Photographing things Your Eye Will Never See…

Pictures Can - And Do Lie

Although out first love here is Animals (Bart being an otter and all that...) there are some photographic techniques which are just too wonderful not to share with you. You can have so much fun experimenting with them, and then amaze your friends with your wonderful new talents.

The What And The Why

"[The] Shambles", York, England

This image is of one of the most photographed streets in the world - "[the] Shambles" in York - England. It is also telling lies. The Shambles is one of the most popular streets in York, and I have never seen it empty of people - which may surprise you because it was me who took the picture. What may also surprise you is that I didn't edit out any people from this picture with editing software - this is how the camera took the picture.

It is knowing what I know about this street which made me want to photograph it like this. The Shambles is a living, surviving piece of history - and it hasn't come straight our of a fairy tale. It was originally a street full of butchers shops, some of its buildings dating back to the 14th century (1300's), and many others dating to the 15th century (1400's). In it's time, the street was far from glamorous - you'd be more likely to see blood and offal than polish.

Elizabeth I c1575 - image in the public domain.

The street contains a shrine to St. Margaret Clitherow, the wife of a butcher. She was crushed to death for sheltering Catholic Priests during the reign of Elizabeth I - a horrific punishment. The priest hole that led to her death can still be seen at her old home - no. 10 the Shambles. It is a historic street - with stories to tell, and I wanted the viewer to be able to imagine the street as it once was - to see it raw, haunting, and quiet (in this instance with the juxtaposition of chocolate). It would be hard to do that with 21st century people wandering about it, turning the street into something it was never intended to be - a tourist haven. Not that I have any problem with tourists - I've been one many times myself and reveled in it. I just didn't want this image to be that. I wanted the street to speak for itself. I couldn't turn back the clock, but I could remove the 21st century bustle. To do this, I made my camera lie.

The How

Photographers have many techniques to assist them, and if you really understand how to use them, they can pay you dividends. The technique I used in this shot was the long exposure - often used to blur motion, but used here to eliminate it entirely.

What you would have seen if you happened upon me while I was taking that photograph was probably not very much. You'd have seen me, of course; my camera mounted upon a tripod; people walking by oblivious to me; people walking by feeling guilty and ducking (but still being within the lenses range); a man in Victorian dress walking by leading a "ghost tour"; people stopping and asking me about what I was doing with genuine interest. What you wouldn't have seen was that my camera's shutter was open throughout the whole duration - capturing all, and nothing. It captured all of the image which remained static through the length of the exposure, and nothing of the people who were moving through the picture. The reason the moving people didn't appear on the final image was that they - in the context of the length of the exposure - were not in any one place long enough to register on that exposure.

So there you have it. Photographers do cheat sometimes, but you'd never have seen it happen. The settings I used for this shot were:

ISO 320
Aperture F18
Shutter Speed 30 Seconds
​Focal Length 15mm

Did this post spark your interest? Is there anything you'd like to know in a future post? If so feel free to place a comment below. We read all comments - your questions may even inspire a full post - just watch this space...

Check Out Some Great Stabalisation Gadgets

There's Lots of Options

From a little beanbag​

to a full size tripod​

and then...

how do you stop the shutter release button itself shaking that camera?​

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