Portrait of a Young Lady
Assignment #8 of my year-long photo challenge inspired by Henry Carroll’s Use This If You Want To Take Great Photographs is from page 121: Show us that photography is a form of magic.
Things are gonna get technical this time. Really technical. ISO 100, 150 sec at f/22 kind of technical. Because while I think photography possesses a type of poetic, storytelling magic, the kind I usually try to capture, it also possesses technical magic. The kind that literally makes a person disappear.
The above shot did not turn out like I wanted. But, I only had 2 shots at it (excellent pun intended). It was sundown, starting to rain, and my daughter, Sophia, and I were in a nearby forest. I pushed my aperture to its max for the lens I was using, f/22, to kill as much ambient as possible, because I intended to show how a subject can exist over the entirety of a shutter clip but appear all in the same resulting photograph. The idea was to create one photograph that included multiple Sophias, leaning on a tree, twirling in the brush, skipping down the path, staring at the camera, etc. I knew I could do this by dragging my shutter and asking her to take long pauses between poses.
These “multiplicity” photos exist most commonly in composite form, as that technique makes these photos easier to nail sharp focus and detail. See the below example photo from one of my very talented buddies, David Mattos. Below photo is copyright of David Mattos.
Isn’t that cute!? I love it. But, I wanted to harness the power of the camera to do this without compositing.
To do this, I set my camera to bulb and held the shutter button down, while Sophia walked from spot to spot and paused for 10 seconds or so, then walked to another spot and paused for another 10 seconds. And the above forest scene is what I got. I knew that I wouldn’t get a crisp image of her. That would be impossible without introducing flash. There’s no way she can stay still that long at that slow a shutter. But, I did think I would get faint outlines of her in each pose. But I got pretty much nada. If you look really closely, you’ll see a bit of white ghosting in the final shot. I had asked her to wear white so she would pop against the green of the trees. But nothing distinguishable enough for you to know where she was posing unless I pointed it out, which I’ll do in 3…2…
So, this technique needs practice. BUT, how magical is it that I pretty much made her disappear from the frame? She was roaming all over that area during the 150 second shutter, and there’s barely a trace of her.
Up next? Assignment #9: “Use framing to create a photograph within a photograph,” page 56! :) Assignment #9 will be posted May 15.