Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It Was All A Blur...

We've been traveling for 8 months now and almost every single day, we take our cameras out with us and photograph our journey along the way.

Back home, I'm not one who totes around a small digicam in my handbag. So this is the longest time that I've had a camera stuck on me almost 24/7. (Who knows, I might just get addicted to having a camera on hand, even when I revert to my real life and clockwork routine *yawn*) Many times a day, I find myself assessing the environment and wondering whether to whip out the camera (which is in reality, a rather cumbersome combination of neck straps, bag straps, clips and zips) to snap a photo.

The natural scenery that we come across on our trip is simply awe-inspiring and magical - it really doesn't take much to capture the beauty of a place. We try to do more than just snap a conventional photo, which really doesn't convey more than "been there, done that". We explore new angles, toggle with shutter speeds, tweak exposure settings. But fatigue and boredom do set in. I get bored with the photos I take when they start looking the same - same style, same angle, same textures, same feel. Sometimes, I literally cannot tell the difference between one lake photo and another. It's the same with photos of mountains.

That's when you start losing inspiration, thinking "it's just another lake", "it's just a building", "it's just the city". Then you get lazy and find all sorts of excuses not make the effort to get a good photo. Too crowded. Too hot. Too troublesome. Too dangerous. Too rainy. Too dark. Too bright. Too tired. The sun is not in the right position. My camera sucks. My lens is too wide. My lens can't zoom so far. And so on.

And sometimes, in trying to get that perfect photo, we forget to have fun with the camera!

While in Ushuaia, Dan recalled taking a picture of a porcupine fish while diving in Lembeh (Indonesia) a couple of years ago. Trying desperately to focus on the puffer, which was merrily sailing past his eyes while the current was sweeping us forward, he trained his camera on the subject and snapped - while both man and fish were still moving. The result - a small wide-eyed ball of spikes looking as if it was high on Speed and blasting light years into space!

Our friend Sue Anne commented on Facebook: "Oh i like this! A little lone fish struggling to keep up in the mad rush hour...kinda like me in HK!"

With this thought in mind, we re-discovered our cameras - by thinking of them as new toys, rather than fragile digital machines. We didn't bother with getting the "correct" settings, or framing the subject spot-on, or calculating the perfect composition, or nailing that prized waterfall photo (which nobody looks at after a while anyway. Images are short-lived.) We didn't moan about needing more sophisticated cameras or new expensive equipment to get better photos. It didn't matter that the skies were drab and rainy.

And look what we came up with!

First experiment: twisting the camera as you press the shutter.

When used on a human subject, this technique creates a surreal time-warp effect, as if a person is stepping out from another world through a portal.

"My name is Purple Peter, from Mars they don't come sweeter, I've come to see what's going on on Earth."

To achieve the effect, you need to slow down the shutter speed. This can be done even on some good quality point-and-shoot cameras, like Dan's Canon SX200 IS.

Greetings from the future *deep bow* Take me to your leader

Trying to keep the image clear and sharp at a specific focal point, while the rest is a whirling blur, can be a bit more challenging. You have to hold the camera super steady. It's fun trying till you get it right though!

Still a little off focus. But good enough for William Tell to aim and spear that apple (and, gulp, me)

No humans were involved or shot in the following experiments:

Making a plant look like a windmill

Swirling some leaves around

Sometimes, I didn't even have a specific subject in mind. The results? Abstract art! And very nice art too, with lovely natural colours and soothing wispy textures. I would decorate my walls at home with it!

Forest colours take on a whimsical twist

Of course, you don't have to do the twist all the time. Instead of turning the whole camera, I tried shifting my zoom lens back and forth as I pressed the shutter. That simple move added a whole new dimension to the photo!

Taken while zooming out: Dan getting vacuumed out of this world and into another

Taken while zooming in: Dan being surrounded by a quivering energy field

When I tried it on moving streams and waterfalls, it made the water movements incredibly powerful and dynamic. Poweerrrrr up!

A small unimpressive waterfall is transformed into a powerful gushing terror


An ordinary pebble-filled stream now commands your attention

These are only a couple of fun techniques that we accidentally discovered while moving our cameras around while snapping a shot, instead of being so fixated all the time on keeping them still.

Intrigued and inspired to play around more with my camera, I surfed around and found a couple of websites with some tips on how to take creative photos. While some of them do require a special type of lens, or high-quality equipment, there's no harm trying out some of the methods and seeing what results we can get with the tools we have on hand.

After all, photography is meant to be fun and experimental. It doesn't have to be perfect.

3 comments:

Tracy Su said...

I do like that little puffer fish! The photo is very cool. The others are groovy too, but started to make me feel a bit 60s after a while!

Eliany said...

Yeah the one with Dan being transported between 2 worlds was cool too...

Yi Lin said...

Trace: The 60's? You're not that old! Or are you? :P I was wondering whether to put a warning that the post might cause some ppl to feel dizzy. Don't want ppl puking over their comp from looking at our photos!

Eliany: Heh, yeah, the unexpected results you can get just by twisting the camera. Haven't discovered any other simple fun tricks yet. If you know any, share!

MC: Welcome to our blog and thanks for your comments on a few of our past posts too. Thanks for the tip on the compact camera - we will try it out!

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