About Me

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tripod during the day

The previous post had us using a tripod at night. I guess most people would think of that, but a tripod can also be pretty indispensable during the day.

It's all about giving yourself the ability to use shutter speeds slower than you could ever handhold. The reason you want those slow shutter speeds is to get movement blur in your subject.

When you have a moving subject you have a couple of choices. You can either completely freeze the movement with a fast shutter speed (think soccer player heading a ball), or you can blur the movement with a slow shutter speed.

I often like to put blur in my moving subjects, just as a way of actually showing that they're moving. Often if you completely freeze the motion you can't be sure whether the object is moving or not.

The image above was shot for part of a book project I was working on for the New Zealand book publishers Weldon Owen. It was a children's book series featuring festivals around the world. I was photographing for the Japan book and the cherry blossom festival. I already had shots of a family having a picnic under the trees (thanks to my sister-in-law's family!) but still wanted some atmospheric shots of the trees themselves.

So I got up early one morning and drove to the Hokkaido Jingu Shrine, Hokkaido's largest, with my ever-faithful companion - my father-in-law. He has been a continual supporter of my photographic career and often accompanies me on shoots when I'm in town. I am eternally grateful for his support.

Anyway when we got there there was quite a breeze up and the petals were all flittering down to the ground. The petals are quite small and I knew that if I used too fast a shutter speed they would just appear as pin pricks in the photo. So I decided to slow the shutter speed down so that not only would they appear blurred to give a sense of their motion, but also as streaks they would appear slightly larger in the picture and be more recognisable.

So I reached for my 70-200mm zoom. I wanted the telephoto to compress the perspective and make the long row of trees look more voluminous. The shutter speed was way too slow to handhold so I put the camera on the tripod. Then I sat and waited until the three people in the frame were clearly separated from the background and took a series of images.

You know that saying that if you see something you like you should photograph it straight away. Well in this case that advice was right on the money. I went off to photograph some other trees and came back a couple of hours later to find these trees nearly bare where all the petals had blown away. Sometimes you can be lucky!

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