Choose a subject that includes both stillness and movement. Create a series from a
variety of different instances of this subject.
When you’re assessing your photographs, try not to think in terms of what is ‘photogenic’ in the usual sense of the word. Go beyond that. Ask yourself if your photographs communicate what you intended: stillness and movement peacefulness and energy.
Do your photographs communicate any other ideas? In other words, are they symbolic or metaphorical? This capacity to take something unintentional and make something out of it is a sign that you’re developing as a photographer.
Still at Hermitage Basin, the water was partly frozen over, and a flock of seagulls were making the most of the opportunity to stand around and argue over scraps of food.
There was stillness – the frozen stillness of the water, the motionless gulls standing hunched against the cold.
There was movement – the rush of the fountain water, the sudden swoop of a landing gull, the flurry of motion when a piece of bread was thrown onto the ice, the acrobatic fight for possession.
Reflections on the photographs
I had not brought my tripod, so was hand-holding the camera and resting it on the railings, changing from slow to fast shutter speed as events played out.
I was pleased with the results, despite realising I would have been better to use a tripod. I think the unpredictability of the gulls lent itself to the handheld approach and I think some of the unintentional camera movement has added to the blur effect in the slower speed shots, which I really like.
I think if I was looking for a symbolic or metaphorical angle then there is something there about stoic waiting turning into chaotic conflict, but that might be a little too anthropomorphic. There is also a feeling of slightly hallucinogenic confusion in the blurred images that I also quite like.
These are the first two screenshots of a Google image search for Toshio Shibata. After doing the search, before I began looking at individual images I was struck by the themes that emerged from seeing the thumbnails laid out like this.
- resh and latticework
- diagonal bisecting lines
- interlocking shapes
- slowed-down falling water
- vertiginous perspective
There are some very strong repeated ideas emerging here – it was an interesting way to look at a single photographers work.
Looking at some of the images more closely, I really liked the juxtaposition of slowed-down soft misty water against monumental, solid, immovable concrete dams – it makes for thought-provoking contrast. The water becomes almost like a silky veil draped across the solid concrete.
Make a series of experiments bracketing only the shutter speed, for example by
using1/250th sec, then 1/60th sec, 1/15th sec, etc. You’ll go from freezing movement to blurring movement.
Think about interesting moving subjects and note down some ideas: people, nature,
machines, etc. Note the most effective ways you could photograph them: by panning the camera with a moving object or by holding the camera still.
It’s been hard to get out and about in the recent weather apocalypse, and too cold to spend hours outside waiting for things to whizz by at a useful speed, so I ended up visiting Hermitage Basin, a small enclosed body of water near Tower Bridge and very local to where I live in Wapping. I have spent many hours there, admiring the waterlilies in summer, watching the resident heron fishing from his platform, and enjoying the endless bread fights between the ducks, swans, moorhens and gulls that frequent the place.
There is a fountain in the middle of the basin (to keep the water fresh and oxygenated I presume) and I used this for some work on shutter speed. I used shutter priority mode and went to the extremes of fast and slow shutter speed the light conditions would allow, with the aperture changing accordingly.
Fast Shutter: f/5.4 1/1000 sec Slow Shutter f/20 1/8 sec
Fast Shutter: f/5.4 1/1000 sec
Slow Shutter f/20 1/8 sec
You can clearly see the droplets of water in image one, and the water is nicely misty and ethereal in image two.
Notes and ideas on moving subjects.
I had done some thinking about what I could photograph for this exercise, and had thought of the following:
- A busy car-park
- people getting on and off a bus
- traffic from a high vantage point
- Clipper boats on the Thames
- snow falling (I tried this but the snow was too fine to show up well against the sky)
- a tap running
- reeds/wheat blowing in the wind
In the end the weather restricted me as I wanted to get this section done and get on with the first Assignment.