Friday, June 13, 2008

The wind that shakes the barley

click photo to enlarge
What are the most frequently photographed subjects. Well, if we're considering the average snapper, then it's probably babies and children, closely followed by holiday views. Amateur photographers have a fascination with sunsets, though people are also popular, as are landscapes. Birds and insects have gone from niche genres to mainstream, and some men (it's always men!) seem to photograph nothing but cars or motorcycles. All of these are perfectly reasonable subjects for the camera, and it's possible to take a perfectly good (or great) shot of each.

There is, however, a subject that attracts the casual snapper and the amateur in equal measure, and which is quite difficult to photograph well. I refer to running water! Many are seduced by the twinkle of light on a moving stream and try to capture it in a still image. They never do. Some place a neutral density filter over the lens and blur the water, making it look like fog flowing along. It creates an odd effect that some like. But the fact is, that what people see and like about flowing water just can't be captured on still photographs. To do the subject justice requires video.

A field of barley is another subject that also needs moving images to show the shimmering beauty of eddies of wind as they move across its silky green surface. However, that didn't stop me trying to get something of that flickering quality recorded on my camera sensor! In the absence of neutral density filters, on a dull day I selected a small aperture and low ISO, and photographed the barley as the strong wind whipped the seed heads back and forth. It took several shots to get something I liked. Does it capture that ethereal quality? Of course not. But it suggests it, and I'll make do with that!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (44mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f22
Shutter Speed: 1/5
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: +1 EV
Image Stabilisation: On