March 1, 2013

Behind the lens – March 2013

green ferns - free March wallpaper
1/2 sec, f 32, 95mm, ISO 100

The Place
Tasmania is an island on its own. While part of Australia, it reminds in many ways of it’s more remote cousin, New Zealand. This photo was taken in 2011 in a ghostly place where the worst convicts used to be sent as punishment. Nature is slowly taking its rightful place again, discarding the old ruins to memory.

The Story
This is about the importance of play. I love photography, but what sometimes frustrates me about making ‘stills’, is that they are so…still. For example, when you capture a person dancing at 1/1000th of a second, you just freeze that particular moment in time of them stretching or jumping in a really weird position. If you slow down, you can get them before, during and after the jump. Add in a little flash at the right time and what you get is not a photo of a freak expression, but a dance. Not just one moment in time, but time itself. Movement. Shape. A trail. A pattern.

I love using this creative technique of slow shutter when I’m out and about. On this particular day the wind was howling and a bush of ferns caught my eye. There’s something about their shape, the vivid greens, how they curl and furl that attracts me every time. Here they were being whirled around by that howling wind. And I wanted to capture that sweeping motion somehow. While the movement may perhaps look really random, it’s quite the opposite. I find often with this technique, the way you handle the camera can make or break the picture. In this case I wanted the photo to show the color, shape and texture of the ferns, with a hint of the sweeping pattern. Too straight and I lost the movement. Too random and I lost the ferns. Too long and it was just one big blur. Too short and it was too static. It often takes a lot of trying to get a combination of movement and shutter speed that feels ‘right’ to me. In this case I let my eyes and hands follow the movement of one leaf in particular.
Here are some other examples of images that hopefully express their subjects in a more dynamic way. I love this way of shooting as it often forces me to slow down and think about what ‘strokes’ to use, almost like in drawing or painting.
If you’ve tried this technique as well, I’d love to see your results!

Hardwood tree. 0.6 sec, f/32, 70mm, ISO 100 
At sea.
At sea. 1/3 sec, f/29 , 48mm , ISO 100
Sunset. 1/6th sec, f/36, 170mm, ISO 100

Full Calendar 2013
This image is part of the 2013 calendar. Follow this link to download the full size version to use as wallpaper on your tablet or desktop.

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