Thursday, June 11, 2020
Fond Thoughts of the Open Road
Ahhhh........ The open road. How I look forward to getting back out there with you on a photo workshop! For now we still are better off not putting ourselves, or others, at risk so I am playing it safe by staying close to home and not running any workshops or photo tours at this time. But rest assured that big plans are in the works for 2021.
In the meantime I am offering webinars and online training in an effort to keep you focused on photography, and building more of your skills and confidence.
This image was taken last year in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was on a narrow, tree-lined road off the beaten path. This is a single exposure made with a slow shutter speed to give a feeling of movement and softness. The end result is a somewhat impressionistic look of the scene.
Not all nature images need to convey a realistic version of the scene. Sometimes it is good to create images that impart a feeling rather than just a record shot of where it was taken.
This is a simple technique made from a moving vehicle. I call it a "drive-thru." Here is how it was done:
1. First find a tree-lined, narrow gravel or dirt road, or an old paved road with no painted lines. You want it to be a road with no traffic so that you are not interfering with any traffic flow. This is very important since the car will be moving forward at only about 5 miles per hour. This works best when the trees are large enough to keep much of the sky from showing.
2. Since for now it is still important to maintain social distancing and not ride with someone who might be asymptomatic, it is best to have someone who is living with you in your home drive the vehicle. You are in the passenger seat. Please do NOT do this while you are driving since it will put you at risk. When we return to more normal times, this works well when the driver is another photographer so that each of you can trade off periodically, giving each of you a chance to get some shots.
3. When you are shooting, keep your seat belt on, and lean as far forward in your seat as possible. That will put your lens fairly close to the windshield to avoid possible reflections on the windshield from the car's dashboard or your clothing.
4. Wear medium-toned clothing to also avoid adding unwanted reflections in the windshield. Avoid wearing white, red, or other strong or bright colors.
5. Lens - use a lens with approximately a 100mm focal length. It can be either a zoom or a fixed focal length lens. Avoid wide angle lenses since that will often bring too much overhead sky into the image, and can also include unwanted portions of the car's dashboard or sides.
6. Camera settings - This is easiest with your camera set on Shutter Priority. Set your camera to ISO 100, with a shutter speed of 1/2 sec. The f/stop will set itself, and it does not matter much what the f/stop is.
7. Lean forward in your seat and focus on a tree trunk approximately 20 feet away from the car. You will not need to refocus again. This works best when your camera is set up with back-button focus so that your camera is not refocusing each time you press the shutter button. If you are unfamiliar with back-button focus, you can read about it here
8. Now the driver can begin driving down the road at approximately 5 mph. Aim your camera straight out the windshield and start shooting. Take many shots since you never know exactly what you will get.
9. Tips - 1) look for slight curves or bends in the road since that will add leading lines; 2) for some shots, move your camera slightly up and down during the exposure to add more of a sense of movement; 3) feel free to experiment with different camera movements and different shutter speeds; 4) just let yourself go and try a variety of different things since you never know exactly what you will get. The goal is to have fun and end up with some unique and wonderful images.
10. Since each and every shot is an experiment, expect to get many bad shots that do not make you happy. That is perfectly normal. Often I will get only one or two shots I like out of dozens and dozens of attempts.
So get out there and have some fun with a friend! You might end up with real prize winners!
1/2 sec. at f/14, ISO 100. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens set at 100mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body, handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson