One of my photos from Doors Open 2010 has an interesting story behind its conception, which started shortly after I took this photo at the Ontario Heritage Centre.
Take note of the “bass clef,” which is really an “S” or, if you will, two joined clefs. My idea was to take a photo where you’d be looking through the top curls of the clefs, resulting in quite a visual effect. However, due to the tight space between the railings, obtaining this shot would not be a cakewalk. I decided that I would at least rise to this challenge – even if it meant wasting time, effort, photos and battery power.
I began by removing the flash from my D60 and sliding the camera in its landscape orientation between the railings, holding it at its bottom-left corner with my left hand in order to stabilize it. For additional support, I held its right side with my right hand and put its uncovered hot shoe’s guides against the bottom of the top railing. Next, I attempted to optimally position the camera using my hands and my naked eye. I even tried to squeeze my head between the railings in order to improve this positioning by looking through the viewfinder. Unfortunately, this was a futile denial of an indisputable fact: my difficulty would be compounded by my camera’s lack of a live view function.
I took many photographs and used their results to assist me in achieving optimal composition, focus, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. At one point, I even switched to portrait orientation and restarted my process. After about fifty to sixty failed attempts, I finally came as close to my initial idea as I thought possible.
Considering the many hoops I jumped through, I think this is a pretty good photograph. (I took a similar picture in landscape orientation, but I eventually deleted it.)
A brief word about this photo’s shutter speed is in order. Without my tripod, I don’t usually use speeds slower than 1/60 (i.e. 1/60th of a second), although I’ve taken a few good photos at 1/40. You’d probably think that using slower speeds would automatically lead to unusable photos. However, thanks to the railings and my stabilizing setup, 1/15 ended up being just the speed that I needed to complete this task.