#1188. Whisk Away

By Ian Varkevisser | Art & Creativity

Apr 03

You might be forgiven for thinking this is going to be a blog about cooking but it does contain a list of ingredients and instructions.

Surgeon General’s Warning : Contains a high dose of technical ingredients and artistic post processing.

For the technophobes feel free to skip the blurb and jump to the pretty pictures below. For the technophobes who are also purists feel free to scroll on by – wasting your time might cause angst and ulcers.

Ingredients :

  • 1 egg whisk
  • 1 meter of cord
  • 1 torch – to help obtain focus in the dark
  • 1 jet lighter – the type that stays lit up in windy conditions.
  • a packet of the finest wire wool
  • a willing helper who is skilled in the art of fire walking
  • 1 wide angle zoom 24-70 is fine
  • 1 sturdy tripod
  • 1 1.5 to 5 stop variable ND filter – optional
  • 1 remote release.

Before mixing find a safe suitable fire resistant location and await civil twilight after sunset.

Manually preset your mixer to F/11 15 sec ISO 100 ( or 200 if you have a Fuji ) and adjust your ND filter to give around 1 stop under exposure. ( this starting point may come as somewhat of a surprise but F/11 can be used throughout the shoot – it has a good depth of field in the wide angle range in case your focus is not 100% spot on ) Obtain focus on your awaiting willing helper and change to manual focus – note the focus distance on your in camera focus meter in case you knock your lens – I know just a little Fuji mirrorless brag – eat your heart out all you DSLR users – sorry about that.

During the course of the evening as it wears on adjust your exposure accordingly using either your ND filter ( if you are using one ) or your ISO. As it gets darker you will need to switch over to bulb mode and your remote release, remove your ND filter and rely on ISO. The best results are obtained during this period by starting images just as the wire wool is lit and closing the shutter at the point the wire wool runs out. If your willing helper also has a torch to apply creative icing to the image once the wool extinguishes , your exposure may extend to over 30 seconds

A healthy dose of variable exposure times and zoom burst on the longer exposures is highly encouraged.

To finish off the recipe place images under the Lightroom grill and apply liberal texture , clarity , creative colour science, negative contrast and dehaze to taste.

Voilà – enjoy your meal .

F/8.0 ………. 20 Sec ……….ISO 200

F/8.0 ………. 9 Sec ……….ISO800

F/5.6 ………. 9 Sec ……….ISO 1250

F/11.0 ………. 50 Sec ……….ISO 400

F/11.0 ………. 50 Sec ……….ISO 400

F/11.0 ………. 17 Sec ……….ISO 320

F/11.0 ………. 34 Sec ……….ISO 320

F/11.0 ………. 30 Sec ……….ISO 400

F/11.0 ………. 27 Sec ……….ISO 320

All images shot at Dalebrook tidal pool and adjacent railway line. Health and safety officer ensures no wildlife or fynbos was harmed in the making of these images


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Holy moly! Well you’re braver than I am – or else your trains are less frequent!

    Jealous as hell – I’m no longer sufficiently athletic to do anything of the kind, so I’ll just have to enjoy your images instead, Ian.

  • Pascal O. says:

    Dear Ian,
    The swirls, the twirls, your pictures whisked me away!! Amazing!! Spectacular.
    Thank you!

  • Michael Fleischer says:

    Hi Ien, what a creative set of images – may playful photos never disappear – that said from a more traditional inclined photographer!
    I particularly like the 3´rd image with the swirl, cascading lights & “spaghetti ribbons” in the emerald green water.
    Super execution!

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      it is very very busy but i think it works because of the reflections in the water Michael

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Superb, Ian… creation, pure and simple 🙂
    My fave is the 2nd one… I love it’s abstract quality, tilting the image was a great decision!
    More of this kind of stuff anytime 🙂

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      always willing to rotate images give them a somewhat abstract look Pascal. worked well for this particular one – an owl some say

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Very creative (and technical), Ian! Per Pascal’s suggestion, I skipped the technical bits and simply enjoyed your fascinating images. Kudos!

  • Lad Sessions says:

    Ian, these are very pleasing images, created by a very imaginative photog. (The third is my favorite.) The recipe or process doesn’t entice me (I’m with Pete), but I’m quite interested in the results, which are wonderful! Thank you for opening our eyes.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Lad, as they say power is nothing without control , or the results are nothing without the correct recipe. Glad you enjoyed the pretty pictures though

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