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.
With our thoughts, we shape the world. ~ Buddhist quote ~
How much are you limiting yourself with negative thoughts, stopping yourself from accomplishing what you would like to do by convincing yourself beforehand that what you wish to achieve will be difficult, that you can't do it or that you worry about what other people might think?
Negative thoughts bring negative results, a positive state of mind opens the way to new challenges and successes. Try it, you'll like it. ;-)
I was wandering down one of the main streets in Amsterdam, looking for interesting strangers to photograph. This gentleman was seated at the base of a lantarn mast, just minding his own business, puffing away like an old steam train and watching the people go by, on their ways to and from the palace square.
He had a rather quizzicle attitude, at moments I had the suspicion he was making fun of both myself and the world in general. From what he told me he was just biding his time there, watching the people going their own ways and waiting until his wife and child (presumably female) were done with shopping.
He didn't (and wasn't willing to) share much information about himself with me. He had an extraordinary fascination with the typography and use of language on my business card, he kept on making vague jokes which I could only half grasp, in an accent which resembled that of a friend of mine who originates from Italy. I could reasonably assume that he is at least of Mediterranean origin and prefers to view life from the lighter side.
He posed for me in many and various ways, I quite appreciated his willingness and perception to cooperate in different ways, which delivered me many photos which were both curious and thought-provoking. The other photos are in a separate set, for comparison.
B is a long term resident of Amsterdam. From what I could gather he went to school there, worked there until his retirement and nowadays takes time every day to make a round of the city. He lives in Amsterdam North, coming across by ferry every day, just to see what's happening and who's doing what, so I expect he's well and truly part of the city landscape by now. Indeed, I spotted him again later in the afternoon wandering around a different part of the city altogether.
I met him near the western tram station. I'm not sure what attracted me to him, besides the feeling that he was distinctly different to the commuters and tourists who were populating the station square that afternoon.
B is a photographer himself, and was quite active with his art in times long past. During our fairly long chat, he told me of his early days at the Natural Science Laboratory where he worked, where he and his colleagues would spend time during their lunch breaks taking pictures, developing and printing them in a makeshift darkroom under one of the staircases in the building in which he worked. At the time he was shooting with a Hasselblad 6x6 camera, of which he was very proud. In recent years though he has given up most of his photography and now spends his time taking pictures with a Lumix compact camera.
He was rather reluctant to divulge any personal information, after a little prodding he told me that his initials were BB, to which I replied "Oh, like B... B..." (from the totally well-known Dutch children's song) to which he replied, "Eh, yes... that's how they teased me years ago at school...".
OK, slightly awkward moment here...
Once again I've made a series of shots, some with more of Amsterdam Central Station in the background, some more closely cropped. This series was for me also an attempt to find a good balance between cropping and leaving more space around my subject, as well as studying various expressions. The other photos can be found in a different set.
N's red hair attracted me from a distance. I thought it was a rather nice complement, the red hair, the yellow letters in the background, along with the grey panels and the multicoloured shawl. She didn't mind being photographed at all and seemed slightly amused by the idea. N studies Language and Communication Science in Amsterdam.
I've made a lot of photos across the years. Good ones, bad ones, photos of moments I'd prefer to forget and others again which keep memories fresh and alive. Images dutifully recording who we were, what we were doing and with whom. The past becomes frozen, an instance in time captured on an emulsion for evermore.
This is a photo I made in December 1978. We had just done our final exams at school, we were having a party and celebrating the end of our school careers. The world was waiting, our futures were wide open, anything and everything could happen.
And so they did. The two young people here are 16 and 17, very much in love and very happy. Their eyes shine, there's a visible warmth and trust which was growing, and would continue to grow across the years. They married several years later, had careers and children and the inevitable ups and downs, and remained deeply committed to each other.
She died a few days ago. It happens, even to the best of us, and although decades and continents have come between us, there's the feeling of sadness and recognition that goes beyond the simple fact. The photo remains, as a relic and a reminder of a past reality, and although she is no more she lives on in the minds and memories of those who loved and knew her.
I was feeling dead tired by the time I met C, it had been a long and busy day. Judging by the bags she was carrying I could see that she'd been doing some serious shopping in the city and was now on her way to catch a train to wherever it was she needed to go to. She was almost like a ray of light in otherwise drab surrounding, she was well clothed, had a pleasant smile and looked as if she knew exactly what she needed to do and how she was going to do it.
I stopped her for a short chat and the inevitable question about whether she wanted to be photographed or not. I turned out that she was a model herself, that she was quite used to posing in front of camera and that she had a photoshoot planned for the same evening with her partner.
Another part of her work had also to do with her appearance. When I saw her I found her vaguely familiar somehow, in the course of the conversation she told me that she was a Marilyn Monroe tribute artist and had made many appearances as the modern incarnation of the beauty of years past. Looking at her website a little later I can understand the success she had been having, she plays the part perfectly and is extraordinarily charming as well.
I felt priviliged and happy to have met C. I made quite a number of photos of her, the best ones are now in this set as part of my ongoing attempts to master portrait photography.