Experimentation

“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” – Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus.

So you’ve become proficient at a certain technique and you can make consistently good pictures using it, what do you do next? Experiment. We can all become inured to doing the same thing in the same way (even if that method is a good one) but if you change things up a bit, it can broaden your horizons and expand your photographic capabilities.

It could be that using a certain method or a piece of equipment will consistently yield great photos for you. Go ahead and still take those ace-in-the-hole photos but then try something new. It could be seeing things from a new angle or a different lens.

In track and field, for example, conventional wisdom in shooting the long jump is to use a long telephoto lens (as it is with most sports). The athlete is usually captured as they fly in mid air from the far end of the sand pit. This is effective in rendering dramatic peak action pictures.

But a change of lens and position one can get photo that’s equally dramatic in its own way. A wide-angle lens used at a low angle and perpendicular to the plane of action can make the athletes look like they’re soaring through the sky, in superhero-like fashion.

Keeping in the track and field vein, in the pole vault the usual shot to get is the athlete going over the bar. But getting a photo before they get to that point, when the pole bends in an arc and the competitors strain to pull themselves up, can be just as striking.

While these examples are specific to track and field, the concept of trying new and different things can be applied to all sports and photography in general.

Sometimes trying something new doesn’t work and you can chalk it up to experience. But when you find something new that works it can expand your photographic repertoire.

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