Canal Lock Waterfall Exposure Experiment

Canal Lock Waterfall Exposure Experiment

This is one of the first experiments that came out of a short (hour long) walk on Monday afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day and I decided this would be a great opportunity to test out the limits of my new lens before next weekend. I did my usual walk around the block down the Bridgewater Canal, past the Deansgate Locks and through Castlefield before returning back to my flat. This photograph was taken of the last lock in the Deansgate Locks set before Castlefield. I don’t take my tripod out on short walks like this in daylight, but instead use a monopod, a one legged tripod. Although it isn’t as good for long exposures, it really helped here.

So what did I do? Well, if you hadn’t already guessed it, the above image is two photographs. The left side has an exposure time of 1/640th of a second whereas the right side of the image has an exposure time of 1/30th of a second. Using Photoshops “auto align layers” function I was able to get the two images perfectly aligned one above the other and then simply erased one side of the waterfall giving the effect you see here. I got this idea when sitting watching the waterfall. I didn’t know if the photo should have a slow or fast shutter speed, some people prefer water pictures with blurred water and some with sharp water, then it came to me why not have both?

What I didn’t expect was how the image would look. In my opinion this looks really weird, as if the water on the left is moving much slower than the water on the right. This is simply an optical illusion. It makes me wonder how far I could take this type of experiment. Anything where the camera captures something the human eye can’t see is something I have found interesting to record.

Britannia Hotel, Manchester at Night

Britannia Hotel, Manchester at Night

I go past this hotel every time I walk into the city centre and always think to myself “that would make a great photograph at night”. Well here it is, but two points that might interest you, firstly the advert in the bottom left of this image was impossible to not include without standing in the middle of the road so I blurred it out using Photoshop to make it a little less distracting. If you can guess what company this advert is from in the comments then you impress me.

During this 20 second exposure a bus and dozens of people went by in front of the camera, people don’t generally have lights on them so they don’t show up but the light trails from the bus can be seen if you look closely. Portland Street is a very busy street with a lot of traffic and any time of the day, there are two major bus / coach stations within 200 yards of where this photograph was taken so it would be almost impossible not to get some traffic in the picture, but I feel that it adds to this image.

China Town Light Trails, Manchester

China Town Light Trails, Manchester

It seems like here in Manchester the only type of photography I can be happy with in winter is night photography. The above image was captured last night on the corner of Portland Street looking down York Street on the edge of the cities China Town district. Mark and I had actually stopped to take some photos of the Britannia Hotel on the other side of Portland Street. Just as we were about to move on I looked down this side street and saw the neon sign for the Vina karaoke Bar and the ornate colour lights zig zagging down the street and felt like I could make a photo out of this view.

When I had set up the tripod and got my settings right on the camera I took a test picture and thought there was too much dark, boring and unlit areas in the middle and bottom of the frame. So I took another exposure of 20 seconds at f/20. Not having a cable release I used the cameras self-timer mode (set to 2 seconds) to reduce any camera shake by pressing the shutter to take the picture. What I didn’t see was the double decker bus turning right into this street, once the timer was up the shutter opened just as the bus was in front of the camera. Then a taxi and smaller bus followed across my photo. This was the result and I love taking photographs like this, it is one of the few types of photo that the human eye can’t see but the camera can record. I would love to produce a series of these light trail night pictures around the city.

Interior Details of Piano Strings and Hammers

Interior Details of Piano Strings and Hammers

The above photograph is my attempt to record what happens when you open the lid of an upright or vertical piano (as apposed to a grand piano). The camera is on top of the instrument looking down inside, obviously it is a low light situation, but on a beautiful example like this one, I feel that it makes for an interesting image.

For a little background, I was at my cousins house (well my dad’s twin sister and her families house) on Sunday night for a meal. Due to a 2008 project on instruments I thought I would try and capture a few photos, because two of my cousins are very musically talented playing the piano, guitar, flute etc. Their piano was crying out to be photographed and I was looking forward to taking some great photos of it.

I was wrong – I never knew how hard it is to photograph instruments until I tried! Despite the fact that many of them are shiny and reflective, they are often awkward shapes. The above photograph was impossible to capture hand held because I found it required a tiny aperture of f/22 to keep maximum sharpness throughout the strings and due to the lack of light inside the piano, it ended up being a 30 second exposure time. Luckily my Gorilla Pod from Joby really helped me out and enabled me to rest the camera on top, but also frame the image exactly the way I wished.

Then I took the photo and it was rubbish – it lacked something, so I thought I would press a few notes (I would say play a few notes, but that implies I have musical talent or know how to play the piano and neither assumptions would be correct). When I took this photo with the hammers hitting the strings the vibration from the whole instrument moving caused my picture to be very blurred. So the above photograph is my third attempt, where I took a long 30 second exposure, but gently moved the hammers (by pressing the keys very lightly) but not enough to vibrate the strings, make sound or cause a lot of vibrations. This photograph represents one of the largest technical hurdles / problems I have had to get over in my photography recently. Whilst writing this I am already getting great ideas about how I could improve and retake this image and for me, this is what photography is all about.