Strange things afoot at the circle K

Discussion in 'Critique my photographs' started by Davis, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. #1 Davis, Jul 28, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
    I'm not sure if the critique section is the best for this post, but hey ho.

    I've got a strange one.

    Any thoughts gratefully received.

    And so the story goes:

    Inspired by the @moroseduck 'lightning John Thomas' photo, I recently grabbed my camera when a storm hit London last week.
    Rather enamored with my Electro 35 GX I selected it as the tool for the job.

    As I dont have a remote cable which works nicely, I went for the timer and balanced it on a tripod (lost the adapter thing).

    I took one set up shot to check the timer etc:

    [​IMG]Image 1 (19).jpg by jeremybeachman, on Flickr

    Happy with the set up I waited to sense (guess) when lightning would strike...

    Suddenly a chimney belched out a load of black smoke (never seen it do this before)I took that as a sign and pressed the shutter (forgetting to set the self timer - stupid set up shot, pointless with film?)

    Right at that moment the most spectacular lightning strike hit.

    I was damn pleased with myself, that butterflies in the stomach feeling you get when you think you have captured one hell of a shot.
    A decisive moment.

    Then my heart sank, I expected to hear an open and shut of the shutter, but I didnt hear the shut. I tested the battery and the damn thing was flat.
    Right on the shot of a lifetime.
    I couldn't believe my misfortune.

    Still secretly holding onto a little bit of hope I developed the film yesterday. The 35s default to the quickest shutter speed with no battery. Could I have captured anything at 1/500 f16? Probably not I thought, but to give myself a fighting chance I went for a stand develop in Rodinal at 1:100

    The result has left me a little confused as to whats going on.

    Let take a look:

    [​IMG]Image 1 (20).jpg by jeremybeachman, on Flickr

    what the deuce?

    Development artefact? lightning?

    here is a closer look at the action on the street:

    [​IMG]Image 1 (20)-2.jpg by jeremybeachman, on Flickr

    Look at those ripples!

    And here is a close up of the shard in the background of the first image:

    [​IMG]Image 1 (20)-3.jpg by jeremybeachman, on Flickr
  2. What I suspect happened is that there was enough juice in the battery to tell it to hold that shutter open for a good long while. The reason you didn't hear it shut was probably because it didn't until after you had started to move it, and as the shutter was open when you moved it you got some lovely light painting effects going on.

    If it had gone off at f16 for 1/500th then you would have got squat, at f16 that shutter must have been open well over a second, I would have guessed at multiple seconds.

    I might be being a massive tard here, but isn't the self timer simply a mechanism that winds down and fires the shutter? Not sure that will help you with capturing lightning, you really just want to put it on bulb, open it up for several seconds and hope that the lightning happens right in front of you. Chances are it won't - I think this might be one of those rare occurrences where film is a poor second to digital, simply because you can take a helluva lot of shots and get absolutely nothing.
  3. Also, 69!
  4. If that was the case, would you not expect all the light sources to show the same pattern?

    It only occurs in 4 places.
  5. 69 dude!
  6. It looks like it was the closest and strongest light sources, the others probably weren't chucking out enough juice to register the movement.
  7. Re the self timer - that sure is it's function.
    I used it to eliminate camera shake (no remote trigger) and also to test it's function.

    The control shot was taken with the self timer, sounded around 1/2 sec exposure or so, the time was early evening. It looks like night but colour film would tell a different story.
  8. The shard is a good few kms away, but the pattern is visible from its tip. The surrounding buildings, of probably an equal light intensity don't show the patern.
    I think the 3 patterns in the foreground are street signs, not lamp posts. The marks going down the road are also strange.
  9. Perhaps camera shake during the period that the reflective signs were illuminated by the flash of lightning, Aliens or ghosts then?
  10. I think this mystery may be solved already but to chip in my thoughts - the patterns being of identical light path point to the camera being moved. Either you move mighty speedily to get that done in a 1/500th second or the shutter was open longer than that.

    Could it be that the shutter mechanism is not sticking to proper times? Maybe the battery was flat but the timing mechanism for the shutter is not what it once was, maybe sticky? Is the shutter timed by electronics usually? I know in my Electro 35 GTN it is...
  11. #11 Davis, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
    I'm still uncomfortable with respect to knowing what's gone on.

    First off, here is an iphone pic taken a few minutes earlier.
    I think it shows what sort of light was around, and also why I think 1/500 is reasonable.


    400 Asa film, so with sunny 16 I would give that about f5.6 @ 1/400
    So 1/500 @ f16 isn't that much under exposed. Plus the shot is under exposed!
    Stand development also really seems to bring out the details.

    Other points are; why is the shape so regular?
    I get why the light trail would be - as it is related to the camera movement.
    But why is the big lump on the right the same shape ? If they were 3 different light sources I would expect them to have different source shapes.

    There are other point light sources which don't show the movement, these sources have an equal or higher intensity to the shard which does show the 'thing'.

    The almost sine wave going down the road. Wtf.

    And although it's not a sharp picture, how did I manage to wave the camera that much but then keep it ever so still. Still enough to be able to make out a crane about a km away. All in a fraction of a second. I agree it could well be more than 1/500 but as it was not that dark, and 400 speed film, how long an exposure could you expect? And it has to be not log enough to properly expose to boot.
  12. Maybe it's a Higgs boson? You could be promoted to Head of Cern next week.
    And yes, I have run out of sensible comments :)

    It seems you have a mystery!
  13. I don't know dude. You've got an old camera balanced on a tripod, an unknown shutter speed, possibly a flash during the image, possibly not, and the vagaries of film development, that's a pretty big Window of opportunity for light and it's interaction with the film to get weird.
    Whist the image is reasonably sharp, there is indication of movement, not just in the light trails, which would be near impossible at 1/500th. Also, the chance of catching an event which lasts around 0.000050 of a second in a 1/500th of a second window seems slim.
  14. As others have said, that shutter was most likely (I'd say definitely) open for longer than you think. Did you take the shot and then lift it off the tripod, which would account for the light trails? Perhaps the shutter didn't shut until you changed/checked the battery.

    With regards to why the rest of the image looks reasonably sharp, I suspect that when you moved the camera the dark areas simply weren't exposed long enough to register on the film. It's worth remembering/knowing that film doesn't respond to light uniformly in the way a digital sensor does. There is a bit of inertia to get over during which time nothing will register, and then pretty quickly the sensitivity peaks and then drops off again. This varies from film to film, but the reciprocity failure rates will be printed on that little leaflet that nobody reads that comes with most films.

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