10 Habits to Better Photos: #4 Keep Shooting!

They’re only bits.  And the good thing is – they’re nothing like milky minutes – they’re easily re-used tomorrow.  So – keep ‘em rolling.

tea party-1As you might imagine – some folks will disagree – and wax eloquence on the lost art of photography – and that 50 frames ought to be enough for anybody.

That’s OK – but I feel that tools today allow us many advantages over legacy solutions – and the ability to shoot a lot of frames at a reasonably low cost is just one of them.

That said – there may be a time or two where you’re specifically working on a skill – and limiting the frame count will emphasize a point (maybe as part of a class or self-assignment) – but generally – this is the exception – not the rule.

A few tips to keep shooting:

  1. Don’t put your camera away too early.
  2. Don’t turn off your camera until you put it away – just make sure you conserve batteries by setting your camera to turn off automatically  after a minute or two.  With a half-push of the shutter – it ought to be ready to go.
  3. When the assignment is done – take a few more “just for fun”.
  4. jump bull-1If you don’t have time to get the camera to your eye – just shoot from the hip.  Get something on film.
  5. Not everyone does this – but I do it for most everything… Shoot with burst mode ON.  Why?  With people – they may blink.  With landscapes – it may be a bird that decides to swoop through your frame.  With a city fountain – the splash just might be subtly different in each frame.  With city streets – any number of factors may change in a moment.  And then again – there’s a chance you’ll get 3 images that look essentially the same.  That’s OK – it’s those times that the image moves from good-to-great that the habit will pay off.
  6. If you’re shooting sports – this is a must:  burst mode – lots of frames – be ready for just about anything.
  7. The BlackRapid RS-4 is comfortable for carrying your camera at-the-ready – and the “fast draw” feature actually works.

Example 1 (top – protesting crowd):

This shot was taken after I was done shooting – and while I was walking back to my truck.   This scene unfolded – a few snaps – and I just kept walking – trying to make it home in time for dinner.  As it turned out – I snagged one of my better crowd images of the day.

boy-1Example 2 (middle – jumping bull fighter):

This shot of a bull fighter jumping over a charging bull was taken from the hip in a dimly lit rodeo arena at a high ISO on a Canon 20D (24mm lens, f/2.8, 1/200, ISO 1600).  I didn’t even know I had the shot until I uploaded the images that night.  Is it the best rodeo shot I’ve taken?  Technically – no.  Does it matter?  I  don’t think so – this is a great moment.

Example 3 (bottom – portrait):

Friends asked if I could come refresh their family portrait – while at the same time – get some baby pictures of the newborn.  While baby was being tended to – the boys were playing in the front room – and with just the light from the front window – and precisely 0.4 seconds of the youngest son sitting still – out popped this image.  I didn’t even know it was there until I uploaded the batch that evening.

A couple of exercises to help you keep shooting:

  1. Go on a walk – and shoot only “from the hip”.  If you’re going to pull in a good frame – you’ll likely need to shoot a lot of images.  If you’ve never done this before – try a wide angle lens – set to f/8 or so – and get the shutter speed up around 1/250.
  2. If you typically have conservative frame counts – say less than 100 in a shoot – try something new – and go for 500 – or even a 1000 – in a day.
  3. If you get bored shooting – try a new lens or angle – or find something else to shoot – but keep shooting!

2 thoughts on “10 Habits to Better Photos: #4 Keep Shooting!”

  1. Good post, thanks for the great suggestions. Although I agree with most of the posted ideas I find myself dealing with too many pictures on my drive to deal with. Back in the non digital age there was more emphasis on working to get the perfect picture (Composition, light, exposure,…) Since each time you “click” it might cost you some money and time you want to make sure it counts. Nowadays the digital age enables you to be more creative and less afraid of taking bad or average shots, but 300 to 1000 digital pictures for a single event (although “free” at the time were taken) quickly can become overwhelm for me and time consuming to select the only few that are worth pursuing further. And that is without any post process needed. Does any have a good suggestion on how to deal with this?


    1. Charles – good points.

      I think dealing with image storage now – or back in the film days – is a matter of creating a system that works for you. Then – it was shoe boxes (or notebooks – or filing cabinets) – today it’s likely hard drives – or a cloud storage solution. I tend to like the external Western Digital solutions that have dual drives – so that I can configure it with RAID 1 (duplication) as a starting point.

      As for working through 300 or 1000 images – it’s about culling your work to the few that you want to work on – and then only working on those few. Photoshop has Bridge to help with this – I happen to use Lightroom (a brilliant tool) – and there are other solutions are out there that will help you quickly sort through your images (ACDSee – for example).

      Bottom line: having more images to manage will likely require some workflow changes – but I think the results will be worth it.

      Hope that helps. -Jones


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