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Honing Your Skills – Speed Shooting (NSFW)

Guest Post & Photos by Abba Shapiro

Exposure Mode: Manual exposure Exposure Time: 1/160 F-stop: 2.8 Focal Length: 70 ISO Speed Ratings: 160 Lens Model: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Camera Canon 5D Mark III Model: Rhus
Exposure Mode: Manual exposure
Exposure Time: 1/250
f-stop: 2.8
Focal Length: 200 MM
ISO Speed Ratings: 320
Lens Model: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Camera Canon 5D Mark III
Model: Rhus

I was running a lighting workshop where we were using natural light (augmented by reflectors and strobes) and noticed that many of the newer photographers were suffering from the same problem. They would walk into a room, get an idea, pose the model, fidget with their camera settings, shoot, fidget some more with their settings, the light would change, they would reposition the model, fidget, shoot, sigh. Reposition, move a reflector, fidget, shoot, sigh. You get the point.

They never got the shot, the model never knew what was going on, and a lot of time and beautiful light was wasted.

The Speed Shooting Solution

I came up with an exercise for them to keep them organized, focused, and teach them to think on their feet. I do this exercise myself to keep sharp. Think of this exercise as doing wind-sprints to prep for a race.

Speed Shooting It is kind of like Speed Chess where you have only 5 minutes of play you think, make a move, and stop the clock which in turns activates your opponents clock – you either win the game by beating your opponent or having your opponent run out of time before you do.

Here is how Speed shooting works.

You give yourself a finite amount of time say 5 minutes.

You have three objectives

  1. Walk in to a location and assess the light and angles determine your shot and stick to it.
  2. Light or compose you image test the light with a meter or by shooting with and with and without the model (but no posing, you are just testing how light reflects off their skin and clothes.) Make any necessary adjustments to your camera settings and test again.
  3. Only then, once everything is ready position the model and shoot.

All of this needs to be accomplished in 5 minutes after 5 minutes STOP no matter what. Maybe you got a great shot maybe you burned 5 minutes. It doesn’t matter. Each time you do this you get better and better at assessing the best angles and light in the first minute. Doing the best job lighting and adjusting your cameras settings (or not) in the second 2 minutes. Finally in the time remaining, you work with your model.

A Real-World Scenario

You can never trust the sun when it comes to lighting. The sun waits for no oneso if the light is perfect you need to be ready shoot. This day was fairly cloudy, but there was a break in the clouds and I saw beautiful light shining through the curtains on to the floor.

test-shot_MA0A0590
Test shot_MA0A0590
Exposure Mode: Manual exposure
Exposure Time: 1/160
f-stop: 2.8
Focal Length: 70
ISO Speed Ratings: 160
Lens Model: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Camera Canon 5D Mark III
Model: Carpet

Instead of waiting for the model to get into position and then figuring out my shot and camera settingsI immediately started adjusting and testing the light and my framing on the empty carpet. I knew exactly where I needed her to be for the shot.My f-stop was locked at 2.8 and I fired off a half dozen imagesadjusting my focal length and balancing shutter speed and ISO. As quickly as the sun appearedit vanished back behind the clouds. As I think back the whole event lasted less than 5 minutes.

RHUS_MA0A0593 Exposure Mode: Manual exposure Exposure Time: 1/160 F-stop: 2.8 Focal Length: 70 ISO Speed Ratings: 160 Lens Model: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Camera Canon 5D Mark III Model: Rhus
RHUS_MA0A0593
Exposure Mode: Manual exposure
Exposure Time: 1/160
f-stop: 2.8
Focal Length: 70
ISO Speed Ratings: 160
Lens Model: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Camera Canon 5D Mark III
Model: Rhus

The Lesson Learned

I am all for spontaneity when shooting but trying to do 3 things in random order and changing directions midway is usually exhausting and unproductive.

Do this exercise often. Then when the time comes that you have an hour or more to shoot, you won’t waste time and frustrate the model fidgeting. You’ll end up with better shots, and more of them. This exercise will also hone you skills and improve your reaction time when shooting events and capturing those once in a lifetime moments.

Try it see how much more efficient your shooting becomes and how quickly you get images you will be proud of.


 

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