Movement and slow shutter speed

March 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

One of the first photography books I bought (1980) included a short section on Ernst Haas that I found quite inspirational. Haas was an early exponent of colour photography at a time when BW was king. He worked for Vogue and Life, and was an early member of Magnum Photos. In particular, what interested me was his use of slow shutter speeds in capturing movement and colour.

As I understand the story, he was at a bull fight and found that with a drop in light he was forced to use a slow shutter speed, sometimes down to ~1/10 second and that after the photos were processed he saw that the rendering of movement and colour was impressive http://www.ernst-haas.com/colorGallery03.html .

The first time I tried it was to photograph a van passing my flat in Maidenhead. The shot came back reasonably well exposed and I thought looking good, but Dixons had put a sticker on it telling me how to take clear photos and avoid the blurr.

In 2007 I had the great fortune to spend an afternoon watching Course Camarguaise, the French bull fights where a team of players try to remove tassels from the bull's horns. Not only do the bulls survive, they can attain celebrity status. I had one camera set up to take high speed action shots and one set up to get slower shots when the action moved into the shadows. Unfortunately, the Camarguaise bulls are black and the men were in white, but the arena was at least red. I was quite pleased with some of the shots.

Course CamarguaiseCourse camarguaise

I also started shooting polo in 2007 and discovered that it is a sport that lends its self to slow shutter speeds very nicely. Initially I  put an ND 8 filter on a backup camera and after a lot of trying started getting shots that looked about right. More gratifying yet, some of those photos sold.

2009 poloCornwall Polo Team at Sandhurst At an evening game at RMA Sandhurst I was able to try out the Haas method, once the sun had gone down and the light levels fell.

Summer Nights polo at RMA SandhurstEquestrian Life  Summer Nights polo at SandhurstEquestrian Life

Equestrian Life The final image has been used in a collaboration with fine artist Kate Harding (Kate Harding web site), who has reproduced the image as an oil painting. My interest in capturing movement in this manner exactly matches her vision for movement.

Painting by Kate HardingPainting by Kate Harding

I also been able to take some nice panning shots that work well in black and white. This shot was taken at Ypres beside the Cloth Hall. Ten minutes spent waiting for the right shot was one of the most enjoyable sessions of photography I have had.

Ypres


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