Monday, February 6, 2017

Capturing Movement

Sunday afternoon I went for a walk with my camera. It's all my wife and kids fault -- they gave me a Fitbit for my birthday and I had to walk to get my 10,000 steps for the day.   I had brought my camera not knowing what I would find at Warriors Path State Park.

The skies had cleared and there was plenty of light for a change.  I was hoping to get some more shots of the Osprey or Belted Kingfisher that had been there a few weeks earlier. Neither was around that afternoon, possibly due to the two Bald Eagles that had been there a couple days before.  What I did find was a flock of Ring-Billed Gulls hanging around the marina and making a mess of the roof.

Ring-Billed Gulls
Click on any image for a full-size view you can flip through.

Gulls pooping on a roof is not the most interesting photo so I decided to try something different.   I set my camera to create the slowest possible shutter speed given the abundant ambient light. I set the aperture to f/22 and the ISO to 200.  This gave me a shutter speed around 1/10 of a second.   I needed this slow shutter speed because I wanted to capture the birds in a blur of motion.

1/10 sec, f/22, 300mm
All I had to do then was wait for the flock to take off from the roof and fly around. I had seen them do this earlier and was hoping they would accommodate my photographic desires.

I was using a 55-200mm zoom lens on my Fuji mirrorless camera, which gave me an effective focal length of 83-300mm. Hand holding this long lens with a slow shutter meant I was going to have camera movement and the background was not going to be sharp.  To mitigate this challenge I used one of my favorite techniques.  I put the camera on burst mode and made a lot of shots.

1/9 sec, f/22, 300mm
Not all the shots were blurred. Not saying they were sharp, but they were better than I expected.  If I had a monopod I might have been able to keep the camera a little more steady.  The black and white photo above contrasts the ghostly bird movement with the bare trees in the background.

1/7 sec, f/14, 300mm, cropped
I made the color shot above while I was tracking a single gull with my camera.  The camera movement blurred the colorful background. I think this works because the background is reflections in the water which blurred nicely into a soft palette of color.

1/30 sec, f/14, 300mm
The last shot was taken near the end of my walk when I was approaching 10,000 steps.  I had my camera set for a faster shutter speed to make photos of slow moving ducks on the water when three came across the lake and landed in front of me.  No time to change settings.  A shutter speed of 1/30 is not going to stop the motion but the slight blur kind of works here.

I had fun trying to work with motion blur and camera blur to give a sense of movement across the photo.   Next nice day I'm going to have to go back and work on this some more.

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