” How Many Pictures Do You Want? “

” How Many Pictures Do You Want? “

A very good question indeed, and one that needs answering before you press the button rather than after:

a. How many pictures do you need to document the event? If it is a human-wave infantry attack and everyone wants to have a souvenir to send home you could be there for a week. Ditto a school or big corporate dinner. Be prepared with enough batteries, enough chargers, more batteries, a mains lead, and another battery.

Be prepared with enough memory and think whether you would be wise to commit it to a multiple of cards. Not only to back up the images, but to separate them out into easily-processed batches. At the very least decide what system of numbering you’ll use for the shoot; start afresh, break it into batches, or just carry on with whatever the camera is doing at the time.

This latter choice can be fraught. I did just this on an interstate hot rod shoot and the camera in use clocked up to the end of its numbering sequence and decided to quit. I had no idea how to get it to start again until I went into a well-known Melbourne camera shop on a corner in town with a camera museum, no names, no pack drill, and asked them. They knew how to reset it and now so do I.

Had I read the simple manual before I set out…

b. How many pictures are you actually going to get at the event. If it is the landing of a German zeppelin in Lakehurst, New Jersey, expect to run on the lean side and then for your life. You may only get one shot, but make it a good one and Oh, the huge, many, fees…

c. How many pictures does the client want? If it’s a wedding expect to do a lot more shooting than ever you did in the film days…though not necessarily to as careful a standard. You see, when you know you can shoot another shot instantly and ” for free ” you do. You might not line the thing up as well nor look as carefully at the lighting and expressions as you did when you were winding 12 shots through a Hasselblad magazine. You may fall into the mental pit of planning to fix it in Photoshop – when you could fix it on the spot.

If a commercial job has elements of advertising, you shoot until everything that needs to be sold is well-illustrated. You may be helped by an art director, a designer, a graphic artist, the advertising vice president, and the brother-in-law of the firm’s owner while this shoot is in progress. You may also be helped by a pair of noise-cancelling earmuffs and stiff shot of brandy.

If it is art, you shoot until the moment passes. In some cases it gives way to more moments, and the creative sequence just goes on. In others it passes in 1/125th of a second and you can call it a wrap. If you are getting good at photographic art you’ll know when you’ve gotten the shot.

d. How many pictures does your camera hold? I mean in toto. Thousands? Don’t let yourself be put on the treadmill of taking repeats and more views when you do have what you need. Some people have this thrust upon them by others and some do it to themselves, but the end result is just wasted time and memory flushed away when it comes time to process.

The sports shooter who has their camera set to take a massive number of shots in the hope of finding one amongst the sequence that is good condemns themselves or others to a desperately long search amongst the files for that perfection.

Finally, just remember the chap who took the first photograph of that rooftop in France in the 19th century. After 8 hours exposure he was perfectly justified in packing it in and looking for a vin ordinaire. Not ” Hold Still, Monsieur…Just One More “.

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