Warmer Weather plus chil­dren equals hours in the park, so make the most of it by prac­tis­ing tech­niques that help cap­ture the fun. caroline sch­midt shows you one that Will make your head spin

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents -

Caroline Sch­midt gets in a spin, all in the name of cap­tur­ing fun images of chil­dren at play

Cam­era: nikon d810 / Lens: nikkor af- s 16- 35mm f/ 4g

There are few plea­sures in life more en­joy­able than play­ing with your chil­dren or grand­chil­dren – ex­cept for when it comes to pho­tograph­ing your kin, so what bet­ter way to while away an af­ter­noon than to com­bine the two. a trip to the park is a per­fect way to ex­pend some en­ergy, get some ex­cite­ment and in­vig­o­rate your pho­tog­ra­phy skills. Young chil­dren rarely stay still for long, so prac­tis­ing your fo­cus­ing tech­niques is a must for get­ting sharp shots.

Whether it’s kick­ing a foot­ball, fly­ing to­wards you on a swing or rid­ing a bike, they all re­quire slightly dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to en­sure you cap­ture the ac­tion cre­atively. Know­ing what set­tings and tech­niques suit a sit­u­a­tion is the first step – for in­stance, if your sub­ject is mov­ing in un­pre­dictable ways or trav­el­ling to­wards the cam­era, you’ll likely want to use con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus to track move­ment and pos­si­bly shoot a burst of frames to heighten your chances of a sharp shot. If you’re plan­ning to pan your cam­era par­al­lel to your child to cap­ture move­ment, then you’ll also need to play around with the length of your shut­ter speed so not to freeze the ac­tion. There’s so much you could do to fill a day at the park.

For this tu­to­rial, we need you to get in the mid­dle of the ac­tion – but it’s not for any­one with a weak stom­ach! By hold­ing steady and mak­ing your cam­era move at the same speed as your sub­ject, in this case while on a merry- go- round, you should be able to cap­ture them in fo­cus whilst cre­at­ing mo­tion blur in the back­ground for the ap­pear­ance of high speed. You’ll need a third per­son to pull the merry- go- round and then quickly move far enough away so they don’t get ren­dered as streaks in the frame. There’s a lot of trial and er­ror in­volved: the speed at which you’re trav­el­ling, your cho­sen shut­ter speed and whether your­self and sub­ject can hold steady – but one thing’s for sure, you’re go­ing to have a lot of fun try­ing!

1 Choos­ing your kit Merry- gor­ounds vary in size and style, but gen­er­ally once you and your sub­ject sit down a safe dis­tance from the edge, you’ll find there’s not much space be­tween your lens and them. If that’s the case, you’ll need a wide- an­gle lens – prefer­ably one that of­fers enough field- of- view to in­clude half the merry- go- round for con­text ( aim for 24mm or wider). I’ve used a Nikkor AF- S 16- 35mm f/ 4G and tried to com­pose my sub­ject in the cen­tre of the frame to limit vis­ually stretched limbs.

2 Cam­era set tings Set your cam­era to shut­ter- pri­or­ity mode, Auto White Bal­ance and spot me­ter­ing. By us­ing spot me­ter­ing and ex­pos­ing for the skin you may in­crease your chances of a cor­rectly ex­posed im­age as the light changes around you. Even bet­ter would be to use man­ual ex­po­sure mode to keep all frames con­sis­tent. You may find us­ing back- but­ton fo­cus­ing helps to keep your shots sharp but also try to an­chor your­self to re­duce the risk of cam­era move­ment.

3 shut­ter speed The re­sults you get de­pend on two fac­tors: the speed at which the merry- go- round is mov­ing and the shut­ter speed you set. You’ll also need to con­sider how steady you can keep the cam­era as you move so not to in­tro­duce cam­era shake. Set­ting 1/ 30sec to 1/ 60sec is a good place to start if you plan to ro­tate at a mod­er­ate speed. I wouldn’t rec­om­mend a set­ting slower than 1/ 30sec, as you’ll in­tro­duce some cam­era move­ment whilst spin­ning as it’s dif­fi­cult to stay steady.

4 Light­ing As you’ll prob­a­bly be dragged to the park early af­ter­noon on a glo­ri­ous sunny day, you need to be es­pe­cially care­ful of your ex­po­sures. The over­head sun is far from for­giv­ing and, within a sin­gle spin, your sub­ject is likely to go from be­ing back­lit, side lit to front lit, which could cause un­der­ex­po­sure, hard shad­ows and blown high­lights, re­spec­tively. Ex­pose for the skin be­fore you set off and set your cam­era to shoot in con­tin­u­ous burst mode so that you can cap­ture mul­ti­ple frames while you’re spin­ning.

5 Fo­cus­ing Set your cam­era to con­tin­u­ous AF. Although the sub­ject is mov­ing par­al­lel to the cam­era, you will find that you both sway mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to re­tain fo­cus, es­pe­cially with a slow shut­ter speed. By par­tially- de­press­ing the shut­ter but­ton be­fore spin­ning, the cam­era should lock fo­cus on the sub­ject and track their move­ment. You could also try man­u­ally fo­cus­ing with the lens set to in­fin­ity. 6 And Away you go… Make sure your sub­ject is hold­ing on tight, ideally with legs crossed to avoid ex­ag­ger­at­ing the size of their feet, which will be clos­est to the lens, and a big smile on their face. Find­ing the per­fect speed will give you win­ning shots: too fast and your sub­ject is likely to pull pe­cu­liar faces; too slow and their calm ap­pear­ance will starkly con­trast with the il­lu­sion of speed you’re cre­at­ing.

front Lit


side Lit

1/ 60sec

1/ 30sec


c Amer A move­ment

dizz y r As­cal! Although they might be shout­ing ‘ faster, faster!’, you don’t have to be quick to cre­ate head- spin­ning shots. Ex­po­sure: 1/ 40sec at f/ 13 ( ISO 80)

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