Goin’ Slow To Go Fast – Busch Gardens – Tampa, Florida

There are times that I get so focused on getting a “correct” photograph, that I forget that photography is supposed to be a creative outlet. I tell all of my students that the correct photograph is the one that you want, unless a client is paying you. I’m used to speeding up the camera to try and freeze action and not get any blurry shots. This is useful if this is what your goal is. However, there are times that you may want to slow down and smell the roses.

To show movement of a subject, I like to purposely slow the camera down. This is really important when photographing propeller driven aircraft. Freezing propellers in mid air make it look as if the aircraft is going to fall out of the sky. If jets are your main focus than you are going to have to crank up your shutter speed, but I digress…

My family went on a trip to Bush Gardens in Tampa, Florida last year. It was a hot summer afternoon and we found some shade next to a carousel. We got some waters and sat at a picnic table to cool off. While I was sitting there watching the carousel, it made me think of the small amusement park that we had in our home town of Elmira, New York. This carousel had every light bulb in place and there many young kids enjoying riding on the mechanical horses.

I took a few photos of the carousel and I was able to freeze the motion. As I looked at the photos, they didn’t do anything for me. They didn’t tell a story. Looking at the photos, it looked as if the carousel was stopped and letting people on and off. Why would a photographer take a photo of a stopped carousel? This is starting to smell like a stopped propeller.

After watching it for a minute with all of the kids screaming in joy, it hit me. Go slow to go fast. I wanted to drag the shutter to let the image smear across the sensor. I was going to have to contend with the harsh afternoon sun. I stepped up my aperture for f/22 to minimize the light coming in the lens. I also made my ISO 100 so my sensor wouldn’t be sensitive to light. Ok, two down, one to go. I experimented with different shutter speeds. I ended up using 1/4 of a second. This let the lights streak across without the over blurring the carousel. I wanted it blurry, but no so blurry you couldn’t tell what it was.

Here’s the thing, even though I wanted a blurry photo, I still wanted some of the parts to be in focus to help sell the effect. With a slow shutter speed, I was going to need a tripod. I was on a “va ca day” and I didn’t have a tripod, until I realized I was siting on a tripod. The picnic table was going to be my tripod. They had a fence around the carousel and I didn’t want to include that in the photo. I reached in my pocket and pulled out my wallet. I placed the wallet under the lens. This propped the camera up just enough. I composed the photo and set the self timer. I pressed the shutter button and hoped for the best. I looked at the back of the LCD and I was giggling like those little kids.

I have used this trick many times. If you ever go to Disney, they have a trash can every 27 feet (don’t ask how I know this). You paid your $100 to get in, put the trash can where YOU want it and set your camera’s self timer. I have gotten MANY great photos of Disney at night with this little trick.

Here’s my last piece of advice for today, to get “different” photos of a particular subject, you are going to have to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT to get the photograph. Yes, people may point and laugh (they do this to me anyway on a good day), but you will go home with the photo.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


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