Benighted Beauty

Of late, it’s not often I deliberately set out to be benighted, but the mood overtook me and a plan was hastily thrown together with only the merest glance towards details. This would of course come to bite my arse much later on, but for now I was enveloped in the warm glow of blissful ignorance, and the steely determination that accompanies many a fine idea.

I was intrigued by the notion of finding out just how dark it had to be before you couldn’t take a photograph, I’d seen YouTube videos of low light performance and read articles on extended exposure times etc, but nothing beats getting into something with your own hands.

Off to Dartmoor then.


As you can see it was well past sunset as I set out on the military track towards New Bridge, this taken with my iPhone and ok a little sprinkle of magic in Photoshop, but you get the idea, some would say it was getting on toward dark. I made New Bridge and then followed a wide sheep path up to the top of East Mill Tor and watched the last of the sun disappear.

To work my boy, to work! Out came the Nikon and the tripod and true to form <Flash> the first shot blew out over the moor, no one else here this time so I just laughed and put the camera into <sod off flash> mode. Mental note must RTFM and program some user settings, if nothing else to give the opportunity for lots of U2 puns. Could I possibly do a whole blog entry using nothing but U2 song titles, hmm.

nightvision4 Three Tors – Nikon D7000, 16-85mm, ISO400, 0.4sec at f/9

I could have pushed the RAW file even more to make it look like daytime and sunset was just starting to happen but this is more representative of the light at that time. I moved around the Tor and set up again taking a few pictures and trying to focus in the small amount of light I had.


East Mill Bivi – Nikon D7000, 16-85mm, ISO800, 15sec at f/11

I was now having to push the ISO up almost with every shot, I repositioned again and tried to focus but it was pitch black in the veiwfinder. Not a problem I thought, I’ll get my trusty Alpkit headtorch and illuminate that rock, manual focusing no problem. Only that’s when the total lack of anything approaching actual planning kicked in. I hadn’t got my torch in the bag.

So I’m sat on the top of a Tor with no torch, nice one. My iPhone didn’t have enough power to provide enough light to be able to focus with so I had to guess the focus take a shot, then review it, adjust, take a shot etc. A bit more long-winded but I got there in the end. Just to put the next picture in ‘focus’ here is a shot on my iPhone taken at the same time.


Actually it is quite amazing given that it is just a phone, and a tiny sensor. any way here’s the Nikon version:


Benighted Beauty – Nikon D7000, 16-85mm, ISO 400, 25 sec at f/11

It was at this point that I could have chilled out with a chocolate bar and a coffee, but alas PPP&PP had meant that my pack contained a lack of either, so I made my way down the flank of East Mill heading for New Bridge. My night Vision is still pretty good and I’m well versed in moving over rough moorland at night, so I was enjoying myself, taking care with each step but relaxed, when I reached the road I put my pack down to re-arrange all the gear and to shed a layer, as I was mucking around I set the camera on a handy rock and fired off this as a last hurrah


Benighted Blue – Nikon D7000, 16-85mm, ISO 3200, 30 sec at f/11

The walk back to the car was peaceful, I’d worked out a really neat way of strapping the tripod across my chest using the rucksack straps which happened to be really comfy and allow me to saunter along with my hands in my pockets. Just like your repeatedly told not to do as a lad, which is why I take perverse pleasure in doing so now.

Still haven’t got round to putting a tick list together for the camera bag, or even putting my headtorch back in the pack. Have made a mental note to make a list though.

It’s as good as it gets some days. Now where’s that list of U2 song lyrics . . .


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