Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Zooms, not blooms

with 34 comments

A few other photographers I’m familiar with have recently shown pictures created with intentional camera movement, which often means sliding or swiveling the camera from side to side while the shutter is open. In this post’s pictures I took a different approach, holding the camera body as still as I could while zooming the lens during the time the shutter stayed open. In the first picture I zoomed my 24–105mm lens during a one-second exposure. The vine climbing the rough-barked tree trunk was poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), which caught my attention because the summer drought had turned some of its leaves red.

On the morning of August 19th while it was still dark I went back to the fountain you saw here recently, hoping to get some warm colors in the water at sunrise. Eventually the sun came up but the water never did—at least not by 7:10, when I left to do more-conventional portraits because it was already light out. The visit wasn’t in vain, though, because while I was hanging around waiting I experimented with some more zooms. The next picture, in which I zoomed my 100–400mm lens for two seconds, strikes me as intriguingly mysterious and abstract.

I also looked in the opposite direction from the pond, at the power lines and poles across the road,
which I portrayed in a three-second exposure that conveniently caught the layered colors of dawn:

And here are not one, not two, not three, but four similar and timely quotations from the founding era of the American republic:

“… Nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.” — Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 1, published October 27, 1787.

“The common and continual mischief’s [sic] of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion.” — George Washington in his farewell address delivered to Congress on September 19, 1796.

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” — John Adams in a letter to Jonathan Jackson on October 2, 1780.

“If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would rather not go at all.” — Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Francis Hopkinson on March 13, 1789.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 1, 2020 at 4:43 AM

34 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Some very interesting experiments!

    Robert Parker

    September 1, 2020 at 6:57 AM

    • Agreed. Experiments become experience (both words go back to Latin experīrī, which meant ‘to try’).

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2020 at 7:08 AM

  2. As someone said to me after I posted my monochrome tree duck, “We try things.” I’d say these attempts were well worth the effort. I’m especially taken with the second. I see a narrow, rowed boat — perhaps a gondola — emerging from the light, bearing some of that light into the watery darkness.


    September 1, 2020 at 7:06 AM

    • The someone who said “We try things” on August 26th was only a week out from the experiments at the pond, and therefore primed to say what he did. Yes, I see your gondola, which could also be a swan of light. Long-exposure zooms are unpredictable; part of the fun is waiting to see the things that appear unbidden in the pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2020 at 7:16 AM

      • My swan, by the way, would be gliding into the light, rather than coming out of it like your gondola.

        Steve Schwartzman

        September 1, 2020 at 7:19 AM

  3. Using the zoom in a long exposure is a technique that I have not heard before. Your interesting results inspired me to try it on my next photoshoot.

    Peter Klopp

    September 1, 2020 at 9:10 AM

  4. Keep the quotes coming.


    September 1, 2020 at 9:40 AM

    • My father was a quotation maven. A few of the ones I’ve posted came from quotation books he had that I inherited.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2020 at 2:39 PM

  5. I really like these. Movement and color–I’m glad you try things and share with us.


    September 1, 2020 at 5:29 PM

    • Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed these. “Movement and color” is a good way to put it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2020 at 6:39 PM

  6. That first image is my favorite! It’s mesmerizing!


    September 1, 2020 at 8:48 PM

  7. Excellent ICM, my friend… zoom ICM must be quite hard to do!

    marina kanavaki

    September 2, 2020 at 7:48 AM

    • Actually it’s pretty easy. The results, however, are unpredictable and vary a lot, so when I use that technique I typically take a bunch of pictures in hopes that I’ll like a few of the results.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2020 at 7:52 AM

  8. I like the painterly feel of these. 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    September 2, 2020 at 2:31 PM

    • I suspect it’s the lack of the usual photographic clarity and detail that creates a painterly feel.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2020 at 2:36 PM

  9. Back when I was shooting with my Pentax PZ-1s, I had a 28-105 zoom that was powered by the camera and one could program it to zoom during an exposure. I used it a few times, but I’d forgotten about it. I greatly appreciate the reminder (and am particularly fond of your first image).


    September 2, 2020 at 6:31 PM

    • I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a camera that can be programmed to zoom during an exposure. I worked by hand and winged everything. Although individual results are largely unpredictable, I count on at least a small number of successes if I take enough pictures. Perhaps you’ll offer us a bit of zoomed New Zealand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2020 at 6:53 PM

      • I am taking that to heart and will see what I can do. There may be a whole new category of zed-en-zed, thanks to you.


        September 3, 2020 at 4:26 AM

        • When I wrote “zoomed New Zealand” I noticed the two z’s. If you do any ZNZs, let’s hope they have the power of TNT. As for zed, that didn’t seem as alien to me as it might to most Americans because for more than 50 years I’ve been used to zed as the name of that letter in French.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 3, 2020 at 5:11 AM

  10. These photos are spellbinding and the quotations great.


    September 3, 2020 at 8:54 PM

    • That’s a double positive, then. Although our country’s main founders abhorred and feared partisanship, it was only a few years before partisanship is what the country got; it’s been with us ever since, alas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 3, 2020 at 9:21 PM

  11. Certainly the quotes fit our times and in reality most all of our history. I don’t so much dislike a two or more party system as the garbage spewed in opposition of one or the other.

    The second image reminds me of a viking dragon boat heading to the unknown.

    Steve Gingold

    September 4, 2020 at 6:25 PM

    • I also got a sense of mystery from the second picture. Linda saw a gondola, and I a swan.
      Yes, I put up those quotations because of how well they fit the moment.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2020 at 8:29 PM

  12. Number two! I love it. The third one is very nice as well, for the feeling of dizziness it gives, almost like one was out in the heat without water for too long. 😉 Timely quotes!


    September 4, 2020 at 7:49 PM

    • Two was the surprise; I don’t think I’d ever had a magical, mystical result like that. I’ve sure been out in the heat and humidity a lot lately, but never without taking along something to drink. I hadn’t known there were so many similar utterance about partisanship from the founders.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2020 at 11:03 PM

      • There are always surprises when you move the camera, right? But sometimes, not so many surprises when you look at politics, no matter what century it is.


        September 18, 2020 at 2:58 PM

        • On the list of things that are inevitable, maybe to death and taxes we should add politics.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 18, 2020 at 5:33 PM

  13. […] the recent post about experiments in zooming I mentioned that the fountain at the Lakes Blvd. and Howard Lane hadn’t gotten turned on by […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: