Looking Ahead

Foto Tip by Mark Alberhasky – Mark looks at how a bit of forethought can go a long way in helping you to get the killer image. Previsualise and sort out the technical issues beforehand.
This foto tip sounds like one of the mantras from the driving school I took during the summer with my two sons. Now before you start thinking I needed help with my driving, this instruction was in high performance driving, much of it on the track at 100 mph speeds. And since we all want to be high performance photographers too, this advice is just as good off the track.

Always be looking ahead, way out in front.

In photography this can mean a couple of things. Typically it would refer to paying attention to your surroundings, so that as a photogenic scene begins to unfold, you have an inking that something good may come of it. With this brief advance notice, courtesy of your intuition, you may be able to position yourself so the “drama” (or comedy) is played as if for you and your camera alone. To be able to sense what is happening around you, and yet remain detached from the event so you can observe and record it objectively,
is a real art. Photojournalists use this skill every day, and we can all improve our images by practicing when we can.

But if you extrapolate the meaning of “look ahead” a little more, great things can happen.
Recently I was to travel to Mexico on a shoot for Nikon. As my wife and I were reading about the potential attractions on the Internet before our trip, watching cliff divers caught my eye. Now, your first mental image of cliff divers is likely to be the wide shot from below, emphasizing the height of the dive. But as I lay in bed in Bowling Green, KY, the shot my mind’s eye wanted to see was from the divers perspective, the moment he left the

Now you might well be saying, “Sounds good, but that just isn’t happening!” But by “looking ahead”, watching for the opportunity, and preparing my self mentally, it did happen. Was it dangerous?  Well it sure gave me pause, but I assure you in reality it wasn’t that high risk. Because I had thought well in advance about what I would do “if” I got the chance, I had the correct lens and camera settings before I went
up with the diver. (I knew in the heat of the moment there would be A LOT of adrenaline
flowing, not conducive to mental introspection … “Gee, should this be aperture or shutter priority?”)

So, if you’re going somewhere special and planning to shoot something unique, let your mind’s eye wander well in advance. Imagine a rendering that would rock your world.  Do some planning about how you’d get that shot and then watch for the opportunity to
make it happen.

When you see it all coming together, go for it!
Whether it’s at 100 mph on a racetrack, or 100 feet above crashing surf, you’ll be ready.

Mark Alberhasky image

Mark Alberhasky

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