2 Aug 2013

Breaking the Photography Rules Part 5 - Playing with the Zoom

A basic rule in photography is to get an image in focus and sharp (or at least the desired part of it), keeping the camera and lens static while the photo is being taken. Occasionally, though, I try to ignore this rule and experiment with moving the camera &/or lens while shooting. I wrote an earlier blog about panning, where you pan the camera in order to freeze a moving object (against a seemingly moving background). It's also fun to experiment with moving the zoom lens itself, but keeping the camera still, when photographing a static object; the results can be quite eye-popping!

Firstly you'll obviously need a zoom lens in order to do this. Exposure length needs to be long enough to be able to physically move the lens. The shots I took below (at night) were at 0.8 or 0.6 seconds respectively; if you're shooting during the day you'll need an ND filter to reduce the light and allow you to expose for longer. You'll need to focus on the subject first (using back-button focusing is helpful), then press the shutter and then move the lens - either in or out - quickly but smoothly (the smoother the better). It takes practise and the shots might look jerky or strange. Whether you like the result will be a matter of taste and the effect won't work with many subjects. These two images were my favourite ones of Rome's Colisseum, where I tried out this technique a couple of years ago.

I was using a wide-angle (10-22mm) lens on my old Canon 400D and shot at f/4, ISO 400. I did have to do a little cloning on the first image to remove an ugly light trail that just didn't look right in the shot - this is a hazard of the method. The Colisseum is an often-photographed building and photographs can sometimes look a bit dull, like the one below. I think the magnificent structure lends itself to being zoomed, given all those wonderful arches!

I haven't done much playing around with the zoom like this - but writing this has reminded me how much fun it can be, so it's something I'm going to set myself to do over the next week! I'll be on the look-out for scenes/buildings with which it might work.

Coming Soon - Breaking the Photography Rules Part 6 - Shoot Out of Focus

See also: Part 1 - Go Out in the Midday Sun
                Part 2 - Ignore the Thirds Rule of Composition
                Part 3 - Turn it Upside-Down!
                Part 4 - Shooting Landscapes in Portrait Orientation
                Part 6 - Shooting Out of Focus

Please visit my website - www.sophiecarrphotography.com

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