13 September 2012

How to Photograph People Jumping

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Quite some while ago I had fun with some friends and my DSLR when we jumped into swimming pools, on a bouncy castle, and even off a tree in the park. The classic shot was "the superman" as the shots we were trying to get made us look like we were levitating with ease. It was fun but believe me, knowing that there was a soft landing below definitely helped get some confident shots.

This is just one of the fun ways you can enjoy the benefits of high speed photography and probably one of the most used, however, its been used mainly in sport to get that perfect action shot from football to horse eventing.

We're going to look at how you can use your DSLR to get a cool photo of your friends or family doing some kind of cool jump mid-air.

DSLR Camera

Incase you didn't know, DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. It's basically what the 'professionals' use in the photography world and generally the higher the price the more you get. If you don't have a DSLR you might not gain the same results but some cameras have a sports mode or the option to increase the shutter speed. These might also be able to get these types of photos but might be slightly delayed on the trigger. Personally, we'd recommend getting your hands on a DSLR. The photo below is the one we use.

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Camera Settings For Jump

To gain a pixel sharp image you'll find there will be a lot of trial and error involved, however, the main thing to remember is that you need a high shutter speed. The Canon 1000D goes up to 1/4000 which is pretty fast. The problem though is the higher you go the less light you allow the camera to capture and compose a nicely balanced image from. Therefore, you need to adjust the amount of aperture too allow more light through the lens whilst you're taking these high speed photos. The lowest allowed on our camera s F4.0 - the higher this number goes the less light you allow in through the lens.
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If you find that you're still getting low light images then you'll want to bump up the ISO on your camera. Ours goes up to 1600. What this does is it allows you to increase the sensitivity of the camera's sensor to light. Be warned though. The higher you go, the more grain your image can get. If you shoot your photos in RAW though you can edit this out in Photoshop to some level.

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Overall, it's all about balance as different lighting conditions will alter your ability to shoot at high speeds as well as the capabilities of your camera and even your lens. Some lenses allow more light to reach the sensor meaning a lower F-stop number and personally we'd recommend fixed lenses for really sharp images as there's no moving mechanism for the zoom function.

A good gauge to start from would be the following:
  • shutter speed 1/250
  • aperture F5.6
  • ISO 800
From here you can adjust accordingly to the images you're shooting.

We hope this has been a helpful cheat sheet to taking high speed photos of people jumping. If you feel like you have more to add to this please leave a comment. Otherwise, happy shooting!

For further help with photography tips, take a look at our previous article on photography tips which has our helpful guide to how shutter speeds, apertures, and ISOs work: http://www.inspiringprint.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/newbie-photographer-resources-and-advice.html.


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