South of Boston sits the quiet town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. This was the site of the landing of the Pilgrims to the new world in 1620. Brought here by the sailing ship Mayflower. The Pilgrims were leaving their home world of England to create a new home to practice their version of Christianity. Originally intending to travel to the Virginia Colony of Jamestown, they were beset by a sudden storm while exploring the bay. They decided to stay here and form the Plimouth Colony.
In 1947 a Boston stockbroker named Henry Hornblower II funded the creation of what would become known as Plimouth Plantation. The site was a recreation of the original town of Plimouth in the year 1627. It is staffed by interpreters who inhabit the town and maintain a first person persona of actual residents of the village. First person is the method by which a person acts as if they are from the era surrounding them. Third person which is where the guide lectures to the visitors aware that the current era exists. The park is renown as one of the premiere interpretive parks in the country.
The photo above was made in the colony’s blockhouse which also served as the town hall and church. With the only available light coming from the open doors, the scene was very dark. I wanted this image to be illuminated by the beautiful side light but I wanted to the image to be sharp. I had been making HDR images earlier in the day but the movement of the subject, the Dr. Samuel Fuller, made that option impossible. I decided to go to a higher ISO and as low a shutter speed as possible.
This photo was made with a 70-200mm at 1/20 sec f5.6 iso 1600. The rule of thumb with sharp images is to set your shutter consistent with the focal length of the lens used. This is not a scientific rule but a practicality to follow. For example, if you have a 50mm lens then set your shutter to at least 1/60sec. This is to minimize camera shake from hand holding and is irrelevant if used on a tripod. Todays lens, including the one used here are often equipped with vibration compensation technology that allows a photographer to hold there camera at dramatically slower shutter speeds.
However, this does nothing for the movement of the subject. At 1/20 sec, it is difficult maintain a crisp image of a person even on a tripod. The technique to capture this image is to watch the subject and learn their rhythm. As people speak, they have pause points that they punctuate their talking with. The trick is to watch and time your shot when they hit these dramatic pauses. These are also the moments when they will have their best pose as well. So, technology will help but observation and timing is key to making images in low light levels.
To learn more about Plimouth Plantation: