Thursday, July 23, 2009

American Pie

Image by
Rod Deutschmann
IFLC instructor

This is one of my all-time favorites. It marks a turning point in my approach to photography. There is so much happening in this image it's hard to pinpoint one particular technique that allowed it to happen.

I probably should begin with the fact that this was shot on bulb. Now don't freak out. I teach this technique during some of my more advanced courses and most of my students get it within two hours or so of practice.

The most important part of this process though is visualization — you have to know what you want your image to look like before you begin. Of course a FIRM understanding (or mastering) of basic mechanics is essential — which means shooting and living in Manual Mode.

The rest is simply academic. Move the camera and you can blur a tier of graphic information. Learn to control the blur and you can make it do what you want it to do. Know what you want to say and just use the blur to make your statement more pronounced.

Bulb painting and its associated techniques is something I've been working on for years. In American Pie we see the affectionately titled 'swiggle' technique being employed along with a dragged focal length change during a single exposure. I used this combination of techniques and theory to achieve the dark and brooding atmosphere surrounding this county fair clown.

Yes, bulb painting is a tough and complicated process and the techniques take a while to master — but the results are worth the effort. Especially when you consider this is what it looked like coming out of the camera.

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