Earlier this week, an e-mail popped into my inbox. It said:
Hello, my name is Ashleigh and I am 16 years old. I have recently started my A-Level Photography course and have been inspired by your photos of fairground rides which i found on google images! I then took a look at your website and wanted to contact you to explain how beautiful i think your pictures are. The name of my project is movement in light therefore i would love to take pictures of fairground rides and fireworks etc. My questions are, what camera and what shutter speed did you use when taking the photos of the spinning wheels and dodgem cars?
Ashleigh pointed out her two favorite images, so here’s to you, Ashley!
This first image is actually a composite of three photographs, shown below.
I shot all three images with a Canon EOS 5D digital SLR camera and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 105mm and sitting on a Manfrotto tripod. I shot the first image at ISO 100, f/8.0 and 0.6 seconds. As you can see, despite the >1/2 second shutter speed, the ride was moving too fast for me to catch a streak along more than a small part of the circular track. So in the second shot, I slowed my shutter speed to 3.2 seconds at 100 ISO. This required a corresponding change in aperture, which I closed down to f/18. This produced a longer streak. At the same time, I wanted to see people as people, and not simply as abstract streaks through the dusk sky. To do this, I had to speed up my shutter speed exponentially. So the third shot was at 1/30 seconds. In order to achieve the same exposure as with the other frames at such a comparatively fast shutter speed, I had to open up wide to f/4.0 and bump my ISO up to 1600.
None of the three images by themselves completed my vision, which was to have a hint of people streaking through mid-air. So I took the three images into Photoshop, layered them with layer masks, and painted in and out of each image to achieve the final composite below.
The second image that Ashley picked out is one of my favorites as well. I call it “Freak Out.” This one wasn’t nearly as complex as the first. I shot it with the same camera-lens combination at ISO 100, f/13, and 6.0 seconds in order to get the carnival ride along its full length of movement. I also zoomed in to 45mm in order to fill the frame for maximum oomph!