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Fire! How to capture those Instantaneous ‘Shoot from the Hip’ Situations (an indepth class)

August 5th, 2012 No Comments

That killer, sparkly-eyed, from-the-heart, smile that flashes for a split-second.  A cat jumping straight up in the air in fright.  Two children at boisterous play; and one suddenly twirls in glee.  Two moving objects colliding and shattering.  Are these examples of ‘lucky shots’? 

Not quite: capturing such photographs  seems to be a knack or a talent that some photographers just have and others don’t.  From a photographic perspective, this kind of shooting is the diametric opposite of, say, still life and portrait shooting and the photographer must mentally orient himself/herself to it accordingly.  This primer covers those situations that are not posed or set up in any way but which occur naturally, of their own accord, and last but a fleeting instant. 

If you have ever thought, “How I wish I could have shot that instant when . . . ,” then this primer is for you.

Shooting from the Hip requires both skill and art

That said, this particular photographic skill is not one that can typically be taught and learnt: shooting instantaneous situations ‘from the hip’ is not an area of photography that lends itself to traditional teaching or learning, or to mechanical, 1-2-3 explanations.  It is part skill, part art that is either acquired by dedication and experience and best imparted by illustrating it with examples; the main objective of this expository article. 

Structure and Overview

The prerequisites are that you must be well grounded in the fundamentals, possess good technique, and be ‘one with your camera’ (it should be an extension of yourself).  Over and above that, to freeze dazzling images in now-or-never situations, the three essential qualities are: Readiness, Preparedness, and Anticipation (and, yes, a bit of luck).  The fourth point, a common thread in all situations, is the acquired skill of Synchronization

We will examine, with examples, each of these qualities and see what can be learnt from each situation, and then look into an additional situation in which all three qualities were engaged to capture a fine photojournalistic image.  One photograph is used to illustrate one essential quality that was the principal factor behind that image being captured, another photograph for the acquired skill, and a fifth for the putting-it-all-together situation.

Without question an element of luck is involved in freezing those blink-of-an-eye events.  But apart from luck, significant skills and technique come into play.  By learning from the examples (below), following some simple guidelines, and adhering to the ‘lessons’ imparted, you can significantly increase your chances of capturing some photographs that will bring you ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.

Read all the Parts – Shoot From the Hip Photography Master Class 


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