Rev things up a notch by zooming in and out of the action,
says professional photographer, Scott Woodward
Every month, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine features a different professional photographer who offers some background and insight into how they made one of their more interesting or technically-challenging pictures. Recently, one of the Times’ editors contacted me about my image captured from the back of a scooter speeding through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — and the following are highlights of the interview that I gave for their February 2019 ‘How To Take The Shot’.
- I like to get out of my comfort zone when I can, trying new angles and techniques. I took this shot from the back of a moped while whizzing through Ho Chi Minh City. It’s an energetic place, heaving with people, and the roads are always a swarm of motorbikes. Wanting to capture the chaos, I took a short ride from the main hub, District 1, to Chinatown, in District 5.
- I love how the image makes you feel as if you’re right in the middle of the action. I used a 24-70mm lens, set a long exposure of 1/20 sec and, as I took the picture, zoomed the lens in and out. It’s a really simple technique and it creates this lovely sense of movement. Without it, anything travelling at the same speed would have remained in focus and the background would have been a blur.
- I used a very narrow aperture of f/22 to achieve a slow shutter speed. Any wider and it would have frozen all the action. I hadn’t originally planned to zoom the lens, but was struggling to achieve the desired effect. Don’t be afraid to play around as it’s often how you uncover these little magic tricks.
- I’ve ridden motorcycles since I was young and am comfortable riding pillion, but it is dangerous. I wore a helmet without a visor, which made it easier to look through the viewfinder. As long as the helmet isn’t too bulky, you can nudge a camera under it.
- One last tip: before hopping on, let the driver know what you’re planning on doing. I paid my driver a little bit more to drive me around for a while so I could ensure I got the right shot.