This was an education in the frustrations of action photography. First, my camera does have a burst mode, but it isn’t that fast and it has to pause every 5-6 images to store the images. Second, this was at the Halifax Buskers Festival, which means crowds, highly variable weather, and limited shooting angles because of both. Third, Buskers like surprising you and don’t repeat themselves much during an act.
Solutions include trying to get to a particular act early, finding a good spot and keeping it. You should also see an act at least twice. This gives you an idea of where and when to shoot. For fast action, you need uniform lighting so that there is a minimum of backlighting. However, given the available times (for me after work and before dark) this is unavoidable for some acts.
The most important thing is to take lots and lots and lots of pictures, since you can only prepare and compose a shot so much. Also, the acts will change from show to show. And finally, if it gets too frustrating, sit back and enjoy the show. At least you’ll remember what it was like.
The busker act Team Ryouko was a case in point. They perform something called extreme martial arts; I’d call it a hyperactive Jackie Chan style. The techniques they used are a combination of a number of conventional martial arts (Tae Kwan Do, Karate, Capoeira, Kenjutsu, etc), gymnastics, and breakdancing. The idea is to do combat sequences that would fit into movies and other performances.
The first time I saw them was at night. During their warmup they were doing kicks and spins as fast as anything I had ever seen in the movies (including CGI). This was under bad lighting, so I put my camera away and had a ball. After the warmup they did a light-saber sequence that was phenomenal, then they demonstrated various martial arts weapons, including some of the more unusual Chinese Wu Shu weapons. They finished with formation martial arts that at one point turned into country line dancing, to general merriment. I would have had two chances of getting anything useful; fat or slim.
The next weekend I saw them twice in daylight. One occasion was a grey day and I didn’t get a great place to sit. The other occasion was sometime between 4-7 pm and while the surroundings were bright, the performers were in shadow. To expose properly for the fighters would have required too slow a shutter speed to capture the motion, and would also have blown out the background. To expose for the surroundings would have produced silhouettes. I tried my best, and got an education. From about 180 shots, mostly in burst mode, I obtained about 20-30 interesting shots, but less than 10 presentable ones. Many of the shots were standard shots seen too many times before, some of the good compositions and captures had bad exposures, etc.
So these are first tries. Some are conventional, and for others I concentrated on mood and emotion rather than spectacular stunts. One note: all of these images were taken at 1/350th to 1/500th of a second, so any blurs are due to extremely high speed.
a quickr pickr post