Monday, September 14, 2009

Project 4

North of the city center is Munich's main green space, the Englischer Garten, a huge park, running for at least 8km though the heart of the city.  This is Munich's playground, housing some of the cities largest beer gardens (some with seating for over 5,000 drinkers, serving beer only in Litre glasses), but also many sports and recreation areas.  One of the more unusual, and until recently illegal activities in the park is surfing.  A number of very fast running and ice cold canals were diverted from the Isar River and directed through the park.  As one of these enters the park it falls a short distance and a large stopper wave is created on which it is possible to surf.  To provide some context here is a wide angle shot of the wave as a surfer wipes out and another prepares to enter the water
17mm, 1/80, f/8, ISO 400
This scene provided an ideal location to play with shutter speed.  I placed my tripod in a location where  I would be able to capture the most dramatic part of the wave and the surfers as they skim across it.  I used a fast 135mm prime as this provided a tight field of view centered on the wave, but also enough distance from the subject to avoid being sprayed by the surfers. After a few false starts and repositioning, I managed to create a sequence of 10 shots, starting at 1.0 sec and then doubling the shutter speed up to 1/500s.  At the lower shutter speeds I was forced to use a 4 stop ND filter to obtain an acceptable exposure.  Above 1/500s I did not find much variation in the images and stopped the sequence there.  I pretty much shot at random (I forgot my remote shutter release and so had to use a timer), so some frames have surfer in them, some do not, this serendipity seemed to work with the project goal.  The shot that grabs me most is one of the slower ones, 1/4s, in which the surfer is just visible as an impression within the flow of the wave 

135mm, 1/4s, f/25, ISO 100
I repeated this exercise at another location where there was a smaller waterfall that I could get closer to.  This meant that I could more usefully use much higher shutter speeds and really freeze the action of the water as it fell from the ledge of the waterfall.  I was less impressed by the overall sequence, but want to add a few of these images to my blog.
105mm, 1/8s, f/18, ISO 100
105mm, 1/2000s, f/4, ISO 800
In the 1/2000s shot the high shutter speed freezes the shot, but also appears to freeze the water.  No longer is the quality of the water liquid, it has become solid, now there's a thought for the first assignment.

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