Notes on the High Rock Tower Shoot

On September 2, as the light was fading, I found myself at the top of a tower on the highest spot in the city of Lynn. Most of the visitors were there to view the moon through the city’s nifty telescope. That was fun, but for me the learning experience was finding the right exposure for the cityscape below. It took me a while to realize that the only way I could keep the camera steady for a long enough time to get a more-or-less-in-focus shot was to wedge it between the bars atop the wall surrounding the viewing deck and try to keep it straight. (The real way to get a sharp shot at night, of course, is to use a tripod, a low ISO, and a very long exposure, but my tripod couldn't clear the high stone wall.)

Many of the shots are almost the same, but note the difference a slight shift of focus and tonality make. I was mostly shooting at f/2 or f/2.5 @ 1/5 sec. at ISO 1600 with a fast Canon 50mm 1.4 lens, which becomes a short telephoto on my Canon 7D. This is why the distance between buildings seems compressed.

Take a look.

Thanks to the City of Lynn for opening the observatory. For more info, visit