EYV 3 Exercise 3.1

The brief

Using fast shutter speeds, try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject. Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process, to your learning log.

My shots

f/1.8 1/1250 ISO 400 focal length 50 mm

f/1.8 1/4000 ISO 200 focal length 50 mm

f/1.8 1/640 ISO 400 focal length 50 mm

Processes

For the jumping image I set my camera’s self-timer to take 10 consecutive shots with a 10-second initial delay, and jumped up and down continuously. The first time I tried this, when I pressed the shutter button the camera focused on the only object available to it, which was the seat behind me in the image. Because I’d set the fastest available shutter speed (1/1250), the aperture was large (f/1.8) and the depth of field very shallow, so my legs were blurred. For subsequent attempts I used a stool to set the focus, then moved the stool and stood in its place during the countdown period. I realised afterwards that there’s something rather macabre about the shot as it’s impossible to know whether the feet are dangling beneath a hanging corpse or are the springs that propelled the legs into the air, and at this stage of the jump they look a bit more like the former than the latter.

For the seagull image I walked along the cliff above the marina trying to shoo the seagulls sitting on fenceposts into taking off so that I could snap them. They were generally pretty reluctant to leave their perches but I did manage to get a few to do so. Not all the images seemed to convey a sense of the frozen moment, but I felt this one did.

The self-timer came in handy again for the dripping tap shot. I had some difficulty getting a good focus at the point where the water would be dripping, so used my finger as a rough stand-in and then moved the camera slightly during the delay period until the drips looked to be in focus. The other difficulty was getting the tap to drip slowly enough that it didn’t turn into a trickle but fast enough that it wouldn’t stop dripping before the 10-second delay was up. I took about 50 shots altogether, of which only a handful included anything resembling a convincing drip.

Comments

On the subject of the macabre, I came across a disturbing image I hadn’t seen before this week – a picture taken by photojournalist Richard Drew of a man falling from a tower during the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. The shocking inevitabilty of the man’s fate is amplifed by this frozen moment as we realise that the man was not caught in the same way that his image was.

In many ways this picture is probably more disturbing than one of the man lying dead on the pavement after the event would have been. This realisation, plus the overtones I saw in my own hanging/jumping image, has made me aware that the frozen moment image has a particularly strong ability to convey the horror of an event that can’t be undone.

Richard Drew: Falling Man (11 September 2001)