6 Dec. 2010

Assignment 8 - Chilling out

This week has got me down. All the Blogging world is getting pumped about winter, and we don't have one here in Dubai. I suppose I would also be in a temperate zone in my other home down under, but at least winter comes there (if not at the right time). But Dubai is firmly 27 degrees (81 Fahrenheit for all old schoolies), and so  given the theme "chill" (photofriday),  I have decided to take the advice of my brother when he was 13. I'm gonna chill, but like the pill.

Now I don't know if it's because last night I tuned to Discovery Science just in time to catch the beginning of Steven Hawking's Universe - Time Travel, but I have decided to connect the theme of chill with slow, and talk about shutter-speed. (By the way - he says it can't be done. The best he can get is slowing down the aging process, and I can get that done at a clinic down the road)

My first lesson in manual photography touched on this in a basic way, but as I have grown intimate with my camera, I have realised there is quite a bit more to it than simply; slow = more light, and fast = less light. It is much more than that. One has the ability to...(insert twilight zone music)...play with time.

Firstly, we can freeze time. I know, every old snap does this, but once you start playing with shutterspeeds at 1/400th of a second, you get a glimpse into a secret world we don't usually see. Try it with anything changeable and fast-moving, but i think water is the best. And so here I can prove that water freezes at 27 degrees (81F). And try melting THAT, baby!

Secondly, we can set our camera to "chill". If yours doesn't have a chill button (ok - you got me, mine doesn't either), then try lowering the shutterspeed to around an eighth of a second or lower (most cameras will start flashing warning lights here, because even a steady hand cannot keep a camera perfectly still for more than about a second). Find a stable position (preferably a tripod), and think about setting the timer, because even the act of pressing the shutter can blur the entire image. This particular night landscape was taken on a 15 second shutter-speed. Again, I love water at low shutter speed. It takes on this smooth, icy glassiness. But the other great subject is light. If the light is moving, then you get the trails. If it is still, you get stars... Cool.

Not my work - Henry Lee's
There is also a Setting on the speed-dial called "bulb". Google "bulb photography" and you will see some great images (At the very top of this post is my profound message). Basically, the shutter stays open for as long as you hold down the button. This means you can take a single point of light and draw it across the entire exposure... Very cool.

Back on the subject of stars; If you have a camera you can set to an incredibly slow shutter-speed, e.g. longer than 30 minutes, then real stars will make a light-trail in the night sky. I believe this can also be done on the Bulb setting, but of course with a remote shutter button... Super cool.

This photo is NOT taken by me, but by Henry Lee - I am so seriously behind these guys - check out this website: hightech-edge.com for heaps of good images taken at low shutter-speeds.

Do you have a picture along the same theme to share? Add it below

You might also want to check out my non-photography dribble at dubai-ified.blogspot.com