Wonder of Wonders… Emotionally Charged Slow Water Images with the E-M5!
Etymology of the word ‘photography’:
From the Greek words phos (“light”), and graphis (“stylus”, “paintbrush”) or graphí, together meaning “drawing or painting with light” – allwords.com
Painting with light… Really this is just the perfect description of what I do with my photography! I rarely take snap shots. I will walk up to a subject and study it, allow it to wash over me and evaluate its emotional impact upon my sense of self, then I will take my my camera and use it as the tool of creation and force it to capture the scene as I visualize it!
Such was the case during my last workshop where Jamie Davidson and I took a group of students deep into the New River Gorge in West Virginal to photograph Grist Mills, Water Falls and Vistas. Usually I used my Fuji X Pro 1 (my main creative tool) but at one location I was forced to use a longer lens in order to overcome intense, harsh mid day lighting on a small set of water falls. So I choose to try my new Olympus OMD E-M5 camera system with the Panasonic 14-140mm f/4 – 5.8 lens and a 10 stop B+W ND filter (110) and of course on the tripod.
These waterfalls images were very difficult to capture in the fashion that I visualized them in my mind. I was looking for dark, forbidding images of the water and dark rocks surrounding it with a little highlight detail on either side on the rocks. I ended up spot metering on the water then placing its exposure into Zone 7 on the 10 zone scale (yes I DO use the Zone system for exposure as you should! This will be the subject of a future post!). After setting the proper exposure for the Zone 7 water and very dark rocks I then used a 900 lumen tactical LED flashlight to light paint the rocks around the water to bring out some slight detail there. The exposures were long, 3.5 seconds for one and 1/5 second for the larger falls. The longer exposures allowed me to repeatably repaint the rocks with the very, very bright tactical light. Take a look at the results below and decide if the effort was worth it or not!
As you can see in this first image, I have created an etherial image with slight edge detail which was generated by the small high power tactical flashlight. The image worked much better in B&W so I did not really work at the color version of it at all. My intention was to create a dark moody image that would wash over me emotionally…
This second image in color was my 2nd attempt on a different location at the same series of falls. I really like this one in color. The exposure time was much shorter due to an increased amount of ambient light falling on the water and I did not have enough time to paint both sides of the falls with the light. Still, all in all the image is quite pleasing and the colors brought out during the long exposure are quite stunning.
This last image I chose to process in B&W with a little darkening of the image corners to make it slightly more moody. I think that I like the Color image a bit more than the B&W version. What do you think?
All in all, I have to say that I am very impressed with the functionality of the OMD camera body. It worked perfectly for these difficult images and allowed me to capture the images as I envisioned them in my mind and that is the best that one can hope for when you are out in the world creating art… I will also admit that if I had a longer lens for my Fuji X Pro 1 at the time that I would have used it instead, but at the time the Fuji 60mm macro was the longest I had. I have since purchased the CV 75mm f/1.8 for the Fuji!
Now, as to the tactical light, Surfire makes lights for the police and military but will sell to you directly or at Amazon or even in a local gun store. They are used in 2 ways, mounted on the weapon or hand held and are used during a gunfight to see the target and half blind them. They can be VERY powerful and VERY costly. Being LED, they will not burn out. All of them have multiple output powers and the one I used here had 2, 20 lumens and 900 lumens. You must be very careful with the high power mode as you can damage peoples eyes with it but being so bright, you can use it during a bright sunny day. These lights use lithium batteries and they will last about 30 hours on low power and 2 hours on high power. I keep this light in my camera kit at all times as you never know when you will need to add some detail light on a scene!