The weather lately has been a bit of a wipe out – heavy rain, strong winds and boring skies. Not very inspiring. But then, I thought, maybe it was too easy to just blame the weather for my lack of inspiration. So I decided to try something a bit different. Occasionally photographs will find you, but most of the time you have to go and get them for yourself. I knew I wanted to capture the motion of the wind, so I grabbed my tripod and my coat. And the camera.
In windy conditions it helps to have a good tripod. If you don’t currently own a tripod then you’ll just have to trust me on that one. If you have a crappy tripod yourself, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Even though I set out to capture the blur of motion, I didn’t want just any old motion, so the tripod was a key piece of equipment. If I just wanted blur I could have simply held the camera out at arms length for 1/2 a second. I wanted to capture the flowers dancing to the tune of the wind – and that starts with a steady camera. Not only does the final result look better, but I feel it is somewhat more authentic and interesting.
The idea is to get a “slow enough” shutter speed, and it really is a trial and error process. Because you want a long exposure, you might as well start with a low ISO. Perhaps you’re thinking you should set your camera to shutter priority mode – feel free to do so, but in my opinion you’re better off shooting in manual mode. Take a test shot, then look at your LCD screen. First, check you have a good exposure. Then, decide whether you want more or less blur. If you want more blur then use a slower shutter speed and vice versa – but remember to keep an eye on your overall exposure after you change your manual settings.
Canon 5D, 1/4 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100, 25mm (EF17-40mm f/4L USM):
I found shutter speeds between 1 second and 1/4 of a second turned out well, but it really does depend on wind speed and personal taste. Experiment. Try different angles. Try including some foreground or background interest – if you’re using a good tripod and a small enough aperture then they should be in sharp focus which will give your image another dimension with the contrast of motion and stillness.
Processing images makes a world of difference. It may go with or against your own philosophy, but for me it’s an integral part of my workflow. I’m not trying to document; I’m trying to create – so I’ll take those RAW files to within an inch of their life.
And there we have it – motion and colour. Ones for the portfolio? No, not really. But desktop wallpaper worthy? Certainly.