With visions of Joe McNally’s firetruck portraits in mind, I set out on a ride-along with the Salt Lake City Fire Department. Now, I didn’t get to rig lights outside the truck, and I wasn’t driving at night through Times Square, but I was hopeful that I might see a picture worth making.
Find a vision
My vision for this portrait appeared in my mind really quickly, and I had about the same amount of time to execute it. As we drove, I noticed the colorful autumn leaves outside the truck, and I realized that if we turned east then the sun would be in a great position to backlight my firefighter. Furthermore, if I used a small aperture I’d get two benefits: A starburst on the sun and a slow shutter speed to blur the outdoor scene.
You can quickly have a vision for a portrait. The more you make pictures, the more ready you’ll be to make a picture on the spur of the moment. You’ll be ready with the settings that will probably work so you can shoot quickly.
Shoot now, chimp later
Once I had the idea for my picture, I got the camera set and then started shooting, and kept shooting. There was no time to stop and look at the pictures and see what I might tweak to perfect it because any second now the truck would turn and the sun would be gone, or the colorful trees would pass.
When you have a quick opportunity to make a picture, make the picture, and then keep making it. Stop and look at your pictures when the time has passed. It’s better to make a picture that may not be perfect than to miss the chance altogether because you’re looking at your LCD.
Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.