Cyclists at the Mall of Asia (or how to photograph a moving subject)

It was early morning, around 7.00 o’clock, and cyclists were all over the Mall of Asia grounds. I wanted to take photos so I stood on the curb and under the shade. But at that hour the Mall of Asia building was casting long shadows over the road and the curb. Great that I was out of the sun — but so were the cyclists.

casaveneracion.com how to photograph a moving subject

That was the first shot that I took. I checked the LCD and I was horrified at the quality of the photo. You think cropping could cure the defects?

casaveneracion.com Cyclists at the Mall of Asia

That’s a cropped version (much like what I saw on the LCD when I zoomed in) and it still looked terrible. So I moved — away from the shade and under the sun. I knew there were several groups of cyclists so I waited for the next one. This time under the proper lighting conditions.

The photo below represents three practical, and very valuable, lessons in photography — 1) the use of leading lines; 2) cropping to get rid of unwanted elements to that draw the eyes away from the subject and 3) timing and patience.

casaveneracion.com Cyclists at the Mall of Asia grounds

You can read more about leading lines in a previous photo tip.

About the cropping part… that’s a cropped photo you see above. Below is the original shot.

casaveneracion.com morning-exercise3

Kinda hard to figure out what the photo wants to illustrate, doesn’t it, with too many elements visible. So, I cropped the photo (with Adobe Photoshop) to show what I want to show and hide what are not essential.

Why didn’t I just wait until the cyclists got nearer to take the shot so cropping wouldn’t have been necessary? BECAUSE. Because when photographing a fast moving subject, you just don’t wait until the last moment. You start shooting the moment the subject can be positioned inside the frame. And you keep shooting until the subject is out of range. See, if you start shooting when the subject is perfectly near and perfectly positioned inside your frame, you can only take maybe two or three shots. And that’s if you have a fast camera and lens. But with a point-and-shoot (I didn’t bring the dSLR that day so I was using the Powershot G10), you can’t dream of speed shooting. I took a series of shots so I could choose which works best. And I think the third photo works just fine.