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Formula One - Rush; traditional aspects; tilt and shift plus being creative

In 1976 James Hunt won the Formula One world championship for McLaren. This was reminded to me whilst watching the brilliant film 'Rush', directed by Ron Howard, (aka Richie Cunningham from Happy days for those of a certain age). The film tells of the rivalry and respect between Hunt and his rival Niki Lauda from an era when F1 and photography were far removed from the present. The film's excellent cinematography is projected with a tonal quality reminiscent of early colour film ie the colours are there, but not very natural. The effect in the film, together with the heightened visual subject awareness created by judicious use of vignetting is superb. The film highlights that the use of traditional photographic techniques still holds value today.

The picture above was taken in Venice a couple of years ago. The man started off with a bunch of flowers which, over the course of the couple's discussions, ended up in the Grande Canale! Nevertheless, the postures allowed me plenty of time to adjust angles, and capture the shot. It was taken with a Nikon 24mm tilt shift lens with negative tilt of about 3 degrees to minimise focus. As you should be able to see, focus is held only on the girls face. These tilt shift lenses go some way to replicate the effects able to be obtained from traditional field view cameras, where camera and lens movements are independent in any direction to affect focus - positively and negatively.

Tilt shift lenses usually only allow movements in two planes, one at a time, plus some shift which is height or width adjustment. View cameras with bellows can provide immense control such that the camera may be tilted down and angled to the right for example whilst the lens can be tilted up and to the left at the same time! This may be getting too technical already for some, but the effect of all this is total focus control of the planes and wedges of focus to create images you want.

I read in Amateur Photographer this week about 'Freelensing'. The technique is again emulating traditional effects. Like the view camera movements described above, the image can be exposed whilst having the lens at a totally different angle and plane to the camera body. It is a craze that is expanding to enable creativity from the photographer.

However, with freelensing the camera is NOT attached to the body of the camera but held a small distance away with your hand! Factors like image circle diameters of the lens; difficulty of focus; exposure evaluation and of course dust on the sensor are factors of note using this technique, but nevertheless it is cheaper than buying a tilt shift lens, LensBaby or film view camera kit.

All these techniques, portrayals, and effects are nothing new. They have been around for ages and in some cases were the only way one took photographs; however they all have one thing in common: They are all being used by the photographer to show creativity; to allow them to express one's own photographic creativity; to be different and make a mark.

We are all guilty at some time of taking a record shot, or one following the latest fad, but I would suggest that your images may stand out from the crowd by thinking outside the box and being creative. If that means taking processes from a time past and evolving them into the modern world then so be it, but do be creative.