Friday, 29 August 2014

I Like To Move It Move It

Still photography is essentially about stopping a moment in time. We open the shutter, impressing one fraction of a second of light onto a light-sensitive chemical emulsion on film, or activated digital sensor, and capture a moment in time that would have otherwise flicked past as part of the non-stop home movie that is our life.

Go Padres! Can you spot the ball in these shots? Images by Danny. 1/500 sec, Petco Park in San Diego, July 2012
I still can't believe I caught this shot. October 2013, our place. 1/200 sec
On the train to San Luis Obispo in California, August 2012. 1/100 sec
Life would be pretty boring if we never moved, and so would our photos. 

At the Night Noodle Markets, Southbank in Brisbane, July 2014
When photography was first invented the subjects had to be carefully posed and sit or stand without moving for long periods of time while the photographer made their exposures. This is just one reason why early portraits are so formal. The equipment was large, cumbersome and it took time to take each shot and get enough light onto the plate or negative to make an image. So the subjects had to be still to keep the photo sharp. 

My paternal grandmother, Violet. Image date and credit are
unknown but she only lived from 1900 to 1946 so this must
have been taken close to a hundred years ago
Now we have equipment that is responsive and portable enough to go almost anywhere and catch almost any scene imaginable at tiny fractions of a second, even in near darkness. We can bring our light sources with us and attach them to the camera or even fire them remotely to light up our scene. 

This of course means we can make the wings of a hummingbird stop moving or the water droplets of a fountain seem frozen. 

In my brother's backyard in Poway, California, August 2012
Roma Street Gardens in Brisbane, July 2014
Of course we can always show that a subject is moving by taking a series of images. Especially good for escaping babies.

Making a break for it, March 2013
Or flying babies.

Prepare for take-off, August 2013. 1/1600 sec totally freezing all movement
Or dancing couples at weddings. This is one of my favourite ever couples Darren and Jessica. Bryan Adams' 'Summer of 69' came on during their reception and Darren grabbed his bride and lit up the dance floor. I think of them every time I hear the song.

All motion here is frozen by a burst of flash with little or no ambient light, May 2010
Sometimes I like to show that my subject is moving by bringing a little motion blur back into the photograph. This can be done in a variety of ways. Slowing the shutter speed and allowing the subject, or part thereof to move relative to the background is one. 

All aboard! Oceanside Station in San Diego, December 2010. 1/250 sec
allowed for a small amount of motion in the speeding train
At the State Library in Brisbane, October 2010.
1/60 sec
Fraser Island, May 2007. 1/4 sec for water to blur
Hail at our place, November 2013. 1/50 sec streaking the hail
Sunrise at Kalapana in Hawaii, October 2013. 1/50 sec is enough here to
soften the incoming tide.
This couple is spinning on the axis of their joined hands which have stayed sharp in this photo because they are turning at a lesser rate than the couple's bodies.

1/30 sec blurring my spinning couple but enough to still the background
We can also 'drag' the shutter and pop the flash, meaning an open slow shutter to produce a blur followed by a burst of light to freeze a moment giving a nice trail behind a sharp subject (or in reverse with the trail ahead of the frozen subject). I love to do this for dancing photos at weddings. 

1/13 sec with a tiny pop of late flash giving a sense of motion with sharp details.
Greek dancing at an engagement party, February 2013
I've blogged this before but it remains one of my best examples of this
artform. September 2006, 2 seconds with flash pop first.
It was near darkness on a stormy Spring afternoon when I caught this happy accident.

2 seconds with flash pop first, Brisbane Botanical Gardens, October 2006
Here I was just playing to see what I could come up with. Of course I got to eat the marshmallows afterward.

Half a second with a pop of flash
Shot on film November 2004, exposure details unknown. Seaport
Village in San Diego.
Sometimes introducing motion into images can be a result of using low levels of light to advantage.

The same effect without the pop of flash, my couple remained still while
their guests continued dancing. 1 second, April 2005
Panning, or moving along with a subject to blur the background but keep the subject pin sharp, is effective for fast moving subjects like cars. 

Rita Redcar on the track at Lakeside February 2014. 1/125 sec
Or go-carts.

Bandaids in 3...2... March 2007, 1/180 sec
Or dancing.

Greek dancing at a wedding reception, February 2014
Panning can also help to blur out unwanted background details and bring the focus back to your subject. It is a bit of an art to get right but when you do the results are rewarding.

Danny and Simon styling in Fabia Fairlocks at Lakeside Raceway, April 2013
Sometimes simply experimenting with motion and moving subjects can bring fun and unexpected results. These next 2 shots were taken by resting my camera on the dashboard of my brother's Jeep and opening the shutter for a few seconds while on the freeway somewhere in San Diego County.

6 seconds
6 seconds
This shot was taken looking down at the Riverside Expressway in Brisbane from the Victoria Bridge.

1.3 sec, resting the camera on the balcony railing, July 2014
This was shot from the hip, actually. I was walking through the streets in Las Vegas with my camera on a strap sitting at hip level, hitting the shutter surreptitiously and almost randomly just to see what I would get. Sometimes you get lucky.

I've blogged this before. Hectic foot traffic in
Las Vegas, 2005. 1/30 sec

I hope today's blog entry has moved you! Sorry for the bad pun bloggers. On a slightly different note, I'll only be blogging once a week for a while so I can keep up my high standard of blogging but get on with a couple of other projects in my life I need to make time for. See you then!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Taking It To The Streets

Today I'm taking it to the streets with a small selection of street photography from my travels both within Australia and overseas. 

On the shopping strip in Waikiki Beach, October 2013
In a cafe in Kuranda on the Cairns Tablelands, April 2009
A handful at the Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco, September 2007
Chinatown San Francisco, September 2007
Making contact with strangers is not something that comes easily to me. I’m rarely one to make the first move unless I really need to, like asking someone desperately interesting if I can take their photo, or finding the nearest rest rooms. 

Taken on the Kuranda Railway, April 2009
Night riders on the cable car in San Francisco, August 2012
I walked by like everyone else, Waikiki Beach, November 2004
I’m more likely to strap on a long lens and shoot from afar. This makes travel really interesting, and is probably one of the reasons I’ve only been so far to two non-English speaking countries. It’s hard enough to communicate in a different culture that actually speaks your language; I can’t imagine complicating that by introducing a language barrier as well. 

A love match in Brisbane, 2006
Spotted on a cable car passenger in San Francisco, September 2007
Flat out on the steps of Grace Cathedral, Nob Hill District in San Francisco, August 2012
The Melbourne St bus station in Brisbane, October 2010
I love Americans and America, but the accent is a barrier. MY accent that is. I find myself spelling my name out phonetically on the phone (foxtrot echo romeo romeo echo tango tango!!!) and choosing things off menus simply because I think I can say them and be understood (anything without an ‘r’ is a good start). After you've been in the States about 3 weeks you start to hear your accent. This is enough to make you just stop talking altogether.

Supermoon worshipper, Pottsville Beach, May 2012
Pier 39 in San Francisco, September 2007
About to get towed on Pier 39, San Francisco, August 2012
Life imitates art, San Francisco, September 2007
But there are advantages to being a stranger in a strange land. People love to help you out whether it be finding a landmark or finding yourself, and they always want to know your story. My story isn’t any more special than theirs so I’m always happy to trade and give us both something to take home.  

A random connection in Chinatown San Francisco, September 2007
Oddities on the Powell and Mason line, San Francisco, August 2012
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, August 2012
Near Pier 39 in San Francisco, August 2012
I rarely feel homesick  when I travel. Occasionally a smell or sound will bring a lump to my throat but usually it passes quickly. Once I did burst into tears hearing lorikeets trilling in an aviary at San Diego Wildlife Park; I think that had more to do with not wanting to leave there than actually missing home. 

Catching some zeds at the Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco, September 2007
Lost in San Francisco, September 2007
Lost in love in Sydney, Australia, November 2008
I grabbed this final shot in San Francisco on my solo visit in 2007. The sign stopped me in my tracks and, oblivious to the glances of passers-by, I let tears roll down my face for a few seconds. At that moment I felt every one of the twelve thousand or more kilometres between myself and Australia. I cried again at the airport a few days later, this time not wanting to leave this fabulous city and already planning ahead to when I would return.

There's no place like home, spotted in San Francisco September 2007