Try as I might I just don’t really like zoom lenses – I generally find them cumbersome and awkward to use. I’ve always said I’d far rather carry two separate low-light lenses with wide open apertures and swap them about as necessary than carry one heavy zoom with relatively limited apertures. I’m not particularly good at hand-holding my camera steady for any length of time, and to date I’ve not been keen to use a tripod, so this may have a lot to do with my preference for faster lenses that let in lots of lovely light.
However, now that I do have a tripod, I’ve discovered that there is one kind of image my zoom lens can take that none of my prime lenses can manage – it requires a long shutter speed that changes focal length during the exposure, known as a zoom burst image. I’m not sure how practical that may be for everyday use, but it’s a challenge I haven’t yet tried and I figured I might as well give it a go… So combining many of the new skills I’ve learned during the course of this month (including developing photographic patience!), here is my artistically creative, very weird-looking zoom-burst version of a congratulatory bunch of flowers for all of this year’s Blogging A-Z Challenge participants, with a huge ‘well done’ to all of us!
I took this crazy-looking shot of a vase of orange carnations from above, using a tripod to hold my camera steady while my zoom lens was (inexpertly) turned manually from telephoto to wide-angle during the exposure. It took a lot of trial and error (and I do mean a lot) to get anything anywhere half decent enough to use for this post. I tried so many different permutations of everything before getting to this point, as there are so many different elements to play about with – to zoom outwards or zoom inwards, ND filter or no ND filter, which shutter speed and aperture combination, where best to fix the manual focus (starting point or end point), how quick or slow to manually turn the zoom, what makes the best background?
I found placing the vase directly onto the neutral-coloured kitchen flooring was just too bright, with too much reflected light over-exposing the resulting images, and using an ND filter to reduce the amount of light entering the camera just didn’t work at all well here. So I tried putting the vase on a matte reddish-pink scarf, but although the exposure was much better with the darker colour, it proved to be just too similar to the colour of the flowers. I finally ended up sitting the vase on a washed-out, faded tie-dyed cotton wrap, and the muted blend of colours added nicely to the overall groovy psychedelic effect without detracting from the flowers.
I found it produced a far better effect to focus manually at the expected zoomed-out end-point, and then without touching the focus ring carefully zoom in again before taking the shot while progressively zooming out. I set the camera (fully on manual) at ISO100, f/22 for 2 seconds, opened the shutter and started zooming out continuously as smoothly as possible until the shutter closed again. The final result may be technically far from perfect, as ideally I wouldn’t want to be touching the camera while taking a slow exposure, but it’s impossible to zoom without taking a hands-on approach along the barrel of the lens so I guess a little camera shake was inevitable. And actually I quite like the soft blurriness of the central flower-bud, it all adds to the overall wacky effect…
So here we are at last, at the final letter of this Blogging from A-Z Challenge – phew! And now that’s over I’m sure we could all do with some well-earned Zzzzzz… 🙂