PHOTO SKILLS: SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND
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
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.
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)