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The Sustentation Moment

The sustentation moment is an apex, or top, of a curve. When you throw a tennis ball up, it stops at a certain point on the curve before it reverses direction. This is a fantastic illustration for shooting sports at slow shutter speeds, where you don’t have enough shutter speeds, because it’s at that moment at the apex of the curve where things freeze.

It’s actually very easy to judge, as you’re shooting, where an athlete leaps up, stops momentarily, and comes down; you’re basically waiting for that moment. And that’s what that frame is. It’s just studying the motion.

The image of the diver on the previous page was made using a single frame, because I learned that when shooting in the continuous-burst mode, this peak moment would sometimes happen between frames, even when firing at 10 frames per second. When you are shooting continually, you can’t pay attention to your composition, and you can’t really anticipate the moment. And there’s really only going to be that one moment.

  • It’s actually very easy to judge, as you’re shooting, where an athlete leaps up, stops momentarily, and comes down; you’re basically waiting for that moment.

I knew I wanted to completely isolate that background and blur it out. I shot it wide open on a 400mm lens, which also allowed me to use the fastest shutter speed possible to freeze the image of those water droplets.

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