Follow the Subject. Where to?

Digital SLR photography tips: Follow the subject

Follow the subject doesn't mean stalk them! What I mean is, whatever you are trying to capture, stay with it until the bitter end. If it is an animal running or a person surfing or even a bird flying, "keep on it". At least until it has exhausted any photo opportunities or gone out of sight.

The previous subject "use both eyes open" is a definite help here. You want to be aware of what your subject is doing at all times. The more you see, the closer you are to getting the best shots that you can.

It is all too easy to flit and switch your vision to something that could be more interesting. Only to find that the horses you were looking at start to...ahem! Follow the subject and stay with it!

Horses for (inter) courses

Two Horses Mating

Try to keep your shutter finger half pressed so that the camera is constantly altering the exposure and focus as you move the camera around. I have on many occasions said the following to myself, much to my wife's amusement. "Oh, nothing's happening here!" put the camera away and all of a sudden something like 300 Harley Davidson's roar past. By the time I get the camera back out I just manage to get the back tyre of the last bike!

Now, if I am out and about with the purpose of taking pictures, the camera is always in my hand. It is constantly switched on. With practice, you become more aware of your surroundings and feel ready to pounce when the action strikes. Here are some examples of how and why to follow the subject.

Quad bikes

One evening, we were walking along our local beach when 6 or 7 quad bikes burst on to the scene. This particular one went out of sight behind some reeds but I kept my camera in the general area nonetheless. A few seconds later, he flew out of the reeds over a sand dune and on to the beach below. I even managed to get a hint of Gibraltar in the background.

Quad Bike Beach Jump at Sunset


On this day, there were about 10 or so surfers on a well known surf spot in Mojacar, southern Spain. It would have been all too easy to jump from one to the other. However, by following my own advice and staying with each surfer until he had finished his run, I walked away with a lot more decent shots than if I hadn't.

Surfer Carving Into a Wave

Even at the end of a surfers run, you can get some great candid shots as they "exit" their boards in sometimes spectacular fashion.

Surfer at the End of a Wave

Hopefully this will give you inspiration and motivate you to really study your subject and walk away with a lot more "keepers".

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