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Monday, February 25, 2008

Would You Just Stand Still??????

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, 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 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 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.
Let's review:
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.
7. Don't be afraid to fill up your memory card.


*** 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? ***

21 Live It or Love It:

Megan Cobb said...

Woooooooohoooooooooo! Thank you. That was HUGELY helpful, as always. :) Mama loves her some Corey advice - my pictures get better every time you write a tutorial!

Joeprah said...

What an awesome tutorial. I do most of those except all of them. I need a better camera first. Wait, I do get down to their level. That is something I pride myself in. Even when at tourist locations. I am that guy laying on the ground taking posed photos of his family looking down at him. I love the splash action photo. Awesome.

Autumn said...

First I must say those pictures of her jumping are brilliant. I just love them. Second, this right here made my day... " I took a little over 100 photos. Of the 20 I took of her jumping into the puddles, only 5 were satisfactorily in focus"
In so many photography books by professional photographers I have read that they have to take hundreds of pictures to get that one shot. People get really discouraged after a couple shots don't turn out, I am guilty of it, thank you for the reminder to keep shooting. You rock!

Unknown said...

I totally agree with the back shots. Some of the best pics I have taken are shooting the girl's backs. Another great lesson....when should we expect your book??

Anonymous said...

I love your 'the end' shot! Soooo cute! And I agree with huckdoll... I think a book is in your future : )

Unknown said...

Great installment!
I agree with the 100's of photos, I take stacks of photos every day! As for the back shots, I need to learn to take more of them.

holly said...

i gotta get off my butt and make my "what i have learned from corey" post.

you are awesome. have i mentioned that ever?

more great photos, my lovely.

and point taken about faces. i should stop throwing the non-face ones away. oops. but you see, mine are stoopid. yours work so well.

you'll see. soon, you'll see.

david mcmahon said...

I spent two nine-hour days in India travelling up and then down a highway, shooting out of the window of a moving four-wheel-drive (what you'd call an SUV).

GREAT fun!!

Maude Lynn said...

You make a great point about taking LOTS of shots. That's the only way to go!

Deb said...

I do get fairly good action shots with my little camera - at least as good as you can expect. And I know what you mean about taking a lot of shots - my hubby gives me a hard time about how many pictures I take. :)

Great tips as always - these posts are so helpful and really make me think more about what I'm doing instead of just snapping photos willy nilly... I probably should get my manual out and learn more about how my camera works though! ;)

Momo Fali said...

Why do I torture myself by coming here? I can't even take a still photo and here you are taking action shots! Sigh...

tommie said...

I had to come tell you I played around with this yesterday. I had so much fun I had to post about it today. I can't wait for the next rain!

I even linked to you to show others how awesome you are!

CMB said...

My friend and I were just having this conversation. Thank you for the fabulous tips.

The Egel Nest said...

Another excellent tutorial :)

The Egel Nest

Vashonnte said...

your daughter is so adorable! puddles are so fun! your pictures are amazing!

Anonymous said...

I love your tutorials!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Fabulous as ever Corey. I am learning so much. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Corey, thanks so much for the tutorial on this subject. I've learned :)

Anonymous said...

Corey, this was beyond awesome! <3 Your Work!!

Carolyn said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Great stuff!! My trick with kids to get their attention is to ask, "what's on my head?" It's great because not only do they look in my direction, but I usually get funny expressions when there is nothing on my head. At first they're confused and then they usually laugh because they realize I'm joking. Unfortunately I've used it too many times on Csilla. When I ask her what's on my head, she doesn't even look up and deadpans, "Nothing Mama. Again."

Rose said...

Yes, it's September, I'm behind on the times. But I just had to say thank you for making me feel better about taking 100 shots at a time. I was beginning to think I was a freak!

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