How to capture movement

[photograph © Jacques Marais, The WideAngle]

Some of the most memorable moments from your travels probably involved one of the hardest things to capture on camera: movement. That man in Morocco riding a bicycle with a trailer packed two metres high with loaves of bread; thousands of runners streaming past you at the start of the New York Marathon; huskies charging forward, sled gliding behind them, in Sweden; the pro snowboarder showing you how it’s done as you sit, butt in the snow (again), at Whistler. The WideAngle photographer Jacques Marais has made a name for himself as a man who knows exactly how to capture these fleeting moments – and how to create unforgettable images from them. We asked him to let us in on a few trade secrets.

What’s the most valuable lesson in photography you’ve learnt?

Get up of your ass and work, work, work – magic hour does not happen under the duvet. Oh, and lose the ego.

What gear do you always carry when you’re capturing motion or shooting sport events?

I like to go as light as possible, but without sacrificing quality. Minimal kit would be a Nikon D700 full-frame DSLR, a 24-120mm lens and SB-900 flash. Or if I really need to travel under the radar, my trusty FUJI X100 range-finder look-alike.

What lens do you shoot with most often?

The shooting situation dictates the lens, so anything from a 16mm fish-eye to a 400mm telephoto zoom. I have a preference for going wide, as I like to get in close and personal to become part of the action.

What are your top tips for shooting movement?

1/ Shoot wide and up close.

2/ Stop down aperture by one stop.

3/ Use powerful on-camera flash to freeze the movement.

4/ Pan and experiment with differing shutter speeds until you perfect the combo between blur and subject sharpness.

5/ Use wireless Pocket Wizards to vary lighting if you have the luxury.

Jacques Marais, a member of The WideAngle network, is a South Africa-based adventure and travel photographer whose work is regularly published in magazines such as Runner’s World, Men’s Health and Bicycling. His latest books include The Adventure Guide of South Africa, and Top MTB Trails. Jacques is also an accredited Red Bull and Land Rover photographer.

Into photography and want to take better pics while you’re travelling? Take this advice from Steve Davey, who runs photographic trips; plus tips here from wildlife photographer Dale Morris on how to take great images of animals.

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