Friday, 27 June 2014

Shoot straight - don't make a mess of it

Six years ago I was  photographer for the Old Mill Theatre's production of Breaker Morant. Then I worked back stage on props and learnt all the main lines. When Harry 'The Breaker' Morant was wrongfully sentenced and faced the firing squad, he requested his blindfold be removed. Then he famously said

  'Shoot straight you bastards, don't make a mess of it.'

India, single shot Fuji S2 pro. 1/15sec @ f11
This post is to help all the ditherers, procrastinators and focus fiddlers. Now, I'm not calling you boring ... but .... continue like this and you could very easily develop a bad case of boringitis. This post is directed towards all those people who play with their food before eating it. For goodness sake, take a mouthful of burger and enjoy it.

I live in the wonderful port city of Fremantle - clean air, clean water and a harbour of seaside cafes and restauarnts. I love Freo, its footy team and the cluster of unwashed photographers.

I was standing on the wharf bidding bon voyage to old friends setting off on a six week cruise to London. The rails were packed with happy faces. waving arms and streamers that spilled down to the wharf. A male photographer a few metres away had his DSLR on a tripod and he was meticulously adjusting apertures, shutter speeds and ISO. He removed on lens and fitted another, then he added a filter or three. By teh time he looked up at QE2 she was at least a hundred metres away into the middle of the harbour. The streamers were broken and soggy in the Indian ocean.  My wharf man scores a 'B' for boring.

Meanwhile, a little old lady with what looked like a Panasonic Lumix TZ20 compact had taken about fifty shots and two or three burst of video capturing all the sound and colour of the departure.

On another occasion I had a lady on a workshop who refused to lift her eyes to the picturesque misty morning riverscape. She kept her eyes down just two inches from her camera. Despite my urging she refused to look at the scene
Celebratory dance after successful balloon landing. Luxor, Egypt. Fuji S5 Pro 14mm Nikkor.  1/125@f11
'not until I understand every single thing about this camera' she said.
She looked as though her nose was araldited to the flash bracket. My river lady gets to wear a T shirt with 'BB' on the front for double boring.

One thing is for certain. You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

To avoid the fiddling you need to organise yourself

  • Get your camera ready to shoot at a seconds notice. 
  • 'Zone' your camera (learn about this in my 'On the Move' workshop)
  • Get yourself and your gear into a position where you can capture action
  • Be confident - shoot now - apologise later
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
General S Patton

Then frame, focus, fire - don't fiddle. And make sure you don't make a mess of it. 

Learn how to shoot straight and quick with Dale Neill in my UWA Workshops

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