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on Nov 26, 2013 in Aviation

That One Click Might Take 29+


A common question I’ve been receiving recently has to do with the image I post. The majority of the time, it’s about the action shot and how I get all the elements I desire in just one click. The most common question is, “Do you previsualize the photo?” Yes and no is the honest answer. The light, gesture and color are very much previsulaized but the most important element in this famous formula, gesture, often requires the motordrive (I know, we technically don’t have motordrives but I’m an old fart) to capture. I’ve post a typical example of what I’m talking about to explain my “technique.”


We’re over the Galveston Bay with Ray’s gorgeous T6 and as you can see, its yellow could be seen half a globe away. We’re flying near sunset (remembering the sun sets later at 500AGL than is does on the surface) to take advantage of that soft light. Than there is the gesture which comes from two separate elements that we want to combine into one photo. The subject itself has gesture in it’s wing position, prop blur and how it is placed in the frame. At the same time there is the background which either plays to the gesture of the subject or does not. In this example, you look at the Photo Mechanic light table view, you’ll see I blasted over 29 images on this pass. This is one of the MAIN reasons I shoot with the D4 loaded with Lexar 128GB CF card (lens was 80-400VR3. The D4 loaded with that big ass Lexar card permits me to lay down the hammer and capture at 11FPS this six seconds of the flight and than back in Photo Mechanic, select the ONE photo that represents the light, gesture and color creating the best capture. You see, when action is happening this fast, for me at least, it is really hard to see THE image, tell my finger to push the shutter release and the camera to actually capture THE photo. That small spear of land in the background, the slight tilt of the wing and placement in the frame comes together in just the four of the frames (you can see them tagged in red). So the image was previsualized in a sense, set up for success but it took the gear and finally the photographer’s eye to make the one image come to life. What if you don’t have this experience, this gear or this opportunity, are you screwed? Hell no!

By knowing the possibilities, you know a direction to head with your photography. And by understanding by putting in your time (in my case over 25yrs), you put yourself in the position to have these opportunities. By being aware of these techniques, you start to practice now so when the opportunity is in front of your lens, you’re ready to take advantage of it. In my case, my decades shooting wildlife and landscape exercised my mind’s eye for this shoot of a T6 over the gulf. It’s all powered by passion, something that comes from within and is shared through THE photo.