Monday, June 27, 2011

Action and Adventure

Yesterday I headed out to Kananaskis for an "Action and Adventure" photography workshop taught by Brad Wrokbleski.  On the agenda was biking, hiking and kayaking.  The models/talent sure got a workout!  The poor women mountain biking had a VERY steep hill that they kept coming down and then walking back up.

The one thing I hate about courses and workshops is that I can't seem to get past more than one or two suggestions.  My mind starts to fixate on those and drops all other bits of information.  This isn't a problem if the tidbit I focus on is a big one, but can be kind of annoying if it is a pretty minor point.

1/40 sec, f/22

And this time, it was a fairly big suggestion.  At least in terms of how I shoot.  He suggested I focus manually - even on moving subjects.  I have to be honest.  I've never taken even still photos with manual focus, the thought of doing it with moving subject seems impossible.  I know at least one "Flickr Friend" that does it (Hi Anda!) but I always thought she was a little nuts.  ;)

His reasoning makes perfect sense - you can change up your composition on the fly and not have to worry about where the "focus dot" on your camera is in relation to the subject you want in focus.  He thinks it is hard to keep the focus dot on your moving subject (I disagree - I can do this with out too much issue) but he has a point about the composition.  You can't go from a subject being in focus on the left, the middle and then the right without stopping to make adjustments and by then, the action you are trying to photograph is probably over.  So manual focus would help for example when dogs start getting the zoomies and are running in every which direction OR when things get in front of them - long blades of grass for example.

But damn I lost a lot of cool looking photos due to lack of focus yesterday.  But that is OK.  What I am going to do with a bunch of kayaking pictures anyway?  When I nailed it, it was very satisfying, like in the photo above.  And I don't mind practicing on the girls either, because really, don't I have enough photos of them to last 8 lifetimes?  :)  One of my biggest hurdles (other than actually getting things in focus) is to not follow the subject around with the little focus dot anyway.  I couldn't stop myself and it was kind of defeating the purpose!  If anyone knows how to make that dot disappear on a canon, I'd love to know.

The other thing we did a fair amount of was slow shutter speeds.  So panning or just keeping the camera still while action moved in front of us.  This was particularly fun when a kayaker got "stuck" in the eddy as you could blur out the moving water, while they stayed relatively still.  But looking through a stack of photos that are blurry from my lack of focusing ability AND blurry from a slow shutter speed was painful! LOL.  I can't wait to get Coulee in the river to see if I can make some of those tricks work for her.  I think it would be a cool effect in tall blowing grasses too.

1/30 sec, f29
I could have just sat and watched the kayakers all day.  That alone would have made the day worth it.

1/40 sec, f18


Wild Things Grow Here said...

Great photos!

onecollie said...

the kayaking photos are amazing !!!

Anda said...

LOL - that's true, I'm a little nuts :)))) But I wouldn't try manual focus on action with an AF lens on. Well, I tried, but it wasn't worth it.

I really like the panning shot of the bicycle.

Anda said...

Forgot to mention - to make the focus dot go away when manually focusing, just turn it to zone focusing, you know, the big bracket...

I found the dots terribly distracting when using my manual lenses, as I was trying to focus on that particular spot instead of just looking at the entire image and deciding where I want to focus.

Unknown said...

Wow, you took a big leap and it worked out! Splendid pics:)