Stopping time with a photo has always been a fascinating idea for me. The moments captured between seconds can be truly miraculous. They are the doorways to opening our minds to a new world that exists all around us. But how do you train your eye to stop a moment in time, how do you know when to snap the photo without missing that perfect moment, and when do the best conditions exist?
The Anatomy of the Seconds
Capturing frozen moments isn’t always easy, and it requires a sort of gut communication between your instincts and trigger finger. I’m often asked how I captured a wave before it crashed with the light blended through each watery drop. My response always is “I feel it.” I feel the split second before it happens and this is when you snap away.
I spend a lot of time watching my subject – how it moves, the way it communicates, and every speck of light or darkness reflecting within it. Your eye will become trained to see what it did not before. You begin to see small fragments and textures, beads of light not previously there, or anticipation of action and impact. It is a dedication to learning, observing and taking mental notes to store for later. Training yourself to slow down and allow things to move around you with an observant eye versus moving with it.
Your eye becomes an extension of your trigger finger and your gut. Knowing your subject allows you to feel it, to be in tune and in some way be a part of it. If you are connected you will know how to capture and stop the moments with a photo.
The Best Conditions
What are the best conditions for capturing a moment in time? My opinion and answer to this question is light. Light creates so much depth and magic. Your camera quickly responds to the correct amount of light and it can be manipulated easier.
I tend to love the sunrises just as the sun has risen over the horizon, and sunsets when the soft pinks and oranges melt into the landscape around me. I haven’t learned the art of shooting moonlight or starlight yet but it is a challenge I continually work on as I grow.
Learning how to let light paint your photo is important to a successful photo. My classroom for learning light is to be on location before the sun comes up. This is the same for a sunset. Light changes quickly and you have to be in tune with that change to nail the best shot. Playing with the aperture and shutter speed and their relation to one another is interesting. Having a quick shutter speed with a lower f-stop or a slower shutter speed and a higher f-stop – how do they affect the image? Finding a balance by letting the lens work or pushing its limit still intrigues me and I only get better by letting experience teach me.
Just Having Fun
Every second is about having fun while capturing the magic between these seconds. Study your muse, the conditions, find the movement, see the light, capture the feeling inside and grow your instincts between your gut and trigger finger. Stopping time with a photograph only happens when you can stop yourself and observe each detail, each suspended particle of changing light. How your camera responds when you play with the settings of aperture and shutter speed. I have found
How your camera responds when you play with the settings of aperture and shutter speed. I have found experience to be my biggest teacher and with every photo new knowledge creates new questions. I study my favorite photographers, read their blogs, watch videos, and gain tips to try on my next photography adventure.