Tag Archives: slow shutter

My Dragon Boats Featured on Eugephemisms

Eugephemisms is a blog about fitness,  life and less visited places. It has a special focus on dragon boat racing,  A recent post featured 10 of my photo impressionistic dragon boat images and I think it is worth a look.

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Here is an extract:

Why do you shoot impressionistic images of dragon boats?
Stephen: Because photographs just capture a split second they often miss the moment we experienced. I think that is particularly true with dragon boat racing. Dragon boat racers exude grace/power/energy and I think I capture that better using photo impressionistic techniques.

How do you create your images?
Stephen: I use 3 techniques which effectively compress a moment in time into a single image. I started using in camera multiple exposures which is an old school technique. Recently I have been merging high speed bursts of 20 or more images. These techniques really emphasize movement and power. As well I love the graceful results you see in long exposures; often in the range of 0.6 to 1.5 seconds.

You can find the full post  at http://wp.me/p3HpUb-y8

I have a gallery of impressionistic dragon boat images at http://www.dagostino.ca/galleries/dragon-boat-gallery/

Slow Shutter as a Photo Impressionistic Technique

Via Flickr:
Toronto International Dragon Boat Race – dragged shutter technique ( 1/3 seconds). www.dagostino.ca

Using a slow shutter is a fabulous way to capture movement and energy to create a photo impressionistic effect. Here are some ideas that I have found through experimentation:

Light is always going to be your concern when photographing subjects in motion. The photo impressionistic effect comes from the slow shutter speed. A good neutral density filter is a must. I really like variable neutral density filters because of their flexibility and have had some success with the Cameron Fader ND Filter.

Its all about experimentation. I have had some good results with dragon boats in the 1/3 to 1/2 sec range (even down to 0.7 sec on occasion) with my aperture close to f22. Try some test shots to get the balance right.

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Panning is the critical skill here. I look for my point of visual interest (think picture in the picture) and try to keep it at a specific reference point in the view finder. You want that element to freeze in the image while all the other elements move creating a blur. It’s really hard to do even with a tripod or mono pod. The effect I was trying to achieve with the dragon boats was a sense of the circular motion of the paddles and the streaking background.

The shot below (0.7 secs at f18) was taken with a Kenyon Labs gyro. They are a really heavy addition to an already heavy kit but the results are great. As a result, the person who invented the wheel also deserves a camera credit here 🙂

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Post production is a matter of taste. I find the images need a bit of structure so I use photoshop to add a bit of contrast using NIK contrast and tonal contrast filters and Vincent Versace’s mid tone contouring action. Sometimes the images need just a bit of extra saturation as well.

Photo Impressionism at the Toronto International Dragon Boat Festival

The 24th Tim Hortons® Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival is on this weekend at Centre Island. A great venue for photography with lots of colour, and the ability to be proximate to the action.

The event is a real exercise in hurry up and wait. Races last just over 2 minutes but in reality you only have about 30 seconds of good shooting depending on your location. Then there is a pause while the next race sets up. Personally I couldn’t do it without my iPod and a selection of good pod casts.

I attended yesterday with the intention of working on my impressionist photography portfolio including dragged shutter and multiple exposure technique. I also thought I would try a little infra red black and white. All in all I was happy with my images. Here’s what I learned.

Shooting Location

The action takes place on the Long Pond at Centre Island. Races run from west to east.

You are much closer to the action if you perch on the south shore but be aware that at that location you are shooting into the sun.

Lenses

I brought a 70-200 and a 500 mm lens and a FX camera. My infrared camera is a DX. The 500 was marginally okay for shots looking directly down the course. The 70-200 was great for passing shots. If I had a 300 mm I would likely have used it.

Other Equipment

Wheels! It’s a long walk from the ferry so a wheeled camera bag is a great idea.

Tripod vs mono pod. I would bring both. The boats move quite quickly and there is a lot of action to choose from so I regretted not bringing a mono pod. The tripod of course is must at 500 mm as is a remote trigger.

Neutral density filters. You can’t slow down your shutter without them. I have been using a variable ND filter which I really like. The draw back being you can’t use a lens hood.

Food and water. There are lots of concession stands but the races run every 7 minutes on average so buying food will cost you 2-3 photo opportunities. I used a cooler bag and half frozen water bottles to keep it cold at a minimum weight.

Technique

To further my impressionist photography project I tried various shutter speeds and shutter intervals. It’s hard to tell at this point what worked and what didn’t but I will post my results as I see them. But on a preliminary basis it seemed to me that multiple exposures worked best at slower speeds eg 60th and dragged shuttled seemed best at about 1/2 a second.