To Burst or Not to Burst…

As we’ve seen so many improvements in technology, with higher and higher resolution images, decreasing costs of storage, and faster  burst rates with every new generation of gear, I know a lot of photographers tend to move toward the attitude of “it’s just digital, so why not just shoot in burst rate?”  To some this may make sense.  If there is a best shot in a particular scenario, shooting rapid style in that scenario means youwill get the shot.  One of those 200 frames will be the right moment when say, for instance, you are doing a portrait session and the model has a perfect smile or laugh, right?  Fast-moving scenarios like sporting events, running kids, a burst rate will give you a much better chance of getting the shot you need as well.

Continuous Burst

On the flip side of this, I also know many other photographers who argue that using the burst rate is a crutch.  It’s fine to start out with it while you are learning, but that a true professional should not be “spraying and praying”, because a professional should know how to get good results through timing, knowledge, experience, and all the rest. Arguments against using the burst mechanism also include other considerations like post production and undue wear and tear.

The first of these holds that if there’s only 1 shot in those 200 that is the “keeper” – you have to find it, right?  That could be time consuming, and extra post production where it’s not needed is a waste of time. The “Wear and Tear” point notes that shutters are built for limited actuations, and over-shooting can result in going through the mechanism prematurely.  Replacing a shutter mechanism could be costly, and spending money when you don’t need to is a bad idea.

Single Shot

Moving back to the original position in favor of burst rates, the response usually is “why does that matter, if I am okay with it, why should anyone else pass judgement on me for how I shoot and spend my time”.  After all, it’s digital, the cost of replacement is low enough, and I enjoy spending the time looking through all the shots – it gives me a certain degree of comfort and security in knowing that the best shot is in there somewhere for me to find!

For me, I do think that using the burst mode on your camera can be very beneficial, especially in the beginning of your photographic development.  But, as you advance, and start to find that your keepers are occurring earlier and earlier in your shot sequences, that perhaps there might be a time to move away from burst mode.  There may be times and places for it like fast moving scenarios, HDR capture times (when you have several bracketed shots), and others.

Three Shot Burst

Imagine this though – what if you could get a semi-burst of shots to handle these scenarios?  On most cameras, you have the single and burst rate modes as shown and discussed earlier, but you also have a 3-shot or 5-shot burst mode.  This might be a good compromise scenario for those of you that can see the merits of each.  This is what gets my vote in the “To Burst or Not to Burst” debate.  What about you?

Which mode to you most often shoot in with your camera?

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Great Pictures Can be Made in Your Own Backyard

Selective Toning by Joe Farace

Guest post by Joe Farace

I don’t always have any specific goals and objectives in mind when making an image other than “I’d like to make a nice photo,” but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. My friend Matt Staver is a talented, young photographer who often asks me “what was your objective in making that photograph” but I seldom have a good answer for him.

At the FOTOfusion conference a few years ago I conducted a workshop called “Right in Your Own Backyard” which was based on the premise that you needn’t travel halfway around the world when great photo ops are closer to home. When showing an image made, literally, in my backyard, one of the students asked, “What prompted you to make that picture.” Answering was difficult because it addressed the thought processes going on while an image is created but I never got that question out of my head and so decided to show you how a specific photograph was made.

Selective Toning by Joe Farace

This portrait of my wife Mary was made in my real back yard (in a former residence, not on Daisy Hill where I now live) using a Hasselblad Xpan film camera and is the full image of the camera’s 35mm panoramic frame. In this case, the portrait was created as a homage to the work of Phil Borges who is not only an extremely gifted photographer but is also a humanitarian. One of the techniques Mr. Borges uses is called “selective toning” which is different from split toning although the effect is similar because the image maker gets to determine which specific area of the photograph is toned in different colors or tones by using masking techniques.

In the traditional darkroom the effect can be achieved by coating the areas of the print that you do not wish to tone in that particular color with liquid rubber cement. You apply carefully this goopy stuff with a brush, let it dry and then immerse the print in the toner solution. After washing and drying the rubber cement peels off easily you can then apply rubber cement to the areas that you just toned and then re-tone the print in another color of toner. If all that sound complicated and messy, it is, but the effects can be dramatic. This same technique is much easier to accomplish using digital techniques and layers. After scanning the panoramic images, I created two layers; one was toned, was not. Then I erased everything on the “toned” layer but Mary’s face. To finish it off and give the portrait a real film look, I applied one of Kevin Kubota’s Sloppy Borders effects.

You can follow Joe on his own blog, Changing the World, One Pixel at a Time