Taking the camera and shooting underground is always a good option when the weather is bad on the surface. Commuters are usually too much in a hurry to notice the inconspicuous standing street photographer, especially when he shoots with a small camera like the Olympus PEN-F with the attached 17mm F/1.8 prime lens. This photo I took crouched down, two catch the pigeon trying to beat the people exiting the train to the escalator (…just joking).
While the streets of Nuremberg are graced only by a touch of snow, Southern Bavaria and the Alps are hit by the worst winter weather in a decade. Downtown Munich (just 90 miles south) sports a whopping 2-3 feet of snow, and in the mountains many villages are cut-off from the rest of the world buried under up to 9 feet of snow. It will continue the snow and there is significant danger for people and buildings. Almost all small roads and train lines are interrupted. The winter weather is forecasted to continue well into next week. I cancelled the business day trip to Munich scheduled for today to avoid having to drive into the chaos.
“Instant Inspirations” is my series for you if you look for something to overcome “Photographer’s Block” or simply want to shoot something that you have never tried, or at least not recently. Episode 28 is for you, if you think you have those really steady photographers hands.
Last night I grabbed my camera and headed into town, using a short window where the rain of the last days actually stopped – here in Nuremberg we can still dream of a White Christmas, but it won’t happen. Forecasts call for a real wash-out. Global warming?
The Christkindlesmarkt in the Old Town was packed with visitors, as everybody used the opportunity for Glühwein and Bratwurst without getting soaked.
While I did have Glühwein and Bratwurst, my real goal was to experiment with slow shutter speeds, and doing this handheld. And I mean reeeally slow shutter speeds, as in one and a half seconds. I wanted to capture the motion blurred movement of the strolling visitors, while keeping the stationary background sharp.
I was shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with my trusted all-round 12-100mm F/4. This lens has actually built-in image stabilization, that can be combined with the camera’s internal 5-axis image stabilization. With this cam-lens combo I frequently do shoot 1/5 sec and know that I can get real sharp results. But 1/5 sec is not enough to capture the motion blur I was after. So I was doing trial and error shooting while slowing down the shutter speed even more. Isn’t that creative, experimental approach something that makes photography even more fun? I feel like a little child doing playing in my photographic sandbox. In the end I found that dialing in a 1.6 second shutter speed gave me the best results. One point six seconds. Count slowly “Twenty-one, twenty…”. And this while holding the camera above my head using the foldable back screen to compose.
I was totally amazed that the wooden stalls and the buildings in the background actually came out pretty sharp. I know I have steady hands when photographing, but would never have thought I can get away with shooting one and one half second and get a sharp background. But see yourself. Amazing technology.
The above photograph I had in mind taking when heading into town. I knew that on the Children’s Christmas Market was a carousel and a little ferris wheel, I wanted to combine the vertical and horizontal motions into one motion blurred image. Also this one I shot holding the cam above my head.
I was quite happy with the results, although using this technique is a lot of hit and miss. But hey, that’s why we shoot digital.
Obviously, you can use a tripod to achieve the same effect, probably with better and much more consistent results. But in certain situations, like on a packed Christmas Market, there is no way to set up a tripod, so this technique comes in quite handy.
All photos post processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC
If you feel inspired to take your camera and experiment with handheld shooting at very slow shutter speeds, post the links to the results in the comments below.
A lot of other tips and all previous episodes of my Instant Inspirations around photography you can find in my free Learning Center.
Sometimes I feel like I’m gliding through this world like a ghost. Here, there, everywhere. Constantly changing places, changing tasks, seemingly always on a whisk, not able to properly plant a foot. The glory of business travel. After ten days in the Pacific Northwest I’m on my way home, currently at Zurich Airport, waiting for my last flight of the trip back to Nuremberg (this time my routing was PDX-SFO-ZRH-NUE). And hey, I got to catch at least a glimpse of San Francisco while approaching the Bay Area.
The flight across the big Ocean on a United Dreamliner B787-800 was kind of special, as, for the second time in not more than a few weeks, I had my Flight Captain retire on me. Like the first time back in July on a Delta Amsterdam to Portland flight, there was a big party organized by the crew, complete with a big sign in front of the cabin signaling the final farewell. Myself flying in seat 1D, I was surrounded by the pilots family, ready to embark on a European vacation after the final landing of an accomplished career at Zurich airport. Isn’t this a happy retirement in style?
The photo above was taken with the Olympus PEN-F and the mZuiko 12mm F/2. Image specs are 1/5 sec @ f/8 and ISO 1600. I had dialed in a slow shutter speed of 1/5 sec, perfect to capture the ghostly appearance of the passing shoppers on a Berlin evening. I loved the lighting of this shop window, the texture of the decoration. Then it was a matter to wait until two pedestrians passed each other in front. I shot in the monochrome mode of the PEN-F, intending a black&white image from the beginning.
Well, to be correct, last evening was not all that fair, but rather rainy. The summer is taking break in Nuremberg, before we are supposed to get another heat wave starting tomorrow. Still, we went to our local little summer fair, and I brought my (in this combination weatherproof) Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4 for some shooting in the blue hour. Fairgrounds are great places to snap away, colorful and full of happy people. The person behind the camera can shoot fairly inconspicuous. You can experiment with various depth of fields and shutter speeds. For the rest of the photographs continue after the jump… Continue reading “Fair Evening”→
The hot summer weather came to a shrieking halt today, as a series of heavy thunderstorms passed over the Streets of Nuremberg. Nature is in dire need of the water after weeks of drought. And after spending the last evenings in the beer gardens of the Old Town, today people were rushing to seek shelter from the arriving torrential rains.
Time for me to work through my emails and catch up with blogging. There is an advantage to everything.
All around, no flowers in bloom
Nor maple leaves in glare,
A solitary fisherman’s hut alone
On the twilight shore
Of this autumn eve.
Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241)
This morning I read this beautiful, almost nine hundred years old Japanese poem in the (most interesting) book “Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers”. And somehow it reflects the mood of this day at the very end of our two week Christmas break. Tomorrow it is back to the job that pays the bills.
I took the photo on a gloomy day at Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. I wanted to capture the motion of the dark, fast moving clouds, so I dialed in the lowest native ISO on my PEN-F, the narrowest aperture (f/22), with resulted in a shutter speed of 56 seconds. Obviously, the cam was sitting on a tripod. It resulted in a kind of Zen-ish image, a creative genre of photography that I want to explore a bit more this year besides my usual street work.
As already mentioned in my previous post, I’ve spent last weekend in our Nation’s Capital, which is always a treat. As the main purpose of the trip was visiting a very close friend and going on a specialty Whiskey tasting (which was totally awesome by the way), an actual visit to the Streets of Berlin was limited to a few hours on Saturday when we went to the Potsdamer Platz district, visited the Mall of Berlin and the Otto Bock Science Center. I brought along the Olympus PEN-F with the mZuiko 14-10mm F/4-5.6 travel zoom, and after the jump you can see some of the results…. Continue reading “On the Streets of Berlin”→