Tag Archives: night disc golf

Painting the Night with Disc Golf

The #2 son's glowing putt approaches the basket. f/3.5, 1/60th of a second, ISO 250

The #2 son's glowing putt approaches the basket. Flashed: f/3.5, 1/60th of a second, ISO 250

I have a confession to make: I’m a woeful flash photographer. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t like how flashed photos look, plus I don’t like fiddling with my external Nikon SB-600, trying to avoid the washed-out look that too much flash often yields. So usually I evade potential flash-photography situations.

Jessica and Eric

Jessica and Eric. Flashed: f/8, 1/60th, ISO 200

But then last Friday night, Jessica, one-half of one of our favorite disc golf couples, decided to throw a surprise birthday party for her fiancé Eric. And it involved night disc golf. As in very little light. As in have to use a flash. As in not a happy camper photographer.

Now Jessica didn’t ask me to take photos. But Eric just happens to be a mentor to the #2 son. Not only is he a fine disc golf player who we happened to meet at the first tournament that #2 played in a year and a half ago, but he’s a wonderful role model. Our whole family (yes, even the #1 son) likes Eric a lot. So how could I not shoot some pix at his party? And the clincher? I figured it would make for great blog material!

Billy, Kelly, and the Mister smile before teeing off.

Billy, Kelly, and the Mister smile before teeing off. Flashed: f/6.3, 1/60th, ISO 320

I decided the best photographic path would be to try to mix up nonflash and flash photos. I put my Nikon 17-55mm lens on my Nikon D300 at the start to take group photos, as well as to document the sky.

The sky before dark. f/4, 1/320th, ISO 400

The sky before dark. Nonflashed: f/4, 1/320th, ISO 400

As it got darker , I switched to my Nikon 50mm lens. With its maximum aperture of f/1.4, it would allow in the most light when I wasn’t using flash.

Discs with glow sticks taped on

Discs with glow sticks taped on. Flashed: f/4, 1/60th, ISO 320

Every disc golf basket had a small light attached to it so the players could see it. Most of the players used discs that had small glow sticks taped on them.

#2 glows Kelly's disc. f/1.4, 1/50th, ISO 800 (The light in the background is from a softball field.)

#2 glows Kelly's disc. Nonflashed: f/1.4, 1/50th, ISO 800 (The light in the background is from a softball field.)

Some of the discs glowed in the dark, but they had to be recharged with a light source. The #2 son had brought a flashlight for that very purpose.

#2 son with his red glow disc

#2 son with his red glow disc. Nonflashed: f/1.4, 1/5th, ISO 250

#2 just had to be a bit different . . . some of his discs actually lit up!

#2 and Sam keep score by the glow of #2's green putter. f/1.4, 1/20th, ISO 640

#2 and Sam keep score by the glow of #2's green putter. Nonflashed: f/1.4, 1/20th, ISO 640

It’s impossible to handhold a heavy camera like the D300 for 1/20th of a second without some blurring, as you can see.

The flashed #2 and Sam. f/3.5, 1/60th, ISO 640

The flashed #2 and Sam. Flashed: f/3.5, 1/60th, ISO 640

The flash did a better job of making everything look crisp, but I think it looks kinda fake. And definitely not as fun.

The flash captures Patrick's upshot. f/4, 1/60th, ISO 500

The flash captures Patrick's upshot. Flashed: f/4, 1/60th, ISO 500

I experimented with using the flash to stop the action and sometimes was successful. I increased the ISO to throw the flash further.

Sidebar: Disc golf players do not like when the flash goes off near their face. I did not make that mistake twice!

#2's putt towards a darkened basket. f/3.5, 1/60th, iSO 250

#2's putt towards a darkened basket. Flashed: f/3.5, 1/60th, ISO 250

Here I didn’t up the ISO enough to allow the flash to illuminate the basket. I did lighten the disc a bit in Photoshop to make it easier to see.

Field of dreams ghost players. f/1.6, 1.6 seconds, ISO 800

Field of dreams ghost players. Nonflashed: f/1.6, 1.6 seconds, ISO 800

After awhile I became intrigued with how the photos looked with handheld, longer shutter speeds. Above, are those ghosts in the park playing disc golf? I really like how the glowing discs paint the night.

Disc golf artistry! f/4, 13 seconds, ISO 640

Disc golf artistry! Nonflashed: f/4, 13 seconds, ISO 640

At the end of the evening, which was around 10:30 p.m., I opened the shutter for long periods of time. Above was the result after 13 seconds, which included moving the camera around. Who knew I could be such an artist?!?

Can you tell this is the #2 son? f/5.6, 30 seconds, ISO 400

Can you tell this is the #2 son? Nonflashed: f/5.6, 30 seconds, ISO 400

You can barely make out the ghostlike #2 son in the middle of this photo. Wearing a blue glow necklace, he was twirling two blue glow necklaces in his hands as I moved the camera. Now this is just wild—it’s disc golf at its prettiest! I ended up having a great time taking photos.

It definitely was fun to paint the night with nonflashed disc golf!!