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This is a 44 second exposure. I am on a moving steamer which is shaking like a washing machine in its final spin cycle. I know why the people ended up like blurred ghosts and why the clouds and background are smeared (they moved relative to the image sensor during the long exposure), but it really surprised me at just how sharp the boat and its rigging remained.

I'm just back from New Zealand where I attended a PODAS - a Phase One Digital Artist Series workshop. Along with friends Christian Fletcher and Jackie Ranken, we took a group of keen photographers to some amazing locations around Queenstown. The PODAS is spearheaded by Kevin Raber and, being a Phase One event, everyone gets to use a Phase One camera with an IQ160 digital back. Suffice to say the quality of our image files was superlative!

When I positioned my Alpa with the IQ180 back on a tripod up the front of TSS Earnslaw, I could feel the shuddering and shaking of the ship beneath my feet as its engine motored along. It was so obvious I thought I was going to end up with a really creative 'blur', including the ship itself, but I was prepared to accept this as an exploratative exercise. And if the photo was good enough, I could merge a second, sharper image taken at a normal (faster) shutter speed with the blurred file.

However, looking at the files on the back of the camera, they were incredibly sharp. The stays and ropes holding up the masts were crisp and clean and I could see lots of detail in all the woodwork. How could the images be so sharp given I could feel so much vibration?

The weather on the way out was bright and sunny, but the return trip was just on sunset, not that we could see it because the weather had clouded over. However, it meant I didn't need the neutral density filter.

So, whether a 44 second or a 9 second exposure, the results were very sharp as far as the ship was concerned. My only conclusion is that my tripod and camera were vibrating in perfect synchronisation with the ship.

Is this right? Is there a scientist out there who can tell me?

I had metal spikes on the feet of my tripod, so while I was worried the captain might kick me off for damaging his wooden deck (no, I didn't dig the spikes into the woodwork), perhaps this in some way worked better than the usual rubber feet?

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