Using fast shutter speeds, try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject. Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible blur in the photograph. Try to find the beauty in a fragment of time that fascinated John Szarkowski. Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you captured the images), to your learning log.
For this exercise I chose to use the subject matter of a T20 cricket match at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. I shot from the stands and used my Canon 5D Mkiii and Canon 75-300mm zoom lens with a 1.4 teleconverter. I stayed in the same seated position throughout the match and attempted to catch pieces of action. my favourite shot is Image 4 in which I catch the bails in the air – not quite the beauty that fascinated John Szarkowski, but a beautiful moment for the Lancashire bowler!
In order to present the images it was necessary to crop them heavily to see the action.
Image 1: 1/2500 f/9.0 ISO 2000
Image 2: 1/2500 f/8.0 ISO 800
Image 3: 1/2500 f/8.0 ISO 2500
Image 4: 1/2000 f/8.0 ISO 2000
Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the focus to infinity and take a second shot.
For this exercise, I took a couple of shots around Hucknall Train Station. For thess shot I used a Canon 7D (crop sensor) with a Canon 70-300mm lens set at ISO 200 and shutter priority 1/1250, f/4.5, 100mm.
The following shots were taken – the first with the reverse of the ticket reader in focus and the steps out of focus, the second with the steps almost in focus and the ticket reader out of focus.
Choose a subject in front of a background with depth. Select your shortest focal length and take a close low viewpoint, below your subject. Find a natural point of focus and take the shot.
You’ll see that a very wide lens together with a close viewpoint creates extreme perspective distortion. Gently receding lines become extreme diagonals and rounded forms bulge towards the camera. Space appears to expand. The low viewpoint adds a sense of monumentality, making the subject seem larger than it is, and tilting the camera adds to the effect as vertical lines dramatically converge. Not the ideal combination for a portrait shot!
For this exercise, I took a shot around Hucknall Train Station. For this shot I used a Canon 7D (crop sensor) with a Canon 70-300mm lens set at ISO 200 and shutter priority 1/250, f/8, 70mm.
The following shot was taken:
By taking the shot from below, the top of the card reader appears wider than it should. If this were a human face, shooting from this perspective would give an odd shaped result!
Find a location with good light for a portrait shot. Place your subject some distance in front of a simple background and select a wide aperture together with a moderately long focal length such as 100mm on a 35mm full-frame camera (about 65mm on a cropped-frame camera). Take a viewpoint about one and a half metres from your subject, allowing you to compose a headshot comfortably within the frame. Focus on the eyes and take the shot.
For this exercise, I took a shot around Hucknall Train Station. For this shot I used a Canon 7D (crop sensor) with a Canon 70-300mm lens set at ISO 200 and shutter priority 1/1250, f/4.5, 100mm.
The following shot was taken:
Here the depth of field ensures that the subject matter is in focus but the steps in the background are very out of focus.
Select your longest focal length and compose a portrait shot fairly tightly within the frame in front of a background with depth. Take one photograph. Then walk towards your subject while zooming out to your shortest focal length. Take care to frame the subject in precisely the same way in the viewfinder and take a second shot. Compare the two images and make notes in your learning log.
For this exercise, I took a couple of shots of a road traffic sign. For these shots I used a Canon 400D (crop sensor) with a 18-55mm kit lens set at ISO 200 and shutter priority 1/160.
Image 1 – 18mm
Image 2 – 55mm
Whilst the road sign looks similar in both images, the backgrounds look very different. The shorter focal length (Image 1 – 18mm) looks much more natural in terms of how the street scene actually looked. Using a longer focal length (Image 2 – 55mm) brings the background much closer to the fore.
Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint. (You might like to use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel.)
As you page through the shots on the preview screen it almost feels as though you’re moving through the scene. So the ability to change focal lengths has an obvious use: rather than physically moving towards or away from your subject, the lens can do it for you. The other immediate difference between the shots is the ‘angle of view’, which also depends on the sensor size of your camera. Use the sequence to try to get a feeling for how the angle of view corresponds to the different focal lengths for your particular camera and lens combination. Which shot in the sequence feels closest to the angle of view of your normal vision?
For this exercise, I took a few shots around Hucknall Train Station. For these shots I used a Canon 400D (crop sensor) with a 18-55mm kit lens set at ISO 200 and shutter priority 1/160.
The following shots were taken:
Image 1 – 18mm
Image 2 – 30mm
Image 3 – 37mm
Image 4 – 55mm
The image most closely resembling the view I could see with my eyes is Image 2 – 30mm. This focal length would be equivalent to 49mm with a full frame sensor.