Bounce into action
Take control of your shutter and reveal movement in your stills photography. Jason Parnell-Brookes shares a technique that will come bouncing back in many of your future shoots
Time your shutter precisely to capture a bountiful bucket of bouncy balls in motion
Here’s a fun project to sink your teeth into: make a vibrant bouncing bonanza at home using colourful rubber balls. There’s no need to buy props (besides the balls), and you don’t need a special flashgun. What’s more, you can do this tutorial at home or in a studio. And if you don’t have many rubber balls, we’ve even got a way around that for you.
It can be hard to demonstrate movement in a still image. But with a continuous light or two, we’re going to ‘drag the shutter’ – slow the shutter speed – until we capture some motion blur in the balls, while keeping others tack-sharp so it’s clear what they are. Sound impossible? Good, then let’s see how it’s done.
1 Don’t stop shooting
Be ready to snap as soon as the balls are dropped. Hold the shutter release down in burst mode and keep going until there are no balls left.
2 The still element
Do: get some interesting objects to pour your balls over. Don’t: put them all on the same level – stack them on books or blocks of wood to add variety to the height in your image, otherwise you’ll have too much foreground and background.
3 Bright idea
Make your images look more fun and exciting by putting a vibrant backdrop behind the shooting area. It doesn’t have to be a commercial backdrop; some coloured paper will be smooth and even-coloured enough to do the job.
4 constant craving
One or two continuous lights are necessary for this project – flashgun bursts are too quick and you won’t be able to blur the motion of the balls properly. LED lights (if you have them) or even an ordinary desk lamp will be perfect.