Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ghosts: Happy Photographic Accidents

My photography tends to be on the tightly constrained, control freak end of the spectrum.  However, there are times I  just to shoot to see what happens.  In this case, I was at the Chinese New Year celebration at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City.  Some small child apparently found a light switch and the lights went out in the middle of a dance performance.

The professional dance troupe continued as if they weren't performing in the dark.  And I just let the camera run on some 2.5 and 5 second handheld exposures.  Combined with random flashes from other audience members, I ended up with the ghosts seen below.

 This is the kind of happy accident that has kept me in love with photography for 25 years.  I must constantly remind myself that risk equals reward.  I am not much of a portrait photographer, but street and candid shooting is especially enjoyable as I never know what will appear in front of my watchful lens.

These photos were taken with a Sony NEX 3 combined with a 1963 vintage Olympus PEN 5 38mm f1.8 manual focus lens.  There is little chance of getting auto focus to work in the dark, so this worked out well.

More information on this combination is way back towards the beginning of this blog at
A Tale of Two Cameras

Why the NEX 3 instead of a DSLR?  There are times it is advantageous to not have a big, black camera up to my face in a crowd.  Most people don't realize that a small camera is capable of the same quality level as the DSLR and are less intimidated by its presence.  The downside is that I don't have the same quick access to exposure control (which I use constantly) or precision focus point selection.

My weapon of choice for street shooting is a Canon 60D with either the 50mm F1.4 or 85mm f1.8.  The lenses are phenomenal and I enjoy the challenge of framing images in a fixed focal length.  It keeps me aware of my surroundings.  I miss some images in not having a zoom at work, but in the long run, the image quality and the challenge are what keep me shooting.

You can find more of my people photos at
And lots more photos of people are peppered through my Fotki files.  One of my favorite sets is from the Zombie Walk for Hunger.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice! Sometimes experimentation presents the best results.


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