Thursday, May 23, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Rainy Night at 5th and F in Eureka

Posted By on Thu, May 23, 2019 at 10:35 AM

click to enlarge DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
Rain had come out of the blue and the weather was up in the air. I couldn’t find any stars anywhere, so I lit out to the downtown regions of Eureka, Humboldt County, California to find something interesting in the lights of civilization.

I had in mind finding a fire hydrant to work with as a foreground object in a city street scene. To me the fire hydrant in a city is akin to the lone fence post in the country, it’s one of those subjects that draws me somehow. Not that I have a lot of shots of them at all, but I do think about them. Actually, I’m not really sure I’ve ever focused on one in a composition, but I’ve been collecting images of them in my head.
click to enlarge Hmm, the stars gotta be around here somewhere ... rainy night self-portrait on the corner of 5th and F, Eureka, Humboldt County, California. A long exposure from the night of May 16, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Hmm, the stars gotta be around here somewhere ... rainy night self-portrait on the corner of 5th and F, Eureka, Humboldt County, California. A long exposure from the night of May 16, 2019.
This night I had the bug to track one down and capture it in its native element. I found my candidate in one of the city’s neat yellow and cyan fire plugs down on the corner of 5th and F Streets. It had a certain character about it, and I liked the location for the lighting, the lines and the brick sidewalk.

Rain came and went all evening. Even between showers there seemed always to be some droplets floating in the air and landing on the lens. But the light quality from the city lights was beautiful, reflecting bright, rich colors off of the rain-soaked road’s gritty surface. Long exposures turned car lights to smooth streaks of light and color as they drove through the frame. I loved how the colors were working in the photographs.
click to enlarge The fire hydrant sitting on the corner of 5th and F Streets in Eureka, California. The light streaks in the image are from cars going by. In long exposures such as this, the cars moved almost entirely through the frame while the shutter was open, causing their lights to become streaks. The driving cars themselves are not bright enough to see. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The fire hydrant sitting on the corner of 5th and F Streets in Eureka, California. The light streaks in the image are from cars going by. In long exposures such as this, the cars moved almost entirely through the frame while the shutter was open, causing their lights to become streaks. The driving cars themselves are not bright enough to see.
I’d brought a crystal ball I hadn’t used in ages to incorporate in a photograph somehow. There is something of a mild craze for photographing crystal balls these days, so it’s been in my mind’s eye of late. This crystal ball I bought for photography almost 25 years ago down at Globe Imports along the waterfront. (How many years has THAT place been gone?!) But unfortunately this night the rain was not cooperating, and I’d hardly played with it before I was driven back to the shelter of the car.
click to enlarge I set my crystal ball on the fire plug, holding it securely in place using a specialized compound: chewing gum (I packed it out, too). Looking through a crystal ball turns the world upside-down, but I thought that made the small scene inside it difficult to make out, so I flipped the crystal ball upside down so the scene inside was right side up. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • I set my crystal ball on the fire plug, holding it securely in place using a specialized compound: chewing gum (I packed it out, too). Looking through a crystal ball turns the world upside-down, but I thought that made the small scene inside it difficult to make out, so I flipped the crystal ball upside down so the scene inside was right side up.


I would love to have a clearer crystal ball than this one. Taking a close look at the image I am a little disappointed in the clarity inside the sphere. Somehow, I remembered it being clearer, or perhaps my standards are higher now. I wonder if there are any local marble makers who make totally clear crystal balls that don't stir up the image at all when looked through. Should any such glass artist be reading this, the contact form on my website can put you through to an interested party.

A warning from experience about crystal balls in general: they are fire hazards. Crystal balls are powerful magnifying glasses, and if you set one down in the sun you WILL burn something. Were you ever a kid, or know anyone who was? Then you know about magnifying glasses and the sun. Set it down in dry grass: FIRE! Put it on the table cloth: burn hole or FIRE! Window sill or shelf, even inside the house in the sun? Burn hole or FIRE! If you hold it wrong in the sun, you will get yourself burned, too. Seriously, crystal balls are dangerous if any sun shines on them. Don’t leave them unattended outside or anywhere that direct sunlight will reach them.
click to enlarge Animation showing both the original upside-down image in the crystal ball (the way it actually looked) alternating with the one I turned right-side up. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Animation showing both the original upside-down image in the crystal ball (the way it actually looked) alternating with the one I turned right-side up.

To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, visit or contact him at his website mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx .
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About The Author

David Wilson

David Wilson

Bio:
David Wilson is a Humboldt-grown photographer. His longtime love is creating nighttime images and he enjoys finding and using unique light. David received his Art degree with an emphasis in photography from Humboldt State University. He currently teaches Photoshop in the Digital Media Department at College of... more

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