Friday, October 8, 2010

What Happens When the Photographer is 'On the Move'

OK, so I can't sit still...I am one of those photographers who shoots all day long regardless of the light, experimenting with all kinds of photo techniques.  With camera in hand and whenever I reach a 'dry spell,' I always ask myself "What if I...(insert photo idea here)?"
This week, the featured images illustrate my question: What if I ...photograph while I am on the move?

Ever since I was a kid I have loved driving through the country and watching the rhythmic patterns of crop rows as the car sped past agricultural fields. Watching the scene below, I asked myself:  "What if I... photograph them from the back seat while the car is in motion?" 
This image was made in the wine country in Chile. A slow shutter speed captured the blurred rows of grape vines as I moved past the vineyard, and a smaller f-stop captured the static scenery in the background, just as your eye sees it in 'real time.' (Canon5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm IS, 1/4 sec. @ f 8.0, ISO200)
Another time, I was a passenger in the front seat.  We were driving in the rain through The Grotto in Zion National Park in autumn.  Everyone else had their cameras in their bags except for me.  ('Bad light,' I was told) But I asked myself: "What if I...shot through the rain streaked windshield as we drive through the tunnel of trees?"  The results can be seen here.  I like how the image resembles an impressionistic painting.(Canon 1D Mark II, Canon 28-105mm IS lens, 1/6 sec. @ f 5.6, ISO 800)

Back in Indiana, I had the oppportunity to ride along side the harness racers in the motorized starting gate.  So, this time, both my subject and I were in motion!  Hmmmm..."What if I...stop down to f 22 (so the grandstand in the back ground is sharp) and let the horse and rider blur to show motion?"  I am really pleased with the resulting image.  (Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm IS lens, 1/25 sec. @ f 22, ISO 100)

This image was made from the back of a Harley while traveling across country.  I made it my mission to document the sights from the back seat. (I mean...What else can you do riding for days for hours at a stretch?) Timing and pre-visualization are key to this type of photography since there is only 1 chance to get the shot.  After days of observing oncoming traffic as it passed us, I asked, "What if I...try to capture the ominous blur of an oncoming semi-truck?"  The challenge here is that subject and photographer were traveling in OPPOSITE directions, increasing the concept of speed.  After many unsuccessful attempts to capture what I had pre-visualized, I finally achieved my goal with this shot.  I find it interesting how the front of the truck is blurred, yet the back end is static and sharp- most likely a physics concept, but to me, it's visual magic!  (Canon 10D, 28-105mm lens, 1/50 sec. @ f 22, ISO100)
So, the next time you find yourself in a shooting 'dry spell,' ask yourself "What if I..." and then try it.  You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.
(To see more images of my self assignment of photographing sights from the back of a motorcyle, check out my gallery: "Harley Trip- Las Vegas to Indianapolis" )

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