The Last Word by Tony Sweet
With the advent of Adobe Photoshop, it’s almost a given that
nearly every shot is somehow manipulated. Then again, image
manipulations were formerly done in the darkroom. For example,
if an image had a perspective problem, the photographer
would lift the easel during the process to correct it, similar to
using the perspective crop in Photoshop. Photo manipulation
is not restriced to the domain of the digital age—far from it. By
the same token, I love presenting my work using a slide projector
and transparencies, which erases all doubt that an image was
not manipulated with software. I guess the point to all of this is
that one does not need to use a computer and software to create
unusual or impressionistic effects.
The image here was shot on Velvia ISO 50 in bright sun with a
Nikon F6 and 300mm f/4 Nikkor lens. I could just as easily have
shot the image with the D2X, but I chose to use film because of
its high contrast and wide dynamic range.
When pre-visualizing the image, I knew I wanted to achieve
a twirling effect while keeping the center of the image relatively
sharp. The bright sun and black pond at the National Arboretum
in Washington, D.C. would provide a nice contrast. Notice
how the colors pop with the black background. While leaving
the camera on the tripod, eight exposures were calculated by
shooting on matrix metering and aperture priority and setting
the exposure compensation to –3. The image was made on
one piece of film while twisting the camera in the lens tripod
collar in very small increments for nine exposures. Although
the matrix and –3 compensation is proper metering for eight
exposures, I shoot one more (nine) for a little more luminosity.
The center of the flower is the point of autofocus and appears
to have sharpness, despite the many overlapping exposures,
and was placed at the center/bottom part of the frame for
visual weight. Of course, the center is not sharp, but since the
multiple petal images create a “fan” appearance, the center appears
sharp relative to the rest of the image. Also, because of
the high contrast of the scene, the water appears black, rather
than the dark brown that it really was, and accentuates the
pastel tonality of the water lily.
As I travel down the digital highway, I still carry my Nikon
F6 for very specific scenes, such as this one, that I’ve learned
through experience render better on film.