Half the magic that happens behind the camera and before or after the shot is simply the learning experience getting to the final capture. The hardest part is getting what’s in your head, the little spark of inspiration, and making it into something that can actually be photographed. Most mornings, it’s a willy-nilly vague idea, with a spur of the moment impulse to get in a pose that’s worth seeing. However, some mornings, when an idea from the day before needs to get out, a constant battle is held between trying to get the idea onto the camera and realizing the little tweaks that need to be made to make the idea feasible.
The best way to get at the trapped idea is winging it for the first shot. This is going to be the purest effort available, and will start the learning experience of what will and will not work. On lucky days it’s a one and done deal, the shot works, the bag is packed, helmet donned, and it’s off to work. However, this day is anything but that. The progression from the first photograph to the last shows the little tweaks being made to the idea.
The first capture is all wrong, but it solidifies the idea and confirms it might actually work. The frame is too small, the subject is out of focus, and the resulting pose is anything but awe inspiring. The bike is in the air though, and that is all that is needed to keep chucking it into the sky and hoping for the right timing.
What’s the first to be corrected though? The frame? The pose? The focus? How about all at once and see if works the second time around. The timer is set to 10 and a second go is captured. The result is not quite right, but the image sparks yet another idea. I’m slightly relaxed with a feeling of awe looking up at the floating bike. It appears that no effort has been made to get it up there, and all I have to do is watch it float there.
The third shot involves adjusting the frame as the bike isn’t quite fitting, yet throwing the bike lower is not an option. A tilt of the camera is made with a stick, as that’s all I have to work with, the timer is set, the focus is adjusted, the count to 10 begins and another heave of the bike is captured. The throw is good, the timing is about on; however, the arms are still up in the air conveying no ease of effort. Chalk it up to bad timing, and remember that catching the bike on the way down is only worthwhile if the arms make it down for the shot.
The fourth shot is a repeat of the third. However, the bike is in just a bit of a better position, slightly leveled from a flick of the wrist with the left hand. This gives the feeling that the bike was dropped into the frame ever so carefully with a pair of tweezers. The ease I’m looking for and something to repeat on future shots.
The fifth shot starts with a roll call of things to remember while the countdown to 10 occurs; sadly the fifth shot is the first in a series of too many captures where the timing is off. The idea starts to fade as frustration fills in the gaps. This is usually the most important time to hold on to the idea and not let it go. A quick spin through the previous shots refreshes the idea and the mental list of adjustments to be made. Remember to flick the left wrist to level the bike, flatten the feet to look still, get the hands down and grabbing onto the legs to forget about catching the bike, look up to keep an eye on the bike as to not drop it, and don’t forget to breathe to keep the body from going rigid. On the final shot, everything falls into place, as the idea shifts from inside the head to the back of the screen.
23 shots later the bag gets to be packed, the helmed donned and the bike ride to work is filled with smiles, all from getting the idea in the head onto the camera.