“Hold it!”

How do you get a courtyard full of people to hold still for a thirteen-second exposure? Answer below.

I’ll be busy shooting at the Ojai Film Festival for the next few days, blogging as the opportunity arises. Mostly I’ll be shooting workshops, parties, and awards events, but I also wanted to capture what the film festival is really about: people enjoying great movies!

Tonight was the free outdoor screening, sponsored by the Ojai Valley Community Bank. So, how do you get a courtyard full of people to hold very still for a THIRTEEN-SECOND EXPOSURE? You show a compelling film, of course. Tonight’s treat was The Secret of Kells, an animated feature. I wish I had captured more of the projector light from the back, but you can’t have everything, eh?

The audience is lit entirely by reflections from the screen. I set the camera on a very sturdy tripod, used matrix metering and Aperture priority at f5.6, and let the camera choose the shutter duration. I did dial in negative one stop of exposure compensation, because I wanted to show we were in a dark environment. It only took about ten exposures to get one I liked. I rarely shoot with a tripod, and this might be the first multi-second exposure I’ve done since high school, but it was a fun challenge and I’m happy with the result. Can’t ask for much more than that!

EDIT: Here’s a version of the image above with the brightness dialed down a bit, per Mike’s suggestion in the comments:

I suppose I could dodge and burn this into a more compelling image, but remember, I write this blog for lazy, disorganized, impatient photographers, so I never put in any effort I wouldn't ask of my audience!

2nd Edit: And here’s one with the distracting reflections removed from the background:


Filed under Lighting

2 responses to ““Hold it!”

  1. Any shots with less exposure? Perhaps you can drop out some of the brightness to make it appear as a bit more intimate of a venue? The faces are key.

    Nice shot.

    • Yes, there are darker versions, including the original of this one. But I wanted to retain the environment for the Ojai Center for the Arts, where this took place. I’ll upload another version shortly…

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