots never seemed to be cleared no matter how hard I wiped the filter. ISO was increased to allow the shutter speed to use the max 30 seconds, I couldn't use bulb mode without the remote or a cable release. Filters then were not going to work.
Was this a lack of planning? I had planned it. Or was it just being too keen to get on with taking the images? Honestly, both!
I moved away from the water’s edge to line up some different compositions, damn, it was cold! The spot problem decreased, but it never went away. After about 30 minutes freezing in the cold wind trying different alternatives, I gave up. Huffing in the restaurant to my patient wife drinking her tea.
After looking through the images in the restaurant I contemplated going back out…with the right kit. Or better still, waiting for the next time in Istanbul when I hopefully won’t have to contend with the spray lashing up from the water’s edge. Living in Turkey I usual have a stop over in Istanbul before flying to the UK, so a return in more amicable conditions looked the best option. Most shots I had could not be saved. If not deleted right there and then, they were after importing into Lightroom. I did however manage to get one or two that, when merged to b&w and with a lot of cleaning, I managed to get almost spot free-ish. Believe me, such a gritty black and white had never been my intention, but it made something out of a disaster.
Ortoköy at night, 3 shots bracketed, f/16, ISO100
And there was one, yes one, that I managed to keep in colour. Though sadly heavily flawed.
f/18, 8secs, ISO100
So, don’t be a muppet!
1) If you forget your kit…stop. Go and get it! Spending 10 minutes to collect and reset up is better than losing almost all your shots. Obviously! Doh!
2) Before you charge in to get your top shot. Take a deep breath. Check everything!
This ever happened to you? Share your experiences!
The Frustrated Photog.