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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Slow shutter speed for still-lifes

Often a good way to show the motion of something is to have some things spinning with movement and some things stationary.

We often see effectively blurred shots with living objects such as people but it can also be used to make a still-life shot interesting.

These prayer wheels line the outside of the Dalai Lama's temple in McLeod Ganj, northern India. Every day pilgrims walk around the temple, spinning the wheels as they go. On the wheels is written a Tibetan prayer 'Om Mani Padme Hum' which it is believed is sent to heaven by spinning the wheels.

When I came across these wheels I was a little stumped as to how to photograph them. If I waited until they were all stopped then you couldn't tell that they actually spin around. If I photographed them all spinning you wouldn't be able to tell what they were.

So I decided to spin two out of three, thus showing that they are spinning wheels, but also showing the detail written on the middle wheel. So I put the camera on a tripod, walked forward and span the left wheel and then the right wheel then I walked back and took the shot.

I probably could have done this hand-held just by spinning the wheels really fast but it was a lot easier to put the camera on the tripod, line everything up exactly how I wanted and just walk forward and then back to take the shot. Sometimes a tripod just makes things easier. It was quite dark in the shade and I didn't want to take any chances with hand shake.

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