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The Elegance Network: Browsing Aria: Kidnapped Struggles
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Aria Wednesday
Aria: Kidnapped Struggles

This is the second of our two sets this month playing around with photographic technique. A long time ago, when I was still a University lecturer, I was having a chat with colleagues about my photos. One of them pointed out something which I've been vaguely aware of ever since- that my photos are quite static.

There are various techniques I've played with over the years to try to inject more motion and dynamism into some shots, but I'd never really tried "dragging the shutter" - letting the shutter stay open for a long exposure, while freezing the motion with a quick blast of flash. Armed with a new camera it seemed like the thing to give it a go. So I asked Aria to be a business lady who is being spied up then kidnapped, and asked her to do really good energetic struggling.

In my normal photo style, energetic struggling just leads to a little bit of unsharpness in the girl's moving body because the flash is short enough to almost freeze the action. It just looks like I cocked up focus or had some camera shake, rather than injecting any feel of motion into the shot. So I knew I had to open the shutter, turn up the ambient lights, turn down the flash and open up the aperture so we got some of the struggles recorded as "misty glow" as Aria kicked and bucked around on the bed.

As usual when I'm indulging myself with an experiment, I tried to get a full set's worth of "normal" shots too, so if the effect isn't to your taste you'll hopefully still find plenty of pleasing shots of the very gorgeous Aria hogtied and gagged :-)

And again as usual when experimenting, there are quite a few similar shots in the struggling sequences as I was trying to tune my technique as I went along. Did it work? See what you think, but my thoughts are that it does give a nice look to the photos, and it sometimes manages to convey some sense of movement, but that overall it gives a warmer and dreamier look to the shots, which isn't what I was expecting but which looks really lovely on the best shots. It's a bit hit and miss.

So what should I try if I want to go more for the motion effect I was after originally? My first guess is to try matching the position of the flash lighting with some LED panels, rather than relying on the house lights (which are warmer in tone, quite dim, and in quite different positions from where I had the softboxes). I think that would give more of a continuity of feeling between the flash frozen image and the rest of the motion. I'll experiment with turning image stabiization on and off on the camera. On creates "steps" in the image, where the camera has locked on, whereas off should produce more continuous but less recognisable movement. The main thing is probably to turn the intensity of the house lights up so that the motion trails are more distinct, which will let me play with the shutter speed to see what gives the best effect, too. (As it was set up I basically had to set the shutter speed just to get some sort of exposure in the motion at all- it may be that a longer or shorter shutter will work better if there's more ambient light).

All in all it was a great fun set to shoot, and many thanks to Aria and Ariel for their patience while I messed around- and especially to Aria for really giving it some energy with the struggles! It's not the sort of effect I'd be tempted to use for whole sets, but I would like to persevere and see if I can fine tune the technique to produce really dramatic struggling shots. Watch this space!

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