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Checklist: Shoot from the Hip Photography Part 7

August 5th, 2012 No Comments

On your own time, become one with your camera;  know how it operates, specially the shutter release delay.  Practice the exercise described earlier.  And become knowledgeable about how events may unfold for the subjects you are interested in, i.e. be able to predict the unfolding of the subject’s actions or events.

If you sense or feel that a shooting opportunity will be at hand:

1.  Keep your camera on and ensure it has plenty of juice (unless you’re using an all-mechanical camera).  And make certain that it is not set for automatic, preprogrammed shut-off after a certain number of minutes, otherwise you may think you have a ready camera when, in fact, it is off.

2.  Keep your flash on.  If it is a separate attachment, ensure that the batteries are not weak.

3.  Ensure that your magnetic card (or film roll) has ample space.  You will probably not find enough time to erase images from the card or to reload film.

4.  As your camera hangs off your neck, keep your right hand on or around it in your usual grip position so that you can bring it into position immediately.

5.  Keep the mode on one or another autoexposure setting; you have enough things to worry about.  If you have the time, you can adjust it later.

6.  Given the kind of time interval you are working with, take care of as much of the following as you can: Distance from subject or event, focus, and focal length: these three factors are interdependent.  Given the focal length of your lens, get to the optimal distance, which is as near as possible as the subject will allow without being affected or disturbed so as to maximize frame coverage area, and try to pre-focus.  If your camera gives consistently good results on autofocus in extremely rapid point-and-shoot situations, use autofocus.

7.  If the subject could lose its naturalness or change behaviour entirely if it notices you with a camera, conceal yourself or at least conceal your intentions.  If you conceal yourself, it should be in such a way that you have a clear sight to the subject within a step or two.  Be unobtrusive.  And be on your toes.

8.  Begin the process of anticipation, be it milliseconds or minutes, and ‘prep’ yourself to ‘point and shoot’ or, using the LCD panel, literally ‘shoot from the hip’ at the precise instant;  and when you think that special fleeting moment is nearly there, fire!

Being ready is a matter of having a camera habit, good judgement, and, perhaps, good luck too.  Being prepared is a matter of realizing that a shooting opportunity may be afoot and maximizing your chances of capturing it, should it arise, by arranging your equipment to fit an opportunity.  Possessing synchronization is a combination of acquiring a technical skill and subject-area knowledge.  And anticipation is an all-senses-alert waiting game; it is a continuum lasting from a few seconds to several hours (for big-game photographers sitting up in bomas) and it ends each time the shutter is released.


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