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One year with Sony Alpha cameras and ZEISS E-mount lenses. Developing my own photographic eye in a in a scratch book manner. Hunting the stream of inspiration and sharing it through a popular blog platform.
This is what 'Days of Zeiss' is all about.




Science of swinging

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/8, 1/1600sec, ISO800, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/8, 1/1600sec, ISO800, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Many of our summer activities are connected to playgrounds as the children are at that age where playgrounds still provide activities. One thing Aura loves to do is, of course, swinging, and in today's picture she is swinging with her friend Linnea (at the front). If you have children of your own and they like to swing, you certainly know how unbelievable hard it is to photograph a swinging child. First of all, the swing itself is often challenging to approach with camera because of its physical shape. No matter what angle you take, it often produces certain kind of leading lines which are distracting one way or another. Which looks, at first, a simple shape, turns out to be something very different as it seems to ruin any compositional approach what photographer can come up with. And if you solve this compositional mystery somehow with luck, there's of course the swinging movement which makes any further approaches downright impossible as the subject keeps on moving back and forth, and effectively changes the composition all the time. On top of this the back and forth swinging also introduces technical problems as it is not given at all that the camera's autofocus can track it and deliver sharp pictures even if you manage to solve those earlier problems. Like I said, it's surprisingly difficult subject to photograph which has surely bemused me.

But here's one way to solve this which includes the use of Batis 2/25 electronic depth of field scale (though this method can be reproduced with any lens that has some sort of depth of field scale). To get rid of compositional problems I wanted to get real close to Aura and Linnea with this picture, and effectively cut out the distracting structures of the swing it itself. I also wanted to use zone focusing for this picture, because that way I could forget focus locks, points, trackings and all that AF-stuff, and concentrate on a situation itself. So I switched to manual focus mode, chose aperture of f/8 and put the sensitivity to 800 to be able to freeze the moment with high shutter speed (1/1600 sec in this case). Then I used the Batis oled-display to set my focus point to 1,0 meter, which gave me 46cm deep depth of field. Using the electronic depth of field display and its digits it is very to dial in relatively precise depth of field. Then knowing that my focus point was at 1.0 meter and depth of field approximately 23 cm front and back of that point, I just pointed the girls when they came up within that distance and shot with rapid fire to capture as much as I could. Going up close with this method is ridiculously easy as I could, at the same time, play with the girls and still get nicely focused shots. In the matter of fact, I made them laugh by playing that I couldn't look their swinging as they were swinging so wildly (not really). Within this play I covered my eyes with the other hand as I shot short rapid burst with the other – something I couldn't have done if I had worked with autofocus. Zone focusing is, in the case of swinging, much more effective method than any autofocus could ever be, and it reminds, at least me, that not everything is something that needs to be solved by 'better technology'. Very happy with this picture as it seems to catch the spirit of the moment so nicely. Here's also another picture taken with same method (but from another day).

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/8, 1/800sec, ISO800, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/8, 1/800sec, ISO800, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen