Every photographer has been there at some point in their journey. You have spotted that fleeting moment, picked up your camera and thought that you have nailed the shot. But you look back afterwards in disappointment when you see that you haven’t been able to capture it. It might be that you missed the moment. It could be that someone walked across your shot. Or it might just be that your shot is blurred. Whatever the reason, missing that crucial moment is so frustrating as you often won’t get another chance. So to help you, here are 6 tips to ensure you can capture key moments.
You can never know for sure when these fleeting moments will occur, but you can predict when they are more likely to be there. For example, if you are walking around a bustling city like New York, London or even Delhi, the chances are that things will happen. People going about their everyday lives and people interacting with each other is a combination that is likely to produce those unique moments. So naturally, in these situations, you need to be ready to take a photo at any moment. Whereas on the other hand if you are waiting for sunset in a remote location you are less likely to have to rush to take a photo.
The first rule of being able to capture those key moments is to make sure that your camera is on, with memory cards (which are not full), battery and importantly the lens cap off. In addition to this, you should get into the habit of continuously adjusting your settings for the scenario you are in. For example, if you are photographing inside where it’s low light you may have to raise your ISO. But then when you go out into bright sunshine, you will need to adjust this, otherwise, your shots will be overexposed. Rather than waiting for that moment when you are needing to take the photo, do it as soon as you step outside. This will mean you are ready if any photo opportunities arise.
This might seem like an obvious solution, but by becoming faster in your thought process, being able to change settings quickly and executing the shot, you will find yourself capturing more of those unique moments. This isn’t impossible to do. Like anything else, with practice and experience you will find yourself becoming faster in everything that you do when a potential photo opportunity arises. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut for this. You just need to go out and practice these situations over and over again until it becomes second nature to you.
Just walk around your local town or city and aim to capture some of these unique moments. After each shot zoom in on your camera’s LCD screen to check that it is sharp and you have captured the right moment. If you have missed the moment or the photo is blurred, evaluated what you did wrong and try again. Keep repeating this over and over again and you will notice that your mistakes will get less.
Keep both eyes open
A good tip for avoiding getting people, cars, bicycles or anything else walking across your shot is to actually look beyond your main subject when taking the photo. Often in these scenarios, I keep both eyes open looking through the viewfinder with one and glancing around with the other. This is especially useful when photographing something where there is a constant flow of traffic across your shot. By keeping an eye out, you can take the photo at the perfect moment rather than guessing.
Set the “trap” and wait
Usually, things happen in front of you and you have to react quickly. But sometimes the best way to capture those key moments is to actually wait for them to happen. You can set a “photography trap” where you find a potential situation where something interesting might occur and then simply wait for it to happen. For example, if you are photographing in a market, you can compose your image to have the market vendor in the shot and then till he interacts with a customer before you take the photo.
The benefit of doing this is that you can pre-determine your settings and even take a few test shots to make sure that you have got things right. So when the opportunity arises you will be more prepared to take the photo.
Select your settings
This is usually the main question that amateur photographers want to be answered. What settings do I need? Unfortunately, there isn’t one setting that can capture perfect photos in these situations every time. In reality, you will need to determine your settings based on the scenario that you are facing. Everything from the available light to how quickly things are happening will have an impact on your photo. Not to mention your own creative vision of the shot.
The best way to know which settings to use is to understand the basics of photography and know your camera fully. For example in some situations where your subject might be moving around, you’ll want to set your camera to continuous focus. Or sometimes you will need a shallow depth of field because you are just focusing on someone’s face whereas at other times you will need to have a greater depth of field to capture more of the surroundings. One setting that you will find useful is setting your camera to burst mode as you will be more likely to capture that perfect moment. So one of the most important tips to help you capture key moments is understanding the basics of photography and your camera.
Stay focused on the task
Photography can sometimes be infuriating, frustrating and even exhilarating. You might be tired, hungry and even bored. None of these are particularly useful when you are trying to capture that perfect and decisive moment as they can affect your mental focus. This will lead to mistakes and ultimately poor photos. If you need to have a rest, then do so, but make sure you are completely focused on the task. Don’t let your mind wander and keep looking and tweaking the composition to keep yourself alert.
It can be incredibly frustrating when you look at your photo and see that you have missed out on that unique photo opportunity. But you should also be comfortable in the knowledge that regardless of how many times you get it wrong, eventually with practice you will begin to see the number of times that you “nail” that shot improve. So stay positive and most importantly keep shooting!
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.