Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Speed Bump Deconstruction

Speed Bump
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.
Of all the images that I've written deconstructions on you might not think that a shot of a snail deserves its own writeup -not like it's going anywhere anytime soon right? Well there's actually a lot more going on in this shot than you might notice at first, and there are a few tricks and tips that are worth mentioning.

This is a field studio image, completely manipulated, and there is only one element that was captured by chance...

I've been seeing a lot of these snails the last few months and they're tiny -most no more than a centimeter in diameter. The plant that it's on has some large leaves that are easy to grip without ripping, and in this shot I'm holding onto the leaf and using my fingers to create the "speed bump". Pretty much a standard Left Hand Brace shot as far as keeping the camera steady goes.

The tricky part when shooting snails, damselflies, or any creature that has eyes on a stalk is getting those peepers and the main body of the critter in focus. Although it looks like I'm shooting the snail almost side on I'm really getting it head first because it started to turn. I'm holding the camera so that the top of the frame is deeper into the scene than the bottom, and that's why so much of the leaf and the snail are in focus. I'm also using my hand to turn the leaf down to get it as parallel to the plane of acceptable focus as possible. The end effect is a "magic angle" between the camera and the scene that creates the illusion that there is a lot of depth when there really isn't. I've simply shortened the front to back distance between the top of the snail's shell to the bottom of the leaf, and then angled the camera to take advantage of it. Do it often enough and it just becomes second nature.

Last, but not least, I got lucky: The snail looked right at the bump I had created in the leaf :)
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