Long dark night…0
neil posted in Travel on May 30th, 2010
Working with big glass in low light requires patience, planning and preparation. For Beltane all of my vantagepoints were carefully scoped out in advance and the timings carefully worked out. It takes several minutes to build the tripod, attach and balance the lens and ballhead and couple and focus the camera. Once rigged onto the tripod the lens and camera cannot be touched, to do so induces too much vibration. Hugh had leant me a cable release, which proved invaluable. Focus was done manually and the lens left to settle (vibrations are pretty obvious on x10 magnification in live view) before the shutter could be released.
This may be the first time that the image on the camera was both bigger and brighter than could be seen with the naked eye. It was almost a shame to trip the shutter and lose the view while the camera made an image.
Photo of me by Richard Milnes Link
This being my second outing as BFS’ long range photographer I was getting used to hanging out on top of buildings behind a huge lens. However I was also tasked to cover Fire-Point who were performing on the reverse slope of the hill. This involved crossing a hundred meters of crowd to my shooting position. Before I could even start working through the crowd I had to descend from the acropolis. I had to jump down from the acropolis with the 400mm strapped across my back and both cameras sat on the wall with straps dangling. After some hair raising tip-toe recovery efforts I was off through the crowds. The plan was to use my 70-200mm and 24mm to cover the point while staying out of the way of the red men. At a predesignated point in the performance a torrent of reds would be unleashed straight down the wet grassy slope towards the procession. Anything getting in the way stood to be damaged and violated. Pretty soon I realised the 24mm was useless as it was’nt safe to get close and use it properly so I remounted the 400mm on my 1D.
It seems if you give a 1D a sliver of light it will focus anything you put in front of it. Whenever the performance seemed especially well lit, I put the 70-200mm down and snatched up the 400mm lying at my feet. I would focus the lens on a performer and hold the button down until the frame rate dropped. Once the 1D’s buffer was full I would pick up the 70-200mm and 5D and get back to more considered image-making. The IS system meant that suprising number of sharp images were recorded. The below was shot at 1/80th of a second!
The size of the lens with its hood attached gave the crowd behind me a start, including the chap who had to ask: “Is that lens real?” I resisted the temptation to tell him it was “all natural”.