Monday, 5 March 2018

Heath Robinson-inspired zoom bursts

WEEK 8Technical: Zoom BurstBy changing the focal length during long exposure you can add movement to your frame, producing leading lines within your frame.
The 8th week challenge was a technical one I thought would be impossible to achieve as a self portrait once I figured out what I had to do.
Initially, I thought it was to create a photo using a still subject but showing movement by using a slow shutter speed so I thought of using the shower and capturing the motion of running water.. but it wasn't that at all.
Eventually realised what the challenge meant and realised I had to physically zoom in or out while the photo is taken.. somehow whilst being the subject of the photo too, staying true to the self-portrait project.
So I used a 16-35mm zoom and put the tripod above and near to my head on the bed, making sure the window light was behind me so I wouldn't be uplit. Practised the motion of zooming the lens during the exposure first on 'Flump,' a rather inanimate polar bear and in the beginning there were quite a few photos like the following:

When I got the hang of it, I set the camera to take a photo every 5 seconds, set a whole second shutter speed, and first of all started taking photos by manually zooming the lens with my hand behind my head. This didn't look great obviously because my arm reaching for the camera was in the shot, and heavily distorted, so I started thinking about some sort of pulley system / string, (channelling my inner Heath Robinson) to tie around the lens to zoom it in & out without me needing to have my hand on it.

This is where Simon came in handy, (hoorah for prop guys!) because he made a stick from an old wooden spoon, gaffataped it to the lens and I tied some string from the end of the stick to act like a lever. Had to wind the string round another light stand so the physics worked and I didn't just pull the camera on top of me.

I honestly didn't know whether it would work or not - was quite scepical, but it did! And any string that was in the shot in my hand was blurred in the zoom burst, so I don't think you could really see what was going on from the photos alone.

Was very hard to keep my face still to keep it sharp while pulling the string, but I'm really quite happy with these. They're creepy and a bit weird, especially the last shot.

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