Quit Missing the Moment

davey-blowing-dandelionFor many photographers, a regular source of frustration is missing that one chance to get an amazing picture. I would love to be able to tell you how to make sure you never again miss the one in a million shot. I can’t. Photography is full of variables, many of which the photographer has absolutely no control over. What I can do is give you two simple tips that will go a long way to helping you capture the moment, whenever it happens.

The most obvious reason photographers don’t get the once in a lifetime shot is simple, they don’t have a camera with them. Take your camera with you, everywhere. Many cameras today are small enough to put in your pocket or purse, so you have no real good reason not to carry the thing with you. I shoot with a Nikon digital SLR. I need a decent sized suitcase to keep my lenses, flashes and other gear. I still try to take the camera everywhere. You never know when the moment will happen. Why go home kicking yourself because you didn’t even have your camera with you?

Another reason photographers miss the moment is poor timing on the action. To me one of the most frustrating things about shooting with most consumer point and shoot digital cameras is the lag between when you press the button and the picture is taken. Just imagine all the great shots you would have had if the camera had actually taken the picture when you pushed the button. Believe it or not, the manufacturers did not do that just to irritate you. There are several really good and necessary reasons for this delay. If you are shooting in anything but full manual mode, the camera has to make many decisions. It has to look at the scene, measure the intensity and type of light, focus on something, determine and set the appropriate settings and then finally take the picture. The best of us would take a lot longer than a couple seconds to work all that out. I guess we can cut the camera some slack, but I still don’t like it. However, there is a very simple way to work around this lag. Grab your camera and take a picture of anything, but don’t just jam the button down, push it down gently. Did you feel the button catch about halfway down? That point is where the magic happens. So if you want to catch a picture of in the middle of the action, get your camera ready, point it at the spot or person, and push the shutter button halfway down. The camera will go ahead and do all the work. Keep holding that button until you are ready to snap the picture. Now the camera should take the picture as soon as you push the button the rest of the way down. That means you can focus on your grandson as he prepares to kick, hold the shutter button halfway down, follow him to the ball and push the button the rest of the way just as he is about to make contact with the ball. You should catch the shot as his foot hits the ball.

There is still a skill in learning the timing, but that just takes practice. The more you try this and the more pictures you take with your camera the better you will know how it is going to respond. You will learn how much you need to anticipate to get the shot right. Keep your camera with you, get the camera ready for the shot , snap at the right moment and you’ve gone a long ways towards increasing your odds of getting the shot you want.


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