How often have you looked at a fleeting moment, lifted your camera only to find that you have missed the shot? The first thing is that you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it as it can happen to anyone. But there are ways that you can ensure you nail the shot more often than not. So, here are 5 tips to help you get your timing right when taking photos.
Know what you are likely to encounter
Not even professional photographers will be able to change all of their settings quickly enough sometimes to capture a fleeting moment. The big difference is that they often already have settings as close to what they need already selected. No, it’s not a crystal ball. It is simply trying to predict what you are likely to photograph. For example, if you are walking along a road where there isn’t much light, you will need to raise your ISO to be able to have a fast-enough shutter speed to capture the action. You may also need to have a wider aperture. So, don’t wait for something to happen before you make the change, get into the habit of adjusting your settings as you move from one environment to another. At least this way you will have a chance of capturing the photos when they arise.
Greater depth of field
There will be times where you won’t have the option of having a greater depth of field by selecting a bigger f-stop number. For example, low light might mean you are forced to select a wide aperture. But if you have some room to manoeuvre, go for a greater depth of field. For example, if you select f/1.8, your focus plain is going to be fairly shallow. That means you are only going to have a very small amount of detail sharp. So, where you are focusing becomes incredibly vital. But if you select f/8, then if make an error in your focus, you may get away with it because of the greater depth of field.
Select the correct focus mode
One of the biggest challenges of getting shots of fleeting moments is focusing correctly. It is much easier to photograph something that is permanent like a building than a person moving. But if you have already selected the best focus mode for that scenario, you’ll have a better chance of capturing the photo. There are generally two main focus modes that you need to use. The first is the Automatic Focus (i.e. AI Focus on Canon cameras). This works by focusing on a point and holding that focus for as long as you hold down the back-focus button or the shutter button halfway. The other main focus mode is continuous focus. This is ideal for scenarios where your subject is moving, and you need the camera to continuously focus on the moving subject. So, for example, a car that is driving towards you. By anticipating what focus mode you need, you’ll have a better chance of capturing that fleeting moment.
Be pro-active rather than reactive
If you have more time to compose your shot and select the right settings, you are more likely to be able to capture it. Seems pretty obvious, right? The thing is that sometimes you can actually do this. It’s like setting a photography trap. Find the right composition and select your settings, and then wait for the right subject to come into the frame. This technique works well in things like street photography where for example you find a good background and can wait for the right person to walk across your shot. Because you already have everything ready in your camera you are more likely to get your timing right.
Shoot in high-speed burst mode
Trying to capture the perfect moment in a photo with one shot will require incredible skill but also luck. By shooting in burst mode you can increase your chances of capturing the perfect moment dramatically. For example, if you are photographing any scene that involves people, how can you be sure your subject has their eyes open? By shooting in burst mode you can select the best moment from the set of photos that you have.
Being able to perfect your timing, is a skill that you will develop over time. The more you shoot the more you will come to realise how to capture those fleeting moments with perfect timing. But as I said at the start, sometimes even the pros miss the shot when something happens too quickly. Live with the knowledge that there will be more opportunities. In the meantime, these tips should help you on your way to improving your timing of photos.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.