December Week 4 – Auld Lang Syne

At the end of the year and the precipice of the next you hear the various musical renditions of Scottish Poet Robert Burns’ 1788  lyrics  “Auld Lang Syne”  written for a traditional folk tune.  Billy Joel performed “Auld Lang Syne” in his live CD titled 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert, and is known to perform it in his concerts during holiday seasons (my favorite)!

Pretty much the words mean “days gone by” or “old times” which we want to remember fondly and not forget yet at the same time look expectantly  to what the new year will usher in.

The San Francisco waterfront intones those sentiments in its holiday lights leading up to New Years.  A wonderful time to photograph holiday lights and skylines is for 15 minutes after sundown.  The sky still has color in it and the edges and silhouettes of the buildings are not yet merging into the darkness of the night.  (Photographed from Pier 1, also a good winter AM location where the first rays of sun turn all the Ferry Building windows orange.)

The lights reflecting in the foreground bay waters become a silky glow when using a slow shutter speed.  At ISO 100 and f/22 you need about 20 seconds to capture the image.  If you want your street lights and other lamps to star set the aperture as small as possible  (f/22, f/29, f/32) while using a fairly wide angle lens.  You will get some vignetting and key-stoning but these can be corrected in your processing software (Photoshop, elements, lightroom, etc.) under lens correction or perspective correction.   Or you could leave it as is for a rather eerie feel.

If I have photographed something grand I enjoy including something intimate or just a portion of the extensive subject.  This section of the bay bridge was photographed in the last light turning the gray painted cables and towers silvery-gold.  Diagonal lines are much more dramatic so why not tilt you camera to add them to your composition.

“And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne”


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