Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hei-a-ho! Hei-a-ho! Hei-a-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: (On Lens Choice, part 4, conclusion) Starting hand-held allowed me to explore possibilities. In addition to finding the best angles and positions, I also determined exposure settings.

What shutter speed would produce the kind of motion blur I wanted? The blacksmith's moving limbs probably shouldn't look like dismemberments. Experimentation suggested shutter speeds between 1/30 and 1/125 might work; 1/60 probably was ideal.

While I focused on the blacksmith, the beauty and importance of the shop grew on me; I realized I needed to keep the background also in focus. How much depth of field would the light permit? Probably not enough.

The solution of last resort is to bump the ISO. I knew that in processing I would be pulling detail from dark corners, and that would make the graininess worse, so I set the limit at ISO 800, two additional stops of light traded for grittiness that would fit the subject, I hoped.

With 2 more stops I was still shooting at f7.1 and 1/20th. Even with VR, that's not reliable hand-held shooting, especially when zoomed out. Once angles were decided I returned to shooting from my tripod but with the ball head free to swivel.

The work of blacksmiths does not usually produce sparks, but when asked, Will obliged. I found coordinating the shower of sparks to the wink of the shutter to be ticklish. The best shower happened on Will's first stroke; because it was the first stroke, it was the hardest to synchronize. The shutter must open as the sparks diverge and stay open long enough for them to cross a significant part of the image. Too short an exposure and the ember won't have a trail; as the exposure gets longer, the ember trail fades. I used the same exposure here as previously. Successes were few, rejects many.