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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mixing moving and static subjects

Here's another example of photography at a fair to complement yesterday's post. As you can see we've got two different groups of people. In the foreground is the little girl and her father waiting for the dodgem cars.

In the background is the two girls in dodgem car #5. One group is moving, one isn't and slow shutter speeds are a great way of contrasting these two elements within the one frame.

The trick is to have just the right shutter speed - too fast and the dodgem car will be frozen still and you won't be able to tell if it's moving. Too slow and the static people in the foreground might move, or your hand might shake if you're hand-holding the camera (which I am here). Or the dodgem will be too blurred to know what it is. It really is a fine photographic balancing act.

For this image I used a shutter speed of about 1/8th second. Because I'm shooting with a shorter focal length wide angle lens I'm more easily able to hold the camera at slower shutter speeds so if you haven't got a tripod with you reach for your shortest lens. Telephoto lenses are a bugger to hold at longer shutter speeds even with image stabilisation.

Using the wide angle lens means you have to get up nice and close to the people in the foreground. I don't think they knew I was there which is a bit out of the norm for my style of people photography but when I saw this shot I couldn't resist the great interaction between the father and daughter.

So my aim for this shot was to make the dodgem cars looks quite fast so I wanted to blur them just that little bit. Then I imagined the little girl being a little pensive about such a fast ride and that's why she was holding on tightly to her father's hand. Whether this was the case or not I have no idea, this is what was going through my head as I was constructing the picture.

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