As has been the case a few times recently, I was down in Millennium Park recently at night. I was there to see something else but, while I was there, I took some time to watch the ice skaters. There is an ice rink beside Millennium Park that is free to the public to use. If you don’t have skates, they are available for hire. However, if you come equipped, you are free to skate!
The rink stays open relatively late each evening and I spent some time from above watching everyone having fun. Of course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take some pictures (and also some video – I figure that all of these clips will one day be part of a larger montage of Chicago footage). Since it is dark, it is time to try other techniques.
I was surprised how well lit the rink was. I could get some quite fast shutter speeds if I wanted to. However, that wasn’t really the point. I can come during the day if that is what I want. Instead, the slow shutter speeds were actually what I was looking for. The question then becomes how slow.
I was mounting the camera to the railings with a flexible arm and clamp so my motion wasn’t a problem. If the shutter speeds got too long, the blur of the skaters became so vague, it was hard to see whether they were there or not. A slightly faster speed meant they became a bit more distinct. This was what I was after. You still needed to get the larger groups of skaters to make it show up noticeably though. The perfect combination was when someone would stay totally still (or close to it) during the shot. Then you had the juxtaposition of the movement and the lack of movement. That was my favorite.