Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An unusual shot

Last to last Sunday, we went to Kalyan for my brother's engagement. The programme went well... well... only until we were returning back to Pune. A few kilometers before Lonavla our bus's fan belt broke and we were left stranded on the expressway. It was dusk already and vehicles going by had their lights on.
       Luckily I had my camera with me so,I decided to take capture some light trails. Unfortunately, i had not carried my tripod, so i had to take all the shots handheld. It was a learning experience.
       Good light trails are not easy to get. IMO, the best ones can be got when you are standing above the source of light(such as, on an overbridge). They come out better if the road is a one-way. On two way streets, the head lights of incoming vehicles blow out parts of the picture. To get a good shot in such a position is non-trivial. I decided to try it out. After a few trials, I got this one (some PP added) -

                                                        [click to enlarge]
      The red streaks are the tail lamps of cars passing by me. The head lamps of incoming vehicles can be seen in bright. This is a 3.2 second exposure at f/8. Simple long exposures were coming too ordinary. So, I decided to zoom out the lens during the exposure. I think that is what has made the difference. The texture formed at the bottom is a result of the zooming. I think, I started with around 35mm and zoomed out to 18. I wanted an object an object to appear close to the camera(to underline the visual effect of the zoom), so after a bit searching around, found the twig that you can see near the bottom.
    The yellowish light is the light coming from the parking lights of our bus parked by the side. Fortunately, it was not too strong to light the entire road and coming vehicles. Choosing the aperture value is an important part, especially when shooting trails from close. Because a smaller value (i.e larger aperture) can get you out of focus areas as the vehicle moves further. A larger value (i.e smaller aperture) won't let in enough light to get clear details in the short interval that the vehicle passes by you. In fact, this same thing happened to me. I, then, bumped up the ISO to 400 as a compensation. Another problem to be faced when taking light trails from close is that - the light from the head lamp of the vehicle the tail lights of which you want to capture also might come in the picture and blow out the darker details. This happens because you are standing close to the vehicle. The remedy is to angle the camera in such a way that the vehicle does not come into view until it has gone some distance away from where you are standing. Trial-n-error is the best way to figure out what angle works best.
      I must mention that, the photo here does not look beautiful in the classical sense (like a photo of a rose or a sunset or a fine lady), but it looks different and somewhat surreal. For anyone interested in photography, taking light trails will be exciting :)

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