Saturday, 28 July 2012

Unexpected directions

There's this gutter on the marsh, right by the road, that has always cried out to be photographed at sunset. Such is it's alignment that right now is probably one of the two annual windows when the sun sets more or less in the ideal place to get it reflected in teh water. With there not being many sunny sunsets of late I took the opportunity yesterday to give it a go.

I didn't expect it to be easy to make something of it. Ideally I'd have got a higher vantage point to take in the pools further out on the marsh, but that didn't seem to be practicable. I spent quite some time, making a lot of exposures, until after the sun had left the sky. One was half reasonable. The best light and cloud combinations all came when the sun was not in the best position.

I used a convenient fence post as a monopod, but I really ought to use a tripod for thsi sort of stuff. It's just that that seems like taking it all too seriously to me. It also kind of commits you to picking one composition and sticking with it, which goes against my impatient nature.

On my way to the gutter I got an idea to photograph the wildflowers growing by the side of the road putting them in the context of their situation colonising the man-made environment. It seemed a reasonable idea to include the traffic, slowing the shutter speed to provide motion blur. A couple worked quite well and it's something I might do again.

With the light failing as I walked back to the car I popped a flash gun on the camera and messed around balancing the artificial and ambient light. In the old sand-plant this gave me my first real concept of how to photograph it's recolonisation by plants. I don't know why the use of flash at dusk makes the photographs work better than ones taken of similar subjects in daylight. Perhaps it's the contrast of light that highlights the contrast of plants against bricks, concrete and rubble. Again this is something that really requires a tripod to get sufficient depth of focus with the slow shutter speed required to expose for the sky, and probably off-camera flash, to do justice to.

Both these ideas are the sort of thing I could imagine a student working up into a project accompanied by a lengthy statement justifying the subject and practice and coming across as ever so intense and pretentious. They're just photographs of an interesting idea to me. I've made a few, so I'll probably leave it. I find that when you start realising what you are doing things become stale and samey. It was the spark of inspiration that lead me to try the two techniques out on the subject that really interested and excited me. Doing it again and again until I get the 'perfect' shot or shots sounds too much like the tedium of work. Although they do say genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Sod that for a game of soldiers!.

What the evening's events did bring home to me is how it's good to have techniques up your sleeve to use when they are fitting to the subject in hand. After all, it was pure chance I put a flash gun in my bag as my intention had been to photograph a sunset. A lot of people are prone to going out with the intention of using a particular technique (such as a slow shutter speed to provide blur) rather than going out looking for pictures and using the technique when it is appropriate. The hard part is remembering these techniques when you need then!

A selection of some slow shutter and flash photographs in the gallery/slideshow below.

No comments: