One of the things I worry about sometimes with my photography is what to do with the composition of an image. I'll be perfectly honest, I don't follow any real set of rules or guidelines and just do what feels good. It works mostly, but sometimes I see in hindsight things that could have been done differently or better.
This image was a a case in point. I'd cropped and corrected it in a bit of a rush and had a reasonably good idea of what I wanted and how to achieve that result. Nevertheless, after a couple of days and a couple of tweaks, I readjusted the image to create a completely different result. All I really did was crop the image slightly tighter (just a few %, see the fingers at the top) and move the image slightly more out of centre and to the right.
Click on the image for an enlargement.
I'm happy with the image the way it turned out. It's one of those rare shots where the sense of emotion, of quietness, of total elegance are all present at the same time. You can't see this on the photos, the young lady was in a sports hall with thousands of people around her yet this moment of serenity caught me.
One of the acts at the Univé Gym Gala recently gave me the opportunity to try some new approaches to my photography. I've been fooling around with long exposure time for some time now, but now I was confronted with a situation in a different setting in which I could use these techniques too.
I'd been watching the guys (and girl) of the ReCircle Collective performing during the first two shows of the Gala, with somewhat inclusive results in my photography. What ended up were somewhat disappointing shots, with the LED lights in the wheels being mere pinpoints or small smears, but not anything to be really excited about.
(N.B. click on the images for an enlargement.)
This second one was a little more to my liking, after the performers introduced some colours into the show.
After the second show, I decided to take my tripod along. I'd been picking up the visual hint, that the lights left a residual images on my retina during the performance, so that in my own eyes there was a kind of latent image left behind, of streaks of light caused by the illumination of the wheels.
I did some quick calculating and a bit of guessing too. I figured that I would be best off with a large depth of field, because the performers would be moving all over the place, so I set the aperture to f/22 which had the added advantage that the light sources wouldn't be overexposed. In hindsight, it was just a wild guess to pick the smallest possible aperture, but it worked well.
Secondly, I set the focus to manual, so that I wouldn't have any fussing with autofocus in a dark surroundings. I left the focus untouched during this act in both the third and fourth shows. The focal length of my zoom lens was set to 70mm. Then I started fooling around with shutter speeds, which was a bit of a hit and miss adventure since sometimes the wheels would be spinning fast and sometimes they would be stationary. In the end I found that a speed between 0,4 and 0,6 seconds worked best mostly although some slow moving elements were taken at 1 second exposure.
Lastly, I just need to note two things. In this situation I forgot to lower my ISO from the 6400 I was shooting the rest of the evening on. Not a real problem but mostly it's more useful to use a lower ISO because of sensor noise. It wasn't really apparent in these frames so I was lucky. Also, I forgot to use the exposure delay function, and I saw afterwards that some of the lighting was a little smeared due to the vibration of my camera on the tripod.
Just a little moment of something to feel proud about this time. I like these little adventures, they deliver all kinds of interesting stuff.
Across the bay, close to my house. A long, 30 second exposure.
I didn't really know before about the starforming, I'd seen this before in other people's photos but has suspected that they had used a filter. I did a little bit of sleuthing and discovered that just by using a small aperture (f/16 in this case, which is the maximum for the lens I was using) the lights would transform into multipointed stars. I still need to look a little further into this, I tried an experiment later with a Christmas tree near my home but couldn't get the same results, so I'm going to have to try something new next time.
Sometimes things are so different to how they appear. I've been exploring the realities of time lapse photography, with interesting and curious results.
The longer the exposure, the less the people become apparent. This image was a three second exposure, when I've used a much smaller aperture and taken an image of 10 seconds or longer the people just seem to disappear. How odd...
I've had a lot on my mind during the last few months. In some ways parts of my life have started to grow and expand in ways I'd never expected, whilst others seem to have withered away and become dormant. There's a feeling of growth, loss and movement which has drained me of much energy and emotion, in some ways I'm still not sure how to move on from here.
The one thing that is important is keeping focus, looking to the future and knowing that whatever happens, life will be all good in some way. I just need to find out how.
It seems to have been some time since I've written anything here. Time slipped so quickly through my fingers, I hadn't really noticed, although there was always that little voice in a quiet corner of my mind which tried to remind me occasionally. Strange that, how time and events seem to put a totally different perspective on what you're doing and how you're doing your stuff.
Yesterday evening there was a firework show close to here, part of the yearly fair activities. I took my chances to see if I could get some interesting and useful pictures of the whole event. All in all I"m satisfied with the results, please judge for yourself if you like the images or not. (Click on the images for an enlargement in Flickr, where you can also reclick to see the enhanced photos on a black background.
I'd been doing a bit of reading recently, on time lapse photography and related subjects. In the future I'd like to do more of this kind of shooting, stars, movement and action brought back into aesthetically appealing ways. This was my chance. I'd bought a good quality tripod recently which might help me achieve this goal and was hoping to move my photography up to a new level.
And so it goes... from the information I'd received, I understood that I should be using a somewhat smaller aperture than I'd been used to, because fireworks seem to be a lot brighter than one would have expected. The indicated aperture would be f/11, I stuck to that all evening, the results were good and in all honesty I wasn't disappointed. With a slight caveat, but I'll discuss that later.
Next, I set all my camera settings to manual. Manual focus, fixed shutter speed and aperture, no noise reduction, ISO fixed to 200 and the white balance set to around 3000K. (Still a bit of mystery to me though, why the camera white balance is slightly different to what Adobe Lightroom shows, need to look into that...)
I focussed my lens on the pontoon from which the fireworks would be released, and left this untouched in the course of the evening. I set the focal length wide open at 24mm, to make sure that I didn't miss too much action by having to fool around with the right framing in the course of the show.
One thing I thought about beforehand, was minimising vibration whilst shooting the fireworks. Even though I have a very stable tripod, I suspected that the mirror slap of my camera would be enough to vibrate the image enough to produce some unsightly squiggles. In this case I used the exposure delay feature on my camera, which meant that the shutter would open only one second after the mirror had been released. It required a bit of guesswork and a little improvisation, but all things told I was satisfied with the results. One other small point of attention was turning off the vibration reduction setting on my lens, since this also reacts to the movements of the lens and camera.
At one point in the evening I decided to extend my exposure time from 2 to 3 seconds. I was hoping to get some longer and some more interesting trails, the net result though was that many parts of my images were seriously overexposed and had merged together. Perhaps a useful workaround in the future would be that if I tried 3 second exposures that I reduce my aperture to f/16 or perhaps even f/22. One big drawback yesterday evening was that there was a fairly strong air current above ground level, which moved both the smoke and the fireworks away at a fairly rapid pace. Will need to keep an eye on that next time.
In the end, most images needed a little bit of post processing. The main issue was cropping, since I'd shot the images as wide as possible and only needed a subset of the total field of view. A couple of images needed a slight exposure reduction of a half to three quarters of a stop, several needed just as much compensation in the opposite direction. More based on intuition than anything else, but it works fine for me.
OK, that's all for now. More photos from the last month to follow soon, especially some really good ones of the Dutch Rhönrad Summercamp 2012 where I was present to shoot much of the activity during the festivities.
I spent a few hours at a seaside town yesterday. I was captivated by the clouds and the beautifully clear air, and took the time to capture some images and moments. A little bit of experimentation afterwards for the "finishing touch". (Click on the images for an enlargement)
So often I wonder who people really are,
those who live behind the eyes
through which I catch but a fleeting glimpse
of a reality more deep and intense
than I'd ever expected, or had only dreamt of
in restless and half wakeful moments.
One of the down sides of depression, is that it seems almost impossible at moments to get moving, mentally, physically, emotionally, on things that are important and sometimes urgent. I continue to amaze myself though about the selectivity though, some things don't take much effort at all and it's almost as if I sail through the motions of daily life with hardly a care in the world, whilst at the same time it takes an almost herculean exertion to get particular, specific things done.
Sometimes I think it's got something to do with fear, at others I apply the tag of laziness to myself although I know perfectly well that I would choose to do otherwise under other circumstances. If only I could get myself moving occasionally...
So yet again I kick-start my blog, I hope for a little longer than a few days although I can't make any promises, even to myself. I've had days that even getting out of my bed was a chore and a triumph, and others again in which it seemed as if the world were too small for my energy and ambition.
And so the story goes, with all the ups and downs and the vicissitudes of a barely comprehensible life, in which I just bob away on the waves of circumstance without really daring to make any plans for the longer term.