To spray or not to spray; that is the question (praying is not optional)

I recently read, “Bursting the Burst Mode Myth: [What I Learned from Shooting with Film],” and had some mixed feelings.  The widely known spay and pray method may not be for everySpray&PrayTShirt photography application or for every shooter, but lets not completely discount the approach (I would say technique, but some photography purist would likely argue that designation for several hours; maybe even days).

While capturing as many frames as possible during a portrait session may not be the best approach, I wouldn’t feel bad about doing it as long as you are aware of what you are getting yourself into.  I wouldn’t suggest holding down the shutter release until the camera melts or you run out of memory either.  If there is any motion in what you are capturing you’ll likely need to true up your focus point again and possibly make other adjustments to your exposure occasionally.

The article speaks to cost with some of it being hidden.  Let’s explore that for a moment and see what you may potentially get yourself into:

  • TIME:  It’s digital so film isn’t the issue, but rather your time spent looking through all of the images.  I get it.  We are not tackling world peace here, you are reviewing images.  I don’t see time as a big issue unless you get all crazy and capture thousands and thousands of images.  Like most everything else, you get out what you put in.  A strong and organized workflow process can weed out extra or unwanted shots in short amount of time.  Overload that process and you’ll burn yourself out eventually on the approach.
  • DETAILS:  There is no guarantee that your photo will be free of foreign object seemingly growing from your subject’s head based on your approach.  Is it less likely if you spend one minute on one shot versus 15 shot in one minute?  Certainly, but you should pay attention to composition and not miss specific key details regardless of how many frames per second you are firing off.  I can also appreciate the thought behind connecting with your subject, but let’s be real – while you where taking a breath between seeing, composing, observing some more and then breathing again – 10 potentially great expressions/moments just happened and you captured none of them.  Get your breathing done ahead of time.  You should always make a connection with your subject, don’t get me wrong, but paying attention, connecting and capturing frames should be a fluid motion; if not, chalk it up to gaining further experience until it is second nature.
  • SHUTTER ACTUATIONS:  The other hidden cost besides your time is shutter actuations.  Unfortunately your camera’s shutter will not continue to click forever.  How long your specific model will last depends greatly on the model, its rating (not guarantee), your luck and we might as well add karma to the mix.
Nikon D7000 Shutter
Nikon D7000 Shutter –

I do agree with the articles take on group portraits.  The more heads in the photo, the higher probability that someone will blink at exactly the wrong moment.  Several frames will ensure you have the shot even it you have to switch out a head or two.  Sports is a no-brainer as is the point and shoot cameras with shutter lag issues (which are better these days thankfully).

There is a comment at end of the article that just rubs me the wrong way.  It states “the spray and pray method of shooting sends up a red flare” and it goes on to state that the photographer doesn’t know what they are doing.  If that is your only approach to photography, I would agree.

If you are going to spray and pray, have a good reason.  More on that tomorrow.


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