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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shoot Without Looking

© 2009 Simon Hucko - view large on black here

Shooting through a crowd of people is hard, and usually doesn't produce very good results. I find I do a lot of cropping in situations like that, and the subject is typically framed by the back of two heads which can be distracting.

The solution? Start shooting without looking through the viewfinder. If you're using a point n shoot or one of the fancy new DSLRs, you've got it made - just make sure the preview is on and raise your camera up. Those of us without live preview have it a little harder - you have to shoot blind and hope you get something usable.

I've been working on this technique lately for a few reasons. The main one is to get above a crowd of people and get a shot of what I want. Today's picture is a perfect example. Everyone was sitting at the ceremony (including me) and I reached up and fired off a few frames. The resulting image looks like I was standing in the middle of the crowd, but this way I didn't make anyone mad (I hope). The key to this is to shoot pretty wide so you can straighten/crop later. A fast shutter speed helps too, since you won't be able to support your camera as well with one arm straight up in the air.

Another reason to work on no-look shooting is to avoid the "camera reaction" from people. Candids are very hard to get, and there are really only two ways to capture a candid moment. The way I usually do it is to have my camera out and up to my face long enough that people stop caring and go about what they were doing. But if you want to grab a quick moment that may not return, you're going to have to shoot people without them knowing. Aiming from your chest and firing off a few shots can return great results. I recommend sharing your pictures with the people afterward, but that's a moral issue and I won't go into that here.

You can also use this technique to get a unique perspective on your photos. Yesterday's post is an example of this - I held the camera low to get a shot from the dog's level. Sure, I could have sprawled out on the dock, but it's faster and easier to be able to do it without looking.

A little practice with no-look shooting can pay dividends down the line. Give it a try next time you're out shooting - it's a great way to add new a perspective to your images.


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