Shooting People Part 7: Get Moving

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part FourPart Five & Part Six

There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept. – Ansel Adams

While I certainly am not qualified to debate photography with Saint Ansel, I actually think he could have shuffled things around a bit and come up with a more accurate assessment.   My take would be more along the lines of “There is nothing better than a fuzzy image of a brilliant concept.” Far too often, photographers worry more about sharpness than content in their images.  I most certainly am guilty of this myself.  I have long ranted about an overemphasis on sharpness when it comes to lenses, but it is even more true when it comes to actual photographs.  The sharpness of a photo is rarely directly related to the quality of that photo.

What I am talking about is not blurred photos due to bad technique, or inappropriate shutter speeds, but of photos that are at least partially blurred because of movement in the photo (and sometimes from the camera as well).

What blur does very effectively is to infuse movement into what can’t help but be a still photo.  Once you are capturing movement, you are catching something that is happening, an event, not just a static scene.

Continue reading

Shooting People Part 6: Getting Closer

I have had this on hold for far too long.

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four & Part Five

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough – Robert Capa

One Eye on the Photographer
Yangon, Myanmar

Capa’s truism has been so often repeated it has become a cliché. What is hasn’t done though is to become well enough understood. Too many people still think that what it all boils down to is that you should “fill the frame”, or not leave too much empty space in your photos. These same people are still the ones who recommend long telephoto lenses as the best tools for taking portraits. Really, I think they are wrong on both accounts.

While I don’t really want to focus on technical details, at least some understanding needs to be made of perspective. Many people assume that if you use a telephoto lens and shoot so that the person you are shooting covers a certain proportion of the frame, you will end up with the same photo as if you used a wider angled lens and got close enough so that the person is taking up the same amount of real estate on the photo. This is wrong, and the reason it is wrong is due to perspective. As simply put as I can make this, perspective means that when you are very close to someone, they appear large in the frame (duh!), but while they are very large, things in the background look to be very small. This has everything to do with physically how close you are to the person you are shooting and nothing to do with whether you were using a telephoto lens or not.

Buying Meat
Taipei, Taiwan Continue reading