FAST AND FURIOUS
Welcome to a beginner’s guide on camera burst shots and bracketing-photography. This will be last of the beginner series, and it will be fast and furious. In this guide, we will be touching on how to photograph the fast-moving subjects using burst (continuous) shots. We shall also discuss bracketing, and how it is good for the lazy graphers.
AN HONEST DISCLOSURE
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Back in the film days, sports and high-speed photography are one of the most expensive to pick up. Just imagine taking hundreds of photos in those days, and having to develop all of them… That will probably burn a hole in your wallet along with maintaining expensive equipment.
These days with the memory card, we can all afford to spam hundreds of photos without blinking an eye. But spamming is not the point of this guide, so let’s get on with how to do continuous shots properly.
I will not go into the specifics of how to setup each camera, since they are all different. But setting your camera into burst (or continuous) mode should be a breeze, in general :
- Nikon users, there should be a “continuous low” or “continuous high” shoot mode on your camera.
- Canon users, it is “continuous burst mode” under the “drive” menu.
- Sony users, it is also “continuous shooting” under the “drive” menu.
FRAMES PER SECOND (FPS)
Before you get too excited about firing your camera like a machine gun, you need to know that there are limitations to the speed and number of shots. Every camera is built different, and definitely does not have infinite capacity.
The first thing you need to know is frames per second, and it simply means the number of photos the camera can take per second. Next, cameras need time to save photos into the memory card. As at the date of writing, a few cameras are actually capable of saving in a split second, as fast as the photos are being taken – Which means it can (technically) take infinite continuous burst photos.
Apart from those few good cameras, most cameras will stop in the middle of a long string of continuous shots. Since the camera cannot catch up with the saving process, and will halt the burst shots for some time.
USES OF BURST MODE
Burst mode is commonly used in high-speed photography, or what I call “spray and pray”. A classic example will be taking a photo of a balloon bursting at the right moment. It will probably take a superhuman to catch the right timing with a single shot, thus the use of burst shots and hope that one hits gold.
TIPS ON USING BURST MODE
There really isn’t a secret to using the burst mode. Just switch to continuous and fire away. But here are a couple of tips to capturing high-speed photography :
- Use a fast shutter speed to “freeze motion”.
- Use the back focus button if you are attempting to shoot a moving subject.
- If not, use a focus trap.
- In the case of the bursting balloon or planned splashes, pre-focus on the spot and switch to manual focus.
For this section, we shall discuss bracketing, which is a shooting mode that is loosely related to burst mode. Just what does it do, why is it related to burst mode, and how does it help the lazy people? Let’s find out.
WHAT BRACKETING DOES
Bracketing takes photos at various exposure values that you can set. For example, first shot at EV+0, second at EV+1, and third at EV-1. Which is basically a “just right”, “over-exposed” and “under-exposed” photo, without you manually changing the settings 3 times. (Yes, it can also do 5, 7 or 9 shots at different EV).
HOW BRACKETING TIES IN WITH BURST SHOTS
Some of you smart photo ninjas should be able to connect the dots now. In the single mode, it is somewhat of a hassle to do bracketing :
- Frame and focus on the subject.
- Take a shot.
- Refocus on the subject.
- Take another shot.
- Refocus yet again…
- Take more shot.
Burst mode allows you to quickly get all the frames that you need in a single swoop.
USES OF BRACKETING
Bracketing is what I like to call “lazy exposure spray and pray”. For example, some event photographers don’t have the time to manually change their settings on the spot, and thus they shoot in auto. Now we all know that auto will not always give you 100% accurate exposures, and this is where bracketing shines in giving better chances of capturing more useful shots.
The other use for bracketing is for HDR Photography, which is another subject on its own. Read my other guide if you are interested.
We have come to the end of the tutorial, and the end of the beginner series. But for you, it’s only the beginning. Having read all of these is no use if you don’t put them into use. Knowledge needs to be completed with experience. So go out, and enjoy shooting. If you have questions, please feel free to comment below.