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Readiness: Shoot From the Hip Photography Part 2

August 5th, 2012 No Comments

One evening I saw my dog Rusty regally stretched out on a petal-strewn section of a patch of grass in our compound.  I went indoors, got my camera and flash, returned to my dog and, murmuring affectionate words to try to get that happy expression dog-lovers know so well, took a photograph.  Half-a-second later, taken with the attention and affection, my dog did something she would seldom do: she started to roll around on the petal-strewn grass; an opportunity for a pretty shot that cannot be posed or set up. 

Though, with camera in hand and at the right distance from the subject, I was ready to shoot, I was not prepared for the shot:  my flash, low on juice, was still recycling so I was out on a limb in the evening light.  I did not even have my dog in the viewfinder, having let go of my camera so that it was hanging by its strap.  And clearly I had not anticipated it otherwise I would not have spent my flash on what was basically a ‘posed’ shot.

I did not wait for the flash to recycle; using the ambient evening light and going with AE, I snapped at  what I tried to make the right instant.  As it happened, in my excitement (Rusty was doing something she rarely did) and the low shutter-speed I got, I was not steady enough to notice the camera shake.  At the same time, the low shutter speed (and lack of flash!) fortuitously introduced a sense of motion in the image, while I did get reasonably good focus square on Rusty’s face.

Had I waited for the flash to recycle, thinking, “any second now,” I would have ended up missing the moment (or freezing Rusty without any blur or sense of motion).  Because I was ready (by chance) and, for the most part, made the right instantaneous decisions, I got a cute, somewhat comical, photo of my pet.

The lesson to be learnt is that you cannot even be prepared for, let alone anticipate, every good split-second shooting opportunity.  And if you spend any time to get that perfect shot, you may well lose the fleeting opportunity.  If you’re just camera-ready, then simply use your instincts, talent, and experience to make the most of the moment.  When you’re faced with the now-or-never moment, forget the photographic details  point, if necessary hold off a split-second for that precise moment, and shoot.

Read all the Parts – Shoot From the Hip Photography Master Class 


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