25 May 2008

Timing your photographs - 2

Following on from my previous post about the importance of good timing when taking your photographs, here are a couple of pictures that illustrate another aspect of timing.

Good timing is not only vital in order to capture the precise moment the action is most interesting, but it can also have a profound affect on the composition and atmosphere of the picture.

Compare the two photographs taken of racehorses exercising in the Staffordshire countryside very early one winter’s morning. I was delighted to capture the shot of the horses though the trees and against such strong backlighting. The bare trees, the snow on the ground – everything adds to the atmosphere of that winter morning. The horses are walking quite slowly, not galloping, but still the timing is important. In the photograph above, there are more horses than in the shot below, but less is often more in photography, and by waiting until some of the horses had passed out of shot to my left, the composition became cleaner, and because of that the second photograph, below, has more impact.

Also, the silhouettes of the horses to the right of the first picture (above) are not ‘clean’; they are partly obscured by the trees. This has created a degree of confusion and has become distracting. By waiting until fewer horses can be seen more ‘cleanly’ between the trees in the second shot (below), the visual appeal has been heightened rather than reduced.

After taking the first shot, I did not give way to the temptation to follow the horses in the viewfinder in order to make sure I got them all in as they moved to my left, but, as you can see from the foreground, which has hardly changed, I simply waited until some horses moved out of shot and kept the framing almost identical.

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