One of the feelings I like portray in my photos is the passage of time. This can be accomplished in many ways, but I like to do it by shooting long exposures. This photo of a Matsuri (festival in Japanese) taken in Uruma City Okinawa is a two second exposure, just long enough to turn moving people into ghosts, while people who are stationary, are more or less frozen. Photos like this are hard to get because the composition is always in flux. You can aim the camera, but people are going to stand where they stand and walk where they walk. It takes patience, but the payoff is big when it all comes together.
What I love about this kind of photo is how the juxtaposition of static and dynamic elements conveys an association among the frozen people, separating them from crowd. When you go to a festival with friends, you walk through a sea of other people, but you barely notice them. In a sense, they are only half there. That's the feeling I intended to evoke with this photograph. How did I do?
On the technical side, the key is not to overexpose your highlights. Of course, in digital photography, you're always exposing for the highlights, but the trick here is to find the exposure that prevents halos from forming around the lights, while capturing enough detail in the shadows that you can raise the levels in post without too much noise. Other than manipulating all the basic settings and taking some lens flare out of the sky, this is not a heavily processed image. The magical contrast between moving and static people did all the work for me.
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My simple blog about the art and science of photography.