Letting subjects dictate technique
The past few weeks have been hectic. The holidays are fast approaching, I’m moving to a new apartment in San Francisco and I’m getting more and more work shooting. Nearly 8 months after deciding to devote myself to my photography and the outdoors, I’m beginning to make a living with my skills without setting foot in an office. Each day there are new mountains to climb–both literal and figurative– but looking back over the past few months, real progress is being made.
This past week after sitting at my desk editing scores of photos and organizing my boxes for the move, I got out away from the computer and headed out to Crissy Field to shoot some kiteboarders and get some fresh air. My surfing partner, Paul, is a kiter and with the big Santa Ana’s that blew last week, he was interested to see how things looked on the Bay.
We didn’t make it out til sunset and we arrived to quickly fading light. I took a few shots attempting to freeze the fast moving athletes in their surroundings, but my ISO was so high, 6400, that noise and soft edges made the shots distracting and unappealing.
After a few more mediocre shots and remembering that I had forgotten my tripod to shoot landscapes, frustrated, I nearly put the camera away. Then I thought more about my subjects, what they were doing and what made the scene special and fun to watch: the high winds and fast moving athletes. To bring this feeling out of my images, I didn’t need a fast shutter speed; I needed a slow one, a steady hand and some luck.
I changed gears and began shooting:
Eventually, I lost all usable light and the grain from the high ISO came back into the equation. I shot a few more frames, then packed up and called it a day, stoked for a fun afternoon of shooting and glad that I had taken pause to reflect on the scene and switch up my technique to better communicate what drew my eye to the scene.