Thursday, November 19, 2009


Listening to: Back to Basics - Billy Bragg.
It struck me looking at the A340 take-off photo sequence in my previous post how much latent processing power we have in our brains that we just take for granted to the point of not even noticing it without making a concious effort.

The full sequence (starting with the turn onto the runway) as shot contains 23 images covering a total timespan of 54 seconds. For each one, in addition to keeping the subject centred I was checking the focus several times a second, watching the background for interesting compositions (like the RNZAF Boeing 757 parked up in the shot above, which was an image I planned beforehand. The A340 isn't quite in the right place, so the shot doesn't quite work), zooming in and out for framing, and looking for anticipated moments like the wheels breaking ground or a gust of wind rocking the aircraft that make for a more interesting picture.

Some of the zoom changes were quite radical, like going from full zoom to minimum zoom in less than a second for these two shots:

In addition to all that I was conciously working physically to keep the camera steady (at full zoom my DSLR and lens is close to a foot and a half long, and catches a lot of wind, not to mention my upper body being buffeted by the breeze as well), standing on a reasonable slope without falling over, and pivoting around my waist to keep the aircraft in view, mentally noting that the aircraft was quieter and the takeoff roll shorter than I expected, that the gold colouring would have looked great in full sunlight, and thankful that I had a nice skyscape as a background.

And we use our brains like this pretty much all the time without thinking about it. Impressive (when you think about it).

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