First attempts – Zoom Burst

This is a Journey.  I am not pretending to be the expert.  I’m just describing my attempts to do a zoom burst photograph for the dogwood challenge.  A zoom burst happens when you change the focal length of the lens during a long exposure.  Yes you’ve guessed it.  I was not looking forward to it, it was not my cup of tea and not what I wanted to do.  So what don’t I like about these photos?  Is it that they are a bit cliche?  A bit obvious?  Perhaps it’s the loss of definition and lack of sharpness.  Perhaps it’s the loss of control.  Well that was the start of the journey.  I became excited as I undertook this activity.


This is Frances picture of Lunar park.    She took this picture in Sydney before I had arrived.  It has been very popular in the Dogwood Group.  I must admit she did an excellent job.  Frances took this picture after reading instructions on Google.  She did not have a tripod, so she steadied her camera on the railing around the Opera House.  She had set a long shutter speed.  She then selected the lunar park foreshore as her initial focusing point and slowly zoomed out.  This caused the lights to recede in towards  the centre of the picture.  The radiating lines above lunar park emanate from the overhead Sydney Harbor bridge.

When I arrived in Sydney I had a crack at the Opera House.  Again I followed Frances technique.  My hand was not as steady and the lines are all rather wobbly.

Opera House as dusk 3

The Sydney Harbour Bridge on the other hand was a lot closer and a lot larger and so it was difficult to zoom out.  All I could do was to zoom in to the bridge.  This gave the opposite effect, with the lines jumping right out of the page towards me.

Harbour Bridge

It seems that you need to have a fairly uncluttered subject with a reasonably dark background to get maximal effect.  Night scenery is ideal.  It helps to have the camera steady and to  linger for a second or two at the initial focussing point to leave a strong imprint of the subject before you start to zoom.

As I wandered around Sydney I had a crack at different subjects.  Some were successful, some were not.

Looking at images that were posted on the webpage I realized some people had achieved a much greater degree of control resulting in some outstanding images and stunning effects.  A boy holding a light saber was surrounded by a zoom burst of stars looking like the command deck of the starship enterprise when it goes into warp drive. The stars were just christmas tree lights.  I guess the boy was lit by initial curtain flash.

Another imageof a  typewriter keyboard seemed to jump up and have letters hovering in mid air.  Likewise an old telephone.  The author had allowed both the initial and end image to register by lingering for a few seconds both before and after the zoom burst.  It was almost like a double exposure of an image with a magnified second image of itself.

I had to give this last technique a go.  I set up a small table top setup at home with some ornaments from around the house.  I used a tripod this time, and some mat black cloth as a back drop.  Here are my attempts at the double image  zoom burst.

I was quite pleased with these images.  I’d like to try the double image effect on the opera house.  Perhaps another time. I’d also like to give the star wars image a crack.

I hope that this brief introduction has wet you appetite, as it has mine.  Get your camera out and try some zoom burst photography.