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August 19th, 2008 - Pull Your Zoom

Back when I was in "The Chronic Pain Program," (I think they called it that because they thought we were all a bunch of hypocondriacal whiners, WE were the chronic pains) I had a Russian physical therapist that sounded a lot like "Natasha Fatale" of Bullwinkle & Rocky fame. One of her many buzzphrases came about when she was trying to get you to sit or stand up straight, she would say, "Now yhoo are da leetle mahrionette boy. You hyave da lettle strreeng coming frhum da top of your head. To sit up strhaight, you pool dat strreeng. Pool yhoar streeng! Pool yhoar streeng!"
So now when I tell anyone to pull anything, I have to fight the urge to tell them to 'Pool yhoar ______'.
I'm not sure why going to the dog-park lends itself so well to shooting pull-zooms (Pool yhoar zzoom!), but for me it does. Where we usually go is out by the airport, there are large open spaces with dogs running around and a nice westerly opening to the sunset, with a lot of room to play, just like for the dogs.
So I find myself doing pull or push-zooms of the dogs chasing balls, or people walking or running a lot.
A pull-zoom is a photographic effect created when you set your shutter speed fairly low, maybe 1/20th sec. or less, I usually use shutter-priority, but sometimes manual mode or experiment with other modes.
Then with the camera strapped so you can't drop it, you find your subject and zoom the lens all the way out. You can put manual focus on infinity or let it auto-focus, experiment with this later. Then with one hand holding the camera body with your finger on the shutter button and one hand on the zoom-ring of the lens, you push the shutter and simultaneously crank the zoom ring in towards you so that the lens zooms in over it's entire range during the time the shutter is closing. All while holding the camera pointed at the subject.

Sometimes if the shutter speed is high, you'll get just a little bit of pullidge around the subject, and the subject will be pretty well focused and stopped, giving just a hint of motion.
Sometimes if you hit it right you will get a cool freeze-motion effect, with the subject blurred but recognizable in the frame, usually the center. This was a popular shot for drag-racing pictures in the 1970's.
Then the last time we were at the DP, I thought, why do I never shoot sunsets with a pull-zoom? So I tried it and got this cool "hyper-space" effect by putting the sun behind the tree.

By lengthening the shutter speed a little I got "The Burning Bush."
By zooming-in all the way on the subject and pushing the zoom out, you get the opposite motion, "the push-zoom." Depending on how shaky you are, the shutter speed, which way you pull or push, length of lens, amount of light, etc., you get too many variables to predict. I like stuff like that!
Try it, it's fun! Pool yhoar zooom!
When you get good at that, try it on "Night Mode". That's where your camera takes a flash picture then shoots an exposure off of the metering of available light. Experimental opportunities abound...

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