Capturing Moments

Looking for Randi & Ronnie

Looking for Randi & Ronnie

If you pay attention, fun moments happen often and they're fleeting. My boys are often doing funny things and getting into all sorts of mischief, and I want to be ready to capture those moments. That's the reason I carry my camera everywhere, and at home I always have it at the ready. If you don't have a camera with you, or you aren't prepared to photograph a moment when it happens you'll miss it. As the adage goes - the best camera is the one you have with you.  

The other day, after arriving home from picking up the boys from daycare they wanted to play in the yard, as they often do. When I unlocked the back door they ran outside to play. Timmy enjoys riding his glide bike around the path in the yard, and Mikey loves wagon rides. 

When not on the bike or in the wagon they will curiously investigate the yard. On this day, Timmy found a hole in the fence, and was peaking through it looking for the neighbors two dogs, Randi and Ronnie. Randi is an older Labradoodle around 10 years old and Ronnie is a 6 month old Labradoodle puppy. I can only guess that Timmy was getting puppy licks on his face while he was poking his head through the crack. Yuck!

While Timmy was having fun getting licked by the puppy, Mikey was peaking around trying to catch a glimpse of the dogs. The boys often discover places in the yard that captures their curiosity, and it is at these times that I capture some of my best photos of them.

If you want to test your camera's speed, your proficiency at using it, and your photography prowess then I suggest you start photographing children. It is a challenge to make great photos of kids, and it's guaranteed, if you pay attention to your process, that your skills will improve. You just have to be ready with your camera, know how to use it well, and quickly react to photographic moments.

For this image I set my camera's aperture to f/5.6 at ISO 100 with a shutter speed of 1/400 of a second, and shot at 50mm (Full Frame = 75mm). I chose these settings for two reasons. First, the boys are running around, and I wanted a fast shutter to freeze the action. I set the aperture to f/5.6 to get a deeper depth of field that would keep the shutter speed fast with a low ISO in the bright sunshine.

Focussing modes are another decision you need to make when photographing active kids. I go back and forth choosing which focussing mode is best. I will sometimes set it to single focus, lock it in, then recompose the composition. But with single focus they can move out of the locked in focal point and become blurry. Whereas, when the boys are moving fast I set the camera to continuous focus. This way when they are running around the camera is continuously refocussing, so most of my shots will be tack sharp.

The one thing I rarely do is motor drive the shutter. I don't view that as photography as it's too much "spray and pray". I'd rather capture a nice moment that engages me in the process while creating a lasting memory of that moment.

One of the things I love about this image is that it reminds me of two different scenes. My first thought was something similar to a modern day Huck Finn. The boys are curiously off on their own engaging in mischief. 

The other scene reminds me of the film The Sandlot. Sure, it's not a baseball picture, but it can be two young boys looking through the old broken fence for their baseball in Mr. Mertle's back yard. Though the Labradoodles are far less ominous than Hercules.

Finally, I processed the image in color because I like how both boys are wearing blue. Perhaps if they were wearing different colors I would have gone black and white, but I felt the color added to the interest of this picture. My first reaction to pictures, whether or not I process in black and white, is to make the determination if color takes away from the story, or is somehow distracting. In this case, I thought the color added to the interest with telling this story. The blue also makes a nice contrast against the grey fence.

What's the takeaway? Have a camera with you, always. Once you learn to see photographs everywhere you can't stop seeing them, and you will want to take lots of pictures. The key is to know which moments are photographs and which are just snapshots. Now get out their and practice learning the difference.