Friday, April 17, 2009

Pinwheels and photography tips: capturing motion

Pinwheels at Jinli Gujie, Chengdu 090414 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

I have posted about Chinese pinwheels before but only in Swedish. At the moment Jinli Street beside Wuhou Temple has a number of very colourful pinwheels set up so I couldn't resist posting again and also using them to illustrate how you can use motion in an image to greater effect.

As you can see in the two pictures above both are colourful fun images, both perfectly acceptable. I have slowed down the shutter speed in the image to the right and created a blurred effect that I find more attractive than the static image on the left. It is also a must that you crop the image tightly when taking the picture to maximize effect and concentration on the pinwheel and colours. This was shot with a pocket digital camera so anyone who has the ability to manipulate the settings on their camera can do this. If you don't have manual settings you can fool around with the "pre-set" modes and see if one gives a slower shutter speed. Try "landscape mode" which will slow down shutter speed because it wants to utilize the smallest  aperture possible. If you shoot in low light you will compound the effect and get a slower speed. The speed I choose manually was 1/20 of a second. Have fun and experiment.

Pinwheels (fēng chē 风车) in Chinese traditional culture symbolize "zhuàn yùn ", the ability to "turn/shift your luck around". Most often they appear at temple fairs and markets around Chinese New Year in the hope that your "luck will turn around" in the new year. It also symbolizes the ability to turn an obstruction into a possibility. They are of course also colourful traditional toys for children.

Jinli Street recently undergone a major extension with several new alleys and streets added in the back, branching out and around Wuhou Temple. It is more picturesque and cosy now with numerous teahouses, restaurants and shops. No matter that Jinli is a complete fake facade, it is still a most welcome break from pavement and concrete. And a great place to photograph iconic colourful images of traditional symbols.

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