08/29/10 584 W, 9 I - + 8 - 21 Guys on a Roof at Night

Vertical ventilation was performed at this morning's house fire at 709 Coventry Court. Engine 9 arrived at a one-story, wood-frame, vinyl-sided structure with 1,246 square-feet. Built 1976. Heavy smoke coming from the front of the structure. By the time they stretched their lines, fire was showing from the front. At a subsequent point in time, ladder company personnel cut a hole in the roof. Below is a picture of same. The alarm time was about 5:15 a.m. Units on scene included E9, E16. E4, E15, L1, R1, B1, B_, C10, C20, A1, C5, EMS 3, EMS 12_, EMS 12_, M9_, D4, T1. Click to enlarge:


Now let's talk about the shot. The subjects are on a roof. The photographer is on the street, and maybe ten feet away from the curb. The camera is a Canon Digital Rebel XT, with a 70-200mm f4.0 L lens. That is, a telephoto lens with sufficient focal length to "see" what's happening. The problem is the amount of light. Though the halogens are blazing on several pieces of apparatus, it's still questionable if there's enough available light  to make the picture happen. That is, a minimally or non-blurry picture.

What about using the flash, you ask? Probably out of the question. There won't be enough light to fully saturate the subjects; instead, just their reflective stripes will blaze, and everything else will be rendered dark. Heck, even if the photographer up there with firefighters, using the flash would be a tricky proposition. The output of the flash would have to be "dialed down." But I digress, and not before thinking of lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof. Change "fiddler" to "photographer" and there's your idea for a new, hit musical. 

Back to shooting. Here are the camera settings that were used, notably Program AE (Auto Exposure). That's P on the settings dial:


ISO setting of 1600, the highest that my camera will allow. That's the bottom option on this menu:


And this Exposure Compensation button, which reduces or increases the exposure:


Hold that button while turning a dial, and you see something like this, as the camera manual tells:


For this photo, the dial was turned all the way to the left, for maximum decreased exposure compensation. Meaning, the shutter would snap as fast as possible, based on what the camera was calculating for aperture and shutter speed. (Many others simply control those settings directly, using Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority, or Manual Exposure camera modes. I am still learning said settings, so this is my present method.)

Stood very still, held the camera very tight, and began shooting. And continued shooting. Dozen. Two dozen. Three dozen. And more. Why so many? Because, again, there's really not enough light. By taking so many versions of the same shot, I stand a reasonable chance that the camera will catch the firefighters during a moment that they are not moving. Or barely moving. Because when there's not enough light, movement causes blurring. 

Here's everything that I shot. What was called a "contact sheet" back in the day. Click to enlarge:


And out of those, there were really blurry ones:


And some minimally blurring ones:


And, finally, one least-blurry one. The keeper. This one you can click to enlarge:


And there you have it. Sunday morning photography school.

Time for breakfast.

Then re-read this thing and probably change a few things.

I actually like the blurry ones. Shows movement. Gives a sense of “in the trenches” photography.
Joliet Jake - 08/29/10 - 13:22

Thanks. I think there’s good blur and bad blur. The former is more defined, maybe a foreground object or person that’s blurred and in motion, but against a more focused background. The latter is just that. Too much blur, too seemingly out of focus. In my opinion.
Legeros - 08/29/10 - 13:42

Remember personal info?

/ Textile

Comment moderation is enabled on this site. This means that your comment will not be visible on this site until it has been approved by an editor.

To prevent spam we require you to answer this silly question

  (Register your username / Log in)

Hide email:

Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.