Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More Lessons than Pictures

FLOP! 2010

I’m not completely unhappy with the pictures I took at the East Coast Surfing Competition. There are a few that I think I’ll look upon fondly six months from now.

But there’s no denying that the day’s haul was more about lessons than results. Like being ready. Like having total command of the camera. And like being able to deal quickly with challenging lighting conditions.

FLOP, above, is a good example. I’d come across these little boys bouncing around on a trampoline that was shoehorned between the bright sky of the beach on side and the shadow from a row of black tents on the other. I position myself in the shadow so that the contrast wouldn’t be as great. When the boys saw me taking pictures they started showing off their various acrobatic tricks.

I made a dozen or so shots before realizing that the safety net surrounding the trampoline was really messing things up. It wasn’t wide enough for me to peek through. It wasn’t light enough to blend into the background with a little selective focusing. It was so dense that getting a decent exposure was even tricky.

Meanwhile, the kids are jumping and laughing and trying their best to out-do each other.

Searching for a solution, I noticed a little gap between the safety net and the trampoline surface and kneeled down to peer through it (doing my best to look like a serious photographer and not a creepy pedophile). There was enough clear space to jam the camera through if I jiggered it just so, but not enough for me to see through the viewfinder.

FLOP outtake 1

I asked the boys to jump again and though I could tell their patience was waning they were kind enough to oblige me. This is where the total command thing comes in. My camera has a feature that allows it to fire off a dozen or so rapid shots before it needs to pause a second to catch its breath. I’ve used the feature so rarely that it didn’t even occur to me to use it then. But as FLOP! shows, I should have used it rather than try to guess when the kids would be in specific mid-air positions that my perspective could catch without having something in the way. These kids were jumping and twisting and somersaulting their little hearts out and all I was getting in my camera were obstructions and distractions.

Next time I encounter kids on a trampoline I’ll be ready. I could kick myself for missing the rambunctiousness of these little boys. But I suppose if I didn't have lessons to learn there'd be no challenge left to this game of photography.

FLOP outtake 2


  1. My entire Flickr photostream is a series of outakes and lessons.

  2. A wise old man once told me that the only day you don't learn something is the the day you aren't paying attention. I still carry the manual for my camera in the bag and it's getting awfully dog eared from repeated use.