Sunday, November 13, 2005


I've tried photographing Ocotillo cacti on several occasions out at Big Bend and have continually been frustrated by the results. This time around I slowed down and really tried to think what it was about these beautiful, glowing cacti that was catching my eye and imagination. I came to realise that it was really the beautiful yellow glow of the sun through the leaves that was intriguing me, along with the long, straggly growth of the branches. I decided that something a bit more impressionistic would capture this rather than another failed literal shot. I positioned myself with the sun right behind the cactus, giving the best glow through the leaves. I had found an ocotillo that had an area of dark shade behind it to further increase the contrast between the foreground and background elements. I stopped my lens all the way down to f32, at ISO 100, giving an exposure of 1 second. During the exposure I moved the camera vertically, along similar lines to the thrust of the Ocotillo branches. One big advantage of doing a slow exposure blur like this in very high contrast lighting is that the motion blur of the camera tends to reduce the overall contrast of the scene. Highlight area and shadow areas are blurred, which reduces the contrast and means that a more even exposure results than would be possible with a literal shot. I use this technique often so that I can shoot during the middle of a hot, sunny day.


ursula said...

I think this picture beautifully illustrates the difference between making a multi-exposure with a series of slightly out of register pictures vs. making a camera movement picture. This one here has the colour streaks typical of movement/long exposures, without having any areas of clear definition (clear lines in particular).

I like this picture better than the one above, not because of the orientation, but because I think the type of camera movement here suits the plant better than the one used above.

AJAger said...

To me, this really looks like an impressionistic painting. Nice job.