Placing action in a chosen space
Sometimes you know exactly where you’d like to slot a moving subject within the scene, often because there’s a gap that you’ve spotted. There’s usually some hoping involved, as the universe doesn’t always conform to how we’d like things to look. In this example, I was in a Mandari cattle camp in South Sudan, where young men and boys live with the cattle for part of the year, outside their village. Cattle play an important economic, as well as cultural, role, and are prized for their horns. There were many good photo opportunities, and at one point I spotted this boy untying a calf. I realised he would lead it somewhere, and my eye went ahead to scout out possibilities. To my left, nearer me, was a bull with a fine pair of horns, though its head was turned to the left and they didn’t yet make a frame. But maybe it would turn to look at the boy as he passed, in which case they would. So, two kinds of anticipation: of the action itself, and of how the lines and shapes might come together in the frame. I needed to be in position to take advantage of it, so I stepped forward and to the right, adjusted the focal length to 120mm and set an aperture of f/8 to give just enough depth of field.
What I hoped would happen, with the boy walking behind the large horns (top). The actual sequence, with the boy walking as anticipated, and the bull turning its head (bottom). The final shot, with the boy framed by the horns (right).