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

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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.

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