“the most important thing is not clicking the shutter, it is clicking with the subject”
This quote has really struck a cord with me recently and made me analyse the way I take photographs. I noticed that a lot of the time I tend to hold my finger down on the multi-shot feature and just take continuous photographs, especially when shooting fast moving people or objects, but this is most definitely not the best practice.
Alfred Eisenstaedt is thought by many to be the father of photojournalism and one of the greatest photographers of all time. He was the master of candid photography and usually only carried around one camera.
This image of children imitating a drum major really shows his skill in really capturing the moment, perfectly showing it to it’s full potential.
I decided that I need to step up my game and really start working with the subject I see through my lens, as Eisenstaedt suggests, and I got the perfect chance to try this out a few weeks ago at Cantelowes skatepark in Camden.
Ashley and a few friends chose a wonderfully sunny day to go there and skate, i’m not comfortable with bowls and know that it gets busy there so I decided to try out my camera instead.
To begin with I followed the skaters around the bowl with my camera but, although my pictures weren’t bad, couldn’t seem to get any impressive shots. The sunshine wasn’t helping as the stark contrast between the over exposed sunlight and dark shadows in the bowl made it really hard to find the right exposure levels.
After a while I started to watch the skaters more closely and understand their movements and where I could get the best shots of each individual skater. Luckily I’ve skated with and watched Ash and Milan a lot and found it really easy to predict their movements making for plenty of good photographs but, as much as I love to shoot them both, I really wanted pictures of everyone there.
I noticed there were certain areas of the bowl where every skater would get high or try something interesting and so decided these would be the best areas to train my camera on. I also noticed that certain skaters, particularly the more experienced ones, were practicing certain moves over and over so that they could perfect them. This was exactly the information I needed to really improve my photographs!
I trained my camera on these sections, depending on the skater, which meant I could set my shutter speed and focus ready for the subject to make their appearance into frame.
It took a bit of practice to really get the timings but eventually I managed to get some shots that I’m really proud of, not only that but all the shots I was taking started being useable rather than having a lot that i would never use.
I’m really proud of myself for the improvements i’ve made from just one day, and not just me, Ash learnt to drop in too with help from a good friend from Newtons Shred. A very successful day!
I am trying to be a lot more aware of my surroundings from now on, and not just when I have my camera on me. I really think that learning to recognise memorable moments will help improve my photography immensely.
I think there is a lot to learn from other photographers, both old and current, and so plan to do lots of research into others, particularly other nature photographers. I’ll be sharing my research with you all in future blog posts, probably once a month, and use their influences in my own photoshoots. I think it could make for some very interesting results!
You can see the rest of the photographs for this shoot right here on my facebook!
Yesterday I went to a good skate spot with Ash and our friend Milan.
I took both my board and camera along, hoping to make some good progress with both. The board, unfortunately, was not my friend as the last time I had skated it was lovely and wet where as now it was dry and a lot more grippy. The fact that I (again) hadn’t skated in a long time meant i was more or less starting from scratch.
It did seem to come back to me quickly though, but my bum saw the pavement far too many times. I tore a hole in my bottoms, the sign of a true skater, and then proceeded to tear through my skin leaving a nice graze on my rear. It was a wonderfully painful drive home once we’d finished.
After I had wracked my bum cheek (and before we went home) I decided it was time to get my camera out before I did any more damage, I knew I was getting tired and would only hurt myself more if I carried on despite wanting to.
As it was dark I wanted to experiment with long shutter speeds and my flash, i think the results were very interesting.
I set up my camera on a tripod and set it so that I controlled when the shutter closed and opened so that I could get my timings spot on (theoretically).
I pressed the shutter button early and held my external flash separate so that I could operate it exactly when I wanted. I quickly flashed light at the subjects before releasing the shutter button on the camera. I was hoping that this would mean there would be long trails from the skaters finished with a clear image of them.
To some extent it did work and definitely gave me some very eerie photographs, but I know there’s room for a lot more improvement!
Of course I will keep experimenting. I plan to try different times of day/lighting, different shutter speeds and different apertures as well as new techniques in photoshop to really bring my photographs to life!
I love challenging myself like this as it really helps me to learn new techniques and understand my camera even better. I really do want to try more nighttime photography now that I have a tripod again and aim to have a few wanderings once the sun has gone down.