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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Seven: Making time count > Folk Dancers, Jaroslavl, Russia, 2003
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Folk Dancers, Jaroslavl, Russia, 2003

A camera can deliberately blur action as well as freeze it. Motion can be implied by such blur. The degree of blur depends on how fast the subject is moving, as well as the shutter speed of the camera. I purposely blurred these spinning Russian folk dancers at 1/30th of a second. In situations where they were not spinning as rapidly, the same shutter speed was able to stop most of their movement.

Canon PowerShot G5
1/30s f/2.8 at 20.7mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis19-Jan-2008 04:52
I am glad to help you, Sofia. I hope this the first of many more comments. Glad, too, that you enjoy this image and that it makes you think of your own visit to this place.
Guest 11-Jan-2008 17:07
I've been to Yaroslavl in 2001. It's a nice quiet town with beautiful genuinely Russian views and churches. I like the image and the comment on how to make the image "spin" forever. Thank you for the helpful advice!
Phil Douglis25-Mar-2007 02:37
Thanks, Jet. I remember when you made your electronic painting of my image. It is always good to have you visit, and if you wish to use another one of my images in your art, I would be happy to help, as always.
Jet Liera24-Mar-2007 23:06
Hi Phil,
Just visiting old friends
I've always loved this picture
I'd like to thank you again for allowing me to do a digital version of it.
Thought leaving a link to the manipulated image would be in order
Thanks again.

Kind Regards
Phil Douglis23-Apr-2005 19:22
I wanted this picture to make you tired, Ruth. It explodes with such energy that limbs become invisible and dresses become almost liquified in appearance. The camera is a time machine, equally adept at either freezing a decisive moment forever or making it move as if it were alive!
ruthemily23-Apr-2005 13:51
these dancers buzz with so much energy it makes me tired just looking at the photo! a perfect example of how the expression of movement through motion blur can define the essence of an image.
Phil Douglis22-Mar-2004 20:21
You make a good point, Rob, about the integration of composition and timing. Insofar as this shot is concerned, I selected a low vantage point beforehand, putting my camera on the floor, in order to provide a foreground -- the wooden stage -- to lead the viewer's eye into the image. By selecting a wideangle focal length (24mm) held vertically, I was able "layer the shot" by relating the stage in the foreground to the dancers in the middleground and background. I knew in advance that any person in the middleground would be proportionally larger than the person in the background, to give a greater illusion of depth.

The rest was a matter of timing and chance -- I choose to shoot only from this position, and only when just two people were in the frame. My slow shutter speed and the dancer's activity did the rest.
inti22-Mar-2004 12:19
A terrific image. Remarkably good composition under the circumstances also. Very well captured Phil. Regards Rob
Phil Douglis08-Mar-2004 18:17
Thanks, Phyllis for your comment and your vote. Movement is the whole point of dancing, and blur a wonderful way to express movement. By blurring the subjects,I have abstracted the dancers, obscuring their identity, energizing the costume, and even making limbs vanish into thin air. The camera has both frozen and extended a moment in time for our pleasure.
Phyllis Stewart08-Mar-2004 05:15
Very effective use of blur. Terrific my vote!
Phil Douglis06-Mar-2004 06:21
Hi, Jet -- you are the first to remark on the lighting of this shot. That's the great advantage of shooting a stage performance. In most cases, the scene is already illuminated for you by professionals. In this shot, I use the lights themselves as context for the dancers -- they blaze with almost as much energy as the performers themselves. The light level also is bright enough to allow me to shoot at a slow shutter speed without flash (1/30th of a second) and thus extend this moment in time in a whirling blur.
Jet Liera06-Mar-2004 01:18
I love the lighting and rendering of this image

Phil Douglis05-Mar-2004 20:53
Thanks tony, for the kind words on my dancers. Motion is what dancing is all about, and besides it is a lot more fun for me to blur action than to stop it.

Anthony Bunting05-Mar-2004 20:28
Excellent image. Love the motion.
Phil Douglis28-Feb-2004 19:32
You can use this technique in bird photography as well, Anna. There is no law that says you can't use blur to express an idea about birds. Try a slow shutter speed on a bird in flight, and you can get a wonderful sense of flow and movement by blurring the wings.
Anna Yu28-Feb-2004 05:13
It's the opposite of bird photography, when you use as fast shutter speed as possible to get a sharp picture. Very nice!
Dan Chusid30-Dec-2003 21:48
Good presentation in capturing the movement in the dancers and something that budding photographers should do more of instead of relying on simple sharp object photography. Kudos to ya! - DC
Phil Douglis16-Oct-2003 21:02
Thanks, Carol -- this is my favorite shot in this gallery, too. (I picked it to represent my gallery about "time.") They were spinning so fast that their whirling arms are invisible at 1/30th of second! It is also interesting that you see the skirts as inverted tornadoes -- I never noticed that until now. (Sandgren strikes again!) I shot this scene at faster and slower shutter speeds, and 1/30th matched the speed of the dancers to create a perfect "flow!" of action.
Carol E Sandgren16-Oct-2003 01:09
This is my favorite of your images in this gallery. The movement is captured so well, and they must really be dancing fast. Their skirts remind me of upside down tornadoes!
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