Sometimes even clumsy old men like me manage to frame action. I quite like this picture I took last week-end of my daughter impacting the bottom of the pond after loosing her footing on the slippery bottom :
Now you are certainly all in awe of the über-quick action photography skills that yielded this nice aquatic instant. But then you are mistaken – this sort of picture is not really about the reaction time but about anticipation.
I was actually busy portraying the other girl when I sensed Pauline entering the pond and the periphery of the frame. First lesson : even when shooting keep the other eye mostly open so that you remain aware of your surroundings in spite of the viewfinder’s tunnel vision.
I knew that Pauline was barefoot and that on the smooth marble bottom she was bound to slip – and I had no time to stop her. So I just kept my index fully pressed on the shutter button and went cyclic, capturing frames continuously and as fast as my camera would bear. In three seconds I had a dozen frames and only this one worth keeping.
But I no longer care about a keeper’s ratio : a few years ago digital began to erode that notion, but now with thirteen gigabytes in my pocket I have enough memory so that the number of frames I record is no longer relevant at all. Second lesson : if there is even a remote chance that something interesting might happen, shoot first and ask questions later.
If you shoot video, this certainly sounds very familiar and it is : what I am actually doing is shooting a four frames per second video and later choose the frames I like. The purists are probably shuddering at the thought, but nowadays action photography is just video frame grabbing with a lower frame rate.
Photography frame rates are increasing, with the Canon 1D MkIII producing ten 10 megapixel frames per second with live preview, but video definition is increasing too – the Red HD digital video camera produces twelve megapixels at sixty frames per second with quality similar to a modern DSLR albeit at a quite different price point. You may have missed it, but convergence has already happened.
Journalists now have the technical means to produce photo as well as video. Just as people choose to make color or black and white pictures, whether you do it or not will soon be a matter of style, not of technical limits.