Creating unique, thought invoking, photographs is not as simple as you’d think. Finding interesting shots takes visualization, planning, and some luck. Preparation is one of the most important factors one could master, having your equipment ready, knowing how to use it, and being in the right place at the right time. Being in the right place at the right time matters not if you don’t have the right equipment or don’t know how to use the equipment you have.
Settings of the Photograph Above
ISO 800, 85mm, f/10, 1/1600 sec.
The photograph above was a combination of being in the right place at the right time, knowing how to use my equipment, and luck. I awoke from my deep slumber only to read the current conditions of the weather… fog… I jumped out of bed (or rolled, I can’t remember) and put some clothes on before hiking the one mile stretch of road to the beach. I visualized a shot like this in my head, the only difference from the actual shot I took and the one I visualized was the person in my mind was walking instead of riding a bike.
To prepare for this shot I considered all the different variables that were at play, exposure, subject matter, and whether I would be using the tripod or not. Because of the quick movement of the birds and the desire to re-frame my shot quickly I opted for no tripod. When shooting without a tripod it’s important to use a fast shutter-speed, even more so when photographing moving objects like birds. The fog blocked out most of the light so I had to increase my ISO to 800 to allow me to increase the shutter speed to 1/1600 sec.. I decided to put the camera in continuous burst mode in order to catch the fast changes that would be happening in the frame without losing an opportune shot.
Since I had chosen to go handheld instead of using a tripod I was able to quickly re-frame the scene as the bike rider drew close to the birds. It was important to me that I get the birds just as they began to take off so you could get a sense of the reckless abandon the person was feeling as he/she tried to mow them down with his or her bike. I took a total of about 5 shots where the rider was facing the camera and a couple of side profile shots, I liked the one of them riding towards me.
When I visualized the photograph I visualized it in black and white, mysterious and fun. Any time I process black and white I always make sure I have true blacks and whites in the photograph. This can usually be done by a couple of sliders labeled black and white, in Lightroom you can hold down option (on Mac) while adjusting and it will show you once you’ve achieved true black on the screen (and where). Depending on how you shoot (RAW or JPEG) you may need to increase contrast as well as sharpness.
Finding great photographs is hard enough on its own, make sure you are prepared to capture them by familiarizing yourself with your equipment and practicing. The more you practice the more familiar you’ll be with what settings and gear you’ll need for the different variables that may present themselves.