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Friday, September 1, 2006

Motion Control

How to turn moving subjects into moving photos

Practice, Practice, Practice

Luck is a matter of, well, luckā€”but it's not a coincidence that the more you practice, the more often you'll get lucky. Another thing that will help you get lucky a lot more often is learning all you can about your subjects. If you want to photograph birds, watch them, read about them, listen to birders and bird photographers you encounter, and practice photographing birds in action. If you want to photograph soccer, watch, read, listen and practice. As your knowledge increases, so will your "keeper" percentage.

If something great happens suddenly, you have to shoot it where it is, from where you are, right now. But often you can check out a location before it's time to shoot. Try to find an attractive, even toned, distraction-free background with clean lighting. It's difficult to properly expose a subject that's moving rapidly past alternating bright and dark background areas. With TTL metering, you'll need minus exposure compensation as the subject crosses the dark areas and plus exposure compensation as it crosses the bright areas to keep the subject properly exposed, and you just can't change exposure comp that quickly while panning the camera. If you must work with an uneven background, set the exposure for dark or light, then shoot when the subject is passing that portion of the background.

Sharp Or Blurred?

You'll generally want a sharp rendition of a moving subject, but not always. A long exposure time can be more effective than a short one with some subjects. For example, shooting a photo of raging river rapids at a fast shutter speed will "freeze" the water and turn all that action into a static image. Put the camera on a tripod and use a long exposure time, and the water will blur into a much more interesting form, while the non-moving portions of the scene are sharply recorded by the stationary camera.


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