Timing is Everything

Last weeks feature photograph briefly discussed the art of timing.  Many people have asked me how I capture certain expressions, events, or moments in time.  I’m accused of being able to see the future!  It’s nothing like that.  The simple truth is its 95% technique, and 5% predicting what will happen by studying the subject.

Laughing Lady

The above picture shows an excited vender at the floating market with her mouth wide open in laughter.  Much more interesting of a photograph then if she was showing less emotion or animation.  How did I capture this exact moment?

The answer is surprisingly simple.  I sat there observing her for about ten minutes and observed her personal habits.  This wouldn’t be unlike watching a dog catch a Frisbee, you observe, you learn the sequence of events likely to take place, and then you use a tried and tested technique to effect the capture.  In this case I watched her serve about 15 customers.  With a few of them I noticed if the customer was friendly and animated she’d also become friendly and animated.

I set the camera to continuous shooting at 4.5 fps, framed her with my 70-200/2.8 IS zoom, braced and focused, and waited.  When a customer approached her and I noticed her face start responding I held down the shutter button and shot approximately 8 frames in 2 seconds.  In those 2 seconds her face completely changed from all business, to a huge open mouth smile, and back again.  All you do is go through the frames and select the most pleasing image.  That’s all there is too it.  You can use this technique for people, sports, news events, weddings, or just about and all there is too it.  Learn your subject, set up the shot, and wait for the moment.  Below are the 8 frames in sequence, you can see how easy it was for me to select the shot above.

Other shots taken of the same lady