Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Photo Tip: Capturing Fleeting Moments
Anticipating the action and pre-focusing (at the bottom of the slide, for example) can help you capture the excitement at the end of the ride.
One of the most common complaints I hear about digital cameras is that it is impossible to photograph children because of the delay from when the shutter button is pushed to when the camera actually records the picture. This delay is called shutter lag and can be maddening when trying to photograph children (or other fast moving subjects). I had to use an old digital point-and-shoot camera on our recent trip to San Francisco and got lots of shots of the back of Ethan's head and Ethan walking out of the picture (I was so frustrated I bought a new one as soon as we got home).
Here are a few suggestions to help reduce shutter lag:
Turn your camera on before you need it.
Pre-focus: Press the shutter button half way down and hold (this allows the camera to focus, but does not take the picture). Wait for the right moment then push the shutter button the rest of the way down. Note: if the subject has moved closer to or further from the camera, you may have to refocus.
Anticipate the action: Try to anticipate where your moving subject will be when you want to take a picture. Pre-focus on that area and be ready to push the shutter (press a little sooner than usual). If you want your child to be looking at the camera, position yourself in front of her, pre-focus, then get her attention and press the shutter button. If you let your subjects know when you're going to take the photo by counting down from three, press the shutter on "one" and keep counting to three.
Better yet, don't worry about posing, smiling or looking at the camera, just capture your child doing her thing.
Get a faster memory card: Your camera may not take advantage of the fastest memory cards available, but slower cards can definitely slow down the recording of your pictures, increasing the amount of time before you can take another picture.
Turn off the display: Instead of using the display on the back of the camera to compose and review your pictures use the optical viewfinder and edit your pictures later on your computer. The camera will be a bit faster since it does not have to recreate the picture on the display and you will conserve the battery allowing you to take more pictures.
Charge (or replace) the batteries: Cameras need power to reset the sensor, focus on the subject and record the picture. Batteries that are low can slow down the process. Batteries can go bad after years of use. If yours isn't holding a charge for very long, it may be time to buy a new one.
Upgrade: There is only so much that these tips can do to decrease shutter lag. If you have an old digital camera, it may be time upgrade. Digital cameras have gotten much faster over the last couple years. Need help choosing a new camera, check out our list of camera review sites. These sites can help you choose the right camera for your budget and needs.