I'm back with another installment in "Corey's Photography Tutorials", and if you are interested in what I have covered so far, you can always find the other posts on my right hand sidebar.
Today, I'm hoping to cover a subject I have heard MANY requests for.....FAST MOVING SUBJECTS! So many parents lament the challenge of photographing fast moving toddlers. It seems that more often than not, we get some really interesting blurred photos, or tons of shots of the back of their heads as they run away. SIGH.....Kids!
It isn't easy....but it surely isn't impossible to photograph a very active child, especially if it is YOUR child. You have an advantage. You KNOW your child well. They KNOW you, and.....you are with them a great deal of time. All these things actually work in your favor when photographing any child, but especially the ones on the go.
First and foremost, like I said before, go to your manual. Find out which settings might work best for photographing a moving object. For point and shoot cameras, it might be the "sports" mode. When in "sports" mode though, you need to have enough light. Most "sports" modes don't allow flash, so it doesn't work well in low light situations. For DSLR's you might want to just make sure you have a shutter speed of 125 or more. The MORE the better. If Sugar is really moving a lot, I try not to go lower than 150 on the shutter speed. If you are scared to try the "Manual" mode, just go with the "Shutter Priority" mode, and set the shutter to 150, and start snapping. There are really too many different types of cameras for me to give any more specifics than that. Read your manual.
Another problem I see with fast moving subjects is photos appear to be out of focus. This is due to the fact that the camera lost track of your main subject. Depending on the type of camera you are using, and what focus mode you are in, focus can fall on the tree, and not your child. The child simply moved right out of the field of focus. It is important to read about how your camera focuses. You may be able to set it to a type of focus that constantly refocuses on a moving subject. Again....READ THE MANUAL. Yes....I know...I'm a broken record, and as some would say...NO FUN!
Besides getting your camera in the right mode, there are many techniques I recommend for getting the best photos of a moving subject. I am going to outline as many as I can here.
It is my belief that the Digital Age has really changed photography in a myriad of ways, and one of my favorites is the fact that you can take a billion pictures with relatively NO cost to you. With film, I used to take only a few photos at each event, as the film was spendy, and paying for the "messed-up" photos annoyed me. On average, I would take no more than 10 photos while at the park. NOW...with my digital...I take 100 AT LEAST! Yes, you read that right 100. I truly feel that when photographing fast moving subjects it is important to take lots and lots of photos, because invariably you will get the blurry ones. The more photos you take, the better the odds of getting a few good ones.
This day while Sugar Bear explored the world around her, (yes it is a different day than this one), I took a little over 100 photos. Of the 20 I took of her jumping into the puddles, only 5 were satisfactorily in focus. I had little trouble with blur, due to a nice high shutter speed, but my focus was off. Sometimes the puddle was in nice focus, and Sugar Bear was blurry. Frustrating, but if you take LOTS of photos....you will get some that work out, while you are practicing to find the right mode, and focus style. Practice a lot.
Make it a habit to take the camera with you whenever you can. When going to the park, always take your camera. Play with your child, wear them out....then whip out the camera. They have to slow down sometime, right? ...well, at least some of them do. Basically, the more often you take photos the more likely you are to get the good shots. Your child will learn to ignore you and the camera, and it is then that you get the great shots.
Follow your subject, and just snap away. Start loving the shots of the BACK of them. Some of my favorite shots are from behind. I love feeling like I am seeing the world from her view. I think too often people worry over getting their face in the shot. This is not always ideal. A photo can capture the way your subject walks, and how they hold themselves. These memories are to be cherished as well.
Hold a conversation with them. Describe what they are doing, and show lots of interest. Direct them towards things you know will hold their attention. All children have things that interest them. As their parent, you have a pretty good idea what it is. Point out things for them to stop and look at, and quickly fire off some shots. If you are indoors, hand them something you know they will enjoy inspecting, and quickly take some shots. Most children will stop and investigate, for at least 30 seconds, something that catches their eye. Use that time wisely. Be ready....be prepared.
Here Sugar Bear was happily running down the road, when I said, "Hey Sugar! Where are the goats? I can't see them. Help!" She flipped around, and started pointing at them. I got at least 5 shots in before she moved on her way. The tip here is to be in position, have your settings ready BEFORE getting their attention. When Sugar turned around, I was already in a crouched position, and I had made sure my camera's settings were set. All I had to do was press the shutter. Be prepared! Get their attention at the last minute.
Moving subjects are a challenge. No one can deny that, but WE can do it. It just takes practice, and being prepared. You can do it.
1. Move in close.
2. Get down at their level.
3. Don't be too centered.
4. Play with tilt.
5. Showcase who they are.
6. Read your manual.
*** oh and don't forget I'm on Top Momma! CLICK HERE!!!!! You know you want to. Click it a few times in fact. I get a referral each time you click the link, and a click each time you click on Sugar's sweet photo. Isn't that fun? I can't think of a single thing I should be doing today other than clicking. Can you? ***