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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You Can’t Get There from Here!

Flooding on NYS 79

Last week was a bit of a crazy week for me as I was out of town visiting the in-laws over Labor Day weekend.  Once back home on Monday, I had Tuesday to do laundry, re-pack, and get ready for another trip to see the other set of folks before starting a new gig this week!  So, off I went on Wed. to the upstate hills of NY (small area near Cooperstown).  It’s a gorgeous area, and heading into fall, I was really hoping for some nice opportunities to shoot the fall foliage, perhaps some nice New England-esque type scenes with barns, horses, and the whole nine yards that we just can’t get in Colorado (the greens and colors really are different from one region to another…trust me!)

Well, my travel plans notwithstanding, Hurricane Irene saturated the area pretty nicely, so by the time tropical storm Lee dumped it’s load of water in NY, PA, and the northeast in general, I was met with a wet reception.  Part A:  Denver to Philly – no problems  Part B:   Philadelphia to Albany – canceled…re-booked me to Binghamton! Part C:  Philadelphia to Binghamton – canceled.

Part D:  Driving!  I finally said to heck with flying, I can drive there from here in 4 hours, so off into a rental car I went…thinking “How bad can it be?”  The answer:  pretty bad!  As it turns out, every road east of the Susquehanna River was either flooded, washed out, or otherwise impassable.  If you look at a map of Upstate NY, the two cities nearest my ultimate destination of Oneonta were Albany and Binghamton – which we knew had cancelled flights.  As you’ll notice from Map 1:



There’s only one Interstate between B and O – I88…and guess what was closed due to flooding:  yep, the entrance to I88.  Okay, well I went to school at Cortland so knew of a few roads up that direction that cut across.  The best is state highway 206, which turns off at Whitney Point and brings you back to I88 at Bainbridge.  Take a look at the closed roads I encountered in that area:

Whitney Point 206

So, with both Greene (the midway point across 206 closed and (from what I heard) the Main street at Bainbridge before the Interstate, that was out of the question, so I tried going south to Chenango Forks and cut over at 79.  Turns out that even after a local road loop around some washed out road on highway 79, I still wasn’t able to get over because of the flooding right in Chenango Forks.

When I finally called in reinforcements to help me scout out flooded areas, I learned that most points north of me were out of commission too – all the way up to Albany across the Thruway! (Yes, even Albany had flooded areas).  Suffice to say, Mother Nature was telling me that I just couldn’t get to Oneonta.  So, I stopped trying and returned to the dry and non-flooded confines of Colorado a day early.  But, since I had my camera with me, I was able to stop at one place (Chenango Forks) and get a few shots of the flooding typical to the area:

Flooding on NYS 79

Highway DOT officials told me the depth was about two feet, and that several pickups without a decent clearance were already prohibited from getting through.  Suffice to say, my Chevy Aveo rental was not up to the challenge!  So, home I went, anxious to get out of the flood zone, and having not seen one family member in 3000 miles of flying and probably 500 miles of driving!  It was a crazy week last week, which is also a partial explanation as to why I was not posting or really plugged in that much.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work off the cholesterol I inhaled from those three travel days and meals at diners and Wafflehouses! 🙂

Happy shooting, and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

Oh yeah, one last thing – don’t forget that today is the last day to register for your chance to win a Drobo from me and the folks at Data Robotics!  Hit the Monday post for specifics, and we’ll announce the winner next week!