Long exposure zoom experiment

Yesterday evening I visited a local park where there was held an exhibition called "Winter Lights". Throughout the whole park several installations of colorful light and illuminated objects were presented. Together with a friend we grabbed our cameras and tripods and went to that park. It was amazing.

20mm  f/8  5sec  ISO200  -1EV
One of the installations was a group of trees illuminated from bottom up with colorful lights. Next to the trees was a statue with a huge face which was highlighted as well. What a beautiful scene. I took some photos of this group and had to adjust exposure values several times. The strong and bright light is a heavy contrast to quite dark background. In the end I think I got a nice balance of light and darkness. Some parts are still underexposed and completely dark while the face and parts of trees are a bit overexposed. But the result came out quite nice. I like it.

While taking the photos I suddenly remembered some articles I read on several blogs during last month dealing with long exposure photography and special effects. One of these techniques was to change focal length during exposure. This will produce beautiful rays pointing out the zoom and directing your view to the center. I practiced this technique never before and thought these trees are an ideal scene to try it. So I placed my tripod at a location where the scene is framed well at lowest focal length of my lens. In the photo shown below I started at 18mm. Shutter speed was 8 seconds. After releasing I waited 3 seconds. Then I zoomed in to full 55mm at medium speed which took another 2 seconds. The further 3 seconds exposed the photo at this setting.

18mm->55mm  f/8  8sec  ISO200  -1EV

The result is absolutely awesome. Most trees occur twice now and they are connected by a semitransparent curtain in the color they are illuminated with. Some trees were outside frame after zooming and their colorful rays are leaving the scene. You get an impression of flying through a colorful forest at high speed. I love it, the colors, the rays and the overall scene.

I tried out different ways of zooming during my experiment. I zoomed in and out, more or less far, at faster or slower speed. The photo shown below is kind of opposite to the one above. This time I zoomed out by lowering focal length. I started at 24mm and during exposure I slowly changed focal length down to 18mm. This time nothing is leaving the frame. The rays are much shorter. I like it, too, but it is not that impressive and intense as the one above.

24mm->18mm  f/8  8sec  ISO200  -1EV

I hope I do remember this technique in future night shots. I'm very satisfied with my first experiences, but there is of course much room for improvement. In late April our bi-annual light exhibition called "Luminale" is held again in town. I'm very looking forward taking beautiful night and light shots again, like two years ago.

Some of the technical details of these photos I've already mentioned. I used my EOS 600D camera and my EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Camera was mounted on a tripod of course. To get a nice depth of field I switched into Av mode and selected an aperture value of f/8. ISO was at fixed 200 to reduce image noise. Shutter speed was calculated automatically. To prevent from over or underexposed photos I adjusted exposure correction (EV). For reducing camera shakes I used the 2 seconds timer auto release.


Unknown said…
I just came across this image on the digital photography web page and had to visit blog after seeing it. I love it! Really gives me an alien or supernatural feeling. I now really want to play with this technique thanks for the inspiration!