Drive-by shootingPictures by TV SMITH
TV SMITH talks about the pros of drive-by shooting-with a camera, that is.
OVER the years, I have received many interesting pictures from the driver’s seat with the seat belt buckled and engine running. Depending on the circumstances, this form of photography can be quite enjoyable and a great way of acquiring interesting images.
With a little practice and some sensible precautions, you too can click from the car and obtain great results.
Of course, you needn’t go on a road trip just to take photos. Whether you are travelling outstation on holiday or for work, keep your camera by your side and look out for out-of-the-ordinary subjects. The interesting subjects are usually the ones that appear unexpectedly.
If you are doing the driving yourself, do not attempt to operate the camera on the move. If you spot something appealing, stop the vehicle at a safe spot. If there is adequate clearance from passing traffic, manoeuvre your car slowly until you get a good vantage point. Switch on the hazard lights; engage the handbrake and/or parking gear.
If you have driven way pass something you fancy, do not stop suddenly and reverse recklessly. Make a safe and proper U-turn further down the road, if you feel that the subject is important enough. Otherwise, park your vehicle somewhere safe and walk, or give it a miss.
It is also possible to shoot through the passenger side window (from the driver’s seat), but first, wind down the window. Since most car windows are slightly tinted and may also contain a layer of grime on the outside, your image might become soft or “off-colour” as a result. Even if it is spotlessly clean, you still have reflections to contend with.
With the glass down, the window is actually a good place to rest your arms or the camera itself. However, engine vibrations can also be transferred to your arms or camera this way. Switch off the engine and loud stereo to minimise camera shake when using slow shutter speeds. Watch out, too, for vibrations and crosswind from passing heavy vehicles. When peering through the viewfinder, learn how to keep the other eye open in order to stay alert to your surroundings.
If you are taking pictures from a moving vehicle (with someone else driving), use a shutter speed of at least 1/250, especially when shooting sideways. Do not obstruct the driver’s view of the wing mirror unnecessarily and always wrap the camera strap securely around one hand. If you have a driver, traffic light junctions and traffic jams are also great for offbeat pictures.
At most of these impromptu stops, you may need to shoot and move on as quickly as possible to minimise any potential hazard you might create for yourself and other road users. On rural roads, for example, there may be many cyclists and pedestrians on the narrow roads. You may be causing more than obstruction and inconvenience. Remember that safety considerations override everything else. You can always look for another interesting picture opportunity further down the road.
To keep your “stopover” as brief as possible, visually compose the shot in your mind, even before picking up the camera. When the camera is at eye level, you should just fine-tune the framing, click and drive on. W