Artists of Hawai‘i 2015: Alison Beste’s Oil Tanker Sunsets—musings on the process


 

Alison Beste is an artist featured in the upcoming Artists of Hawaii 2015, opening July 2. Below is her meditation on her work process while shooting for her series Oil Tanker Sunsets one evening. Since the images  require a long shutter, anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes, she spends a lot of time waiting, listening, and watching. For more on the Oil Tanker Sunsets series, see Alison’s previous post.

6:00pm
Check MarineTraffic app. Research type of vessel, location, ship’s trajectory. Determine the evening’s shoot site.

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6:15pm
Gather camera, tripod, thermos of tea. Leave house.

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6:35pm
Battle traffic. Arrive at Kaka‘ako Beach Park. Set up camera, tripod, remote shutter release.

6:38pm
Destination reached! Breathe. Watch the sun slide below the horizon, in an instant it’s gone.

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6:42pm
Wait and wonder when the lights from the tankers will turn on. Drink tea.

6:43
Ship lights turn on. Take a test shot.

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6:45pm
Run a few more tests of the scene. Check ISO, aperture, experiment with shutter speed.

6:46pm
Notice massive cargo ship leaving Honolulu Harbor. Marvel at the sheer size of the vessel and wonder where all those items come from and go.

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6:48pm
Take advantage of lingering ambient light, sky patterns, minimal boat traffic. Click shutter…wait.

6:51pm
Click…wait.

6:55pm
Click…wait. Observe the clouds, lingering surfers, feral cats chasing cockroaches. Listen to the waves. (The beeping is the remote shutter release.)

7:00pm
Review shots. Adjust settings accordingly. Click…wait. Notice couples walking the promenade, teenagers skating, fishermen chatting and drinking Heineken.

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7:06pm
Click…wait. Spot clouds on the Ko‘olau moving quickly toward town. Take out rain gear, cover camera, hope for the best. Click…wait.

7:13pm
Ambient light is fading. Increase shutter speed. Click…wait. Drink tea.

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7:20pm
Click…wait. An elderly woman stops to ask “What are you shooting at this hour?” Briefly explain project. A polite yet puzzled nod from the woman and she continues on.

7:27pm
Review shots. What’s working? What’s not? Hope the sailboat with the green light on its mast resting in front of the tanker will move quickly.  Wait.

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7:35pm
Click…wait. Patience.

7:37pm
A homeless man pushing a cart stops to ask for a light. Explain I don’t smoke. He continues on.

7:43pm
Review shots. Consider a longer shutter speed. Click…wait.

7:44pm
Cruise ship heading into harbor messes up shot. Wait to redo.

7:48pm
Starting to rain. Last shot, make it count.

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8:01pm
Pack up quickly. Run from the downpour. Take cover in the car.

8:02pm
Drive home, eager to look at files more closely in the studio. Make plans for next shoot.

Honolulu Museum of Art Blog