A zoom-burst, why not?

Staying on the same theme as doing something different, these are from a monsoon trip to Kabini last year. Obviously, it rained on both the days of the trip and that usually is a killer for bird activity. I had it in my head that I would try a zoom-burst and I was carrying the 70-200 for that purpose.

On our first ride we spotted a tusker by the side of the road and stopped. He didn’t seem to mind our presence and was going about his work, twisting & plucking out blades of grass, thrashing them to remove loose soil and munching them – while edging closer and close to us all the while. He eventually came so close to us that I switched to the ultra-wide 11-16. And it then occurred to me that I could try a zoom-burst using that. Not really what one would usually use as there is hardly any breathing space between the minimum and the maximum focal length of the lens, but I wanted to see what the result would look like.

The second, somewhat fruitful attempt was using the 70-200 with an Indian Peafowl as the subject. The longer “burst” streaks are reflective of the higher breathing space between the min and max focal distance of the lens.

Slow moving or stationary subjects, in my opinion, are perfect for zoom-burst experiments as the blur caused by the motion of the subject would be minimal. The basic principle here is that one slows the shutter-speed considerably and focuses on the subject either fully zoomed-out or fully zoomed-in. And then, while clicking, either zoom-in or zoom-out by smoothly rotating the zoom-ring of the lens. This will cause the image to blur from the center outwards and will look as if the scene is bursting out towards you. Keeping the burst lines/blur even and straight is directly a function of how smooth the zoom rotation was and how steady the camera has been held. Using a tripod (or any external support) to steady the lens would result in a better quality of burst.

As with most such techniques, the more one practises the better one would get with the use of these and I am hoping that I will improve over these initial learning attempts.

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