I headed out last night to see if I could capture the look and feel of Coconut Grove after dark with my camera. To me, it’s all about action, light and intense contrast. So instead of trying to freeze motion, as you normally do in photos in order to get a sharp result, I set out to emphasize the feeling of movement through purposely blurring some parts of the image.
In downtown Coconut Grove, the streets are always crowded with people at night, so I felt quite comfortable walking around by myself. Since I was carrying a tripod to steady the camera during the long exposures I had to use, I figured I could use it as a weapon if necessary. 🙂
I set myself up at a busy intersection and started experimenting with shutter speeds. I managed to get some decent light trails, which complemented the neon lighting on the restaurant. The photo above used a three-second exposure.
Then I decided to try blurring people strolling along Cocowalk while keeping the rest of the photo in focus. So I moved my camera setup, figured out the best aperture and starting firing off shots at different shutter speeds — some of people coming towards me and some of people walking away. When they saw me, many seemed concerned they were getting in the way of my photo of Cocowalk…little did they know that they were my subjects too!
It took me a while to pin down the exposure that would give me the effect I was looking for. Too long and the people were too blurry and unrecognizable. The shutter speed used in the photo below was 1/6 of a second.
I might have preferred the subjects here to be a wee bit more blurry, but overall it was my favorite shot because it seemed to tell a little story. I like the contrast between the young women who are moving and blurred and the skateboarder who is still and in focus, and who seems to be watching them with some degree of appreciation.