Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday, July 14th

Good morning everyone! What a weekend! I was covering the National championship AAU basketball tournament all weekend since we didn't have a wedding scheduled. I got to take lots of photos of some of the best female basketball players from around the country, and for the most part it went great. There were a couple of unfortunate accidents, and injuries but all in all it was a good tournament. Unfortunately, this type of photography doesn't lend itself to creativity very well. I mean, you're looking for an action stopping shot so that people can see the player and what's going on. With the lighting I had(which was pretty good) I was in the neighborhood of ISO 1250, 1/400th of a second, f/2.8. Positively blahhhh. I was bored. So I backed my lens all of the way out to 17mm, sitting right under the basket during a "free throw", and drug the shutter to make the shot above. Now normally to get anything in focus when you drag the shutter, you have to hit the subject with flash, but not here. This was a special circumstance because I knew that the shooter would stay still for slightly longer than the rest of the pack. As soon as the ball left the shooters hands the other girls attempted to "box out" each other in order to get the rebound, but the shooter was following through with her shot so that kept her in the same basic position for a fraction longer. This creates the illusion that she is frozen but that there is movement all around her. the exposure was this 17mm ISO 1250, 1/15th of a second shutter speed, f/11. So how you ask do you accomplish this look? read on....

First thing's first, you have to determine how you want to control your camera. You can use any setting(manual, shutter priority, or aperture priority) but the key is to get the shutter to be longer. My suggestion would be to use shutter priority if you don't have a solid grasp on the elements that go into an exposure yet. So in shutter priority you would set your shutter speed. The speed you want to choose is going to vary depending on how fast your subject is moving, and how much blur you want behind them. For the girls that were playing basketball, 1/15th was fast enough but they really weren't moving "that fast". If you were taking a picture of someone that was say dancing you could probably get the same effect with 1/30th of a second. You really need to play around with the shutter speeds to get down what speed works best for you. Next you have to be able to hold the camera still for that period of time. 1/30th isn't too hard, but if you're doing an exposure of 1 second or more, you may get some camera shake. Now the next part is simple, press the shutter... What'd you get? Too much blur, not enough in focus? Make the exposure a little faster. Too much in focus, not enough movement, or blur? Make the shutter longer. Now, how do you keep anything in focus but still get the blur to show movement? Flash.

The first thing that we need to talk about before we talk about anything else is your "curtain" setting. By this I mean the setting on your camera that places it in either Front, or Rear curtain sync. You want rear curtain. I live in rear curtain, here is why. When your camera is in front curtain, the flash goes off as soon as the shutter opens. At higher shutter speeds(say 1/250th) this is fine. You won't even notice a difference. When the shutter gets slower (say 1/30th) it is very noticeable. What happens with front curtain when your shutter gets that slow is trails of blur, but in the wrong direction. You "freeze" the person with flash at the first part of the exposure then in the rest of the frame they are moving out of that frozen spot and creating a blurred trail where they're walking to instead of where they're walking from. With Rear curtain, the exact opposite happens. The shutter opens, and right before it closes the flash "pops". This will create a blurred trail behind the person and then "freeze" them in their final position. This is what you want. It looks more natural, and it creates a sense of motion. This is why I live in rear curtain. I want the subject to look natural, and show movement in a natural way, not like they are in the Matrix.

So now, how do you do this. Well basically you set your shutter speed, make sure you're on rear curtain, get a firm "correct" hold on the camera, and snap away. This is a fun way to show the movement of a bride on the dance floor, or a flower girl coming down the isle. It's also something that you may want to play with doing when you've been shooting basketball for 6 hours solid and are bored with action stopping shots. :~)

Have a good day everyone. See you back here tomorrow for some industry news, and a photoshop tutorial. Jason

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