Airsoft: Shooting More Than BBs
In an airsoft match, BBs are not the only things being shot. The unsung heroes of the airsoft match, are the guys that walk into the game field with a camera in their hands and capture those epic moments that airsoft players will remember for years to come, and will ultimately spawn a new generation of airsofters.
Having a DSLR camera will surely get the job done, but that is not the point of this article, as they are not the only tool available to snap epic moments.
A simple point-and-shoot camera used properly, along with some time dedicated to process your photos, can provide you the best gallery for you and your teammates to remember those epic moments. I’ll refer to this kind of camera for the rest of the article.
Remember that a point-and-shoot camera is small and portable, offers less surface for BBs to land on, and is relatively inexpensive. With the proper protection, you can put it inside one of your many pouches and snap pictures while you’re waiting to be revived by your medic or walking down to the respawn point.
Practice makes perfect, and good theory is a solid foundation to build upon. I will share with my fellow airsofters tips for airsoft photography, but this is the first step on long path that only the reader can walk on. Go out and snap some pictures during your game matches. Share those pictures and keep your mind open for critics, you may not like what you hear but it’s important to hear it. Then, rinse and repeat.
We could make a whole article about this subject but that’s beyond the intention of this writing. For the sake of brevity we will go with an informal, but not so inaccurate definition: Composition is the way you visually order elements in a work of art. In this case your very own picture.
Just as in airsoft, you must select a target to shoot, even if there are two or more elegible ones nearby you must focus on one at the time before making a shot. The more skilled you become the faster you can shot to different targets.
Let’s start with something simple. Most likely you are familiar with centering a single subject in your picture. This is probably the most common way to arrange your composition. This is not bad, but let’s try something different.
Imagine a three by three grid on your camera screen. Actually, do something better. Look for the setting in your camera that prints that grid for you. You can get rid of it later when you get more experienced. Instead of centering the subject right in the middle of the screen, center him either on the intersections of the lines, or right along any of those lines.
This is but one of many composition techniques. It’s the rule of “thirds.”
Keep it simple. If your image contains many elements, it may be distracting from your main objective. Remember, same as in airsoft, you’re aiming for a single target at the time. Clutter can be reduced not just by physically removing them from the frame, but by taking advantage of lighting, as brighter areas will draw attention, as do lines and colors.
Focus and Lighting
I’m trying to be as generic as possible here; there are cameras that let you select light metering by different methods and also let you indicate where you want to focus, by touching the screen. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume your camera uses the center of the screen to calculate this.
When you half-way press the shutter button on your camera, you can hear and feel something inside the device. That is the camera preparing for a shot. Without going into any details, what it is doing, is autofocusing and measuring the amount of light present to adjust aperture.
This somehow comes into conflict with the rule of “thirds” above, as we don’t want the subject dead center in the composition. But you need to let the camera set itself based on your subject, not the tree ten meters away. So to work around this, you can center your subject, halfway pressing the shutter, and then framing him using the rule of “thirds”.
Flash or No Flash
Snapping pictures in a night game is difficult feat, and will be material for another article. But for now, let’s skim the surface.
The following is counter intuitive and must be taken with a grain of salt: Don’t use flash. That is, unless you have to.
Photography. It’s about painting with light. So you need light, right? Well yes, but not just any light. You want to use the light that is scattered around the ambiance so it will give you the hues you need for naturally pleasant photography. That along with a nice composition technique, of course.
Let’s make a note here, I’m not talking about external flashes or soft lights. We are talking about the built in flash in your relatively inexpensive, portable, good-for-airsoft-games, point-and-shoot camera.
Usually, the maximum range for these are about three meters. Tapering away in a sort of cone pattern, the closer to the flash, the more light will hit your objective; washing away any features in the process. You don’t want Casper The Friendly Ghost being the main object of your picture, you want your airsoft buddy, telling the epic tale of an airsoft match that will be remembered by generations to come, who will download the same image over and over from the internet.
If you must use flash, put your objetive almost to the maximum range of the flash and zoom in. Keep in mind, that this will cause most, if not all, of the background to disappear. And in it’s place, a black wall, and dust particles suspended in the air reflecting back light. This is fine if it is what you want. If not then disable the built in flash.
Remember, you are in an airsoft match. So you won’t be carrying a tripod, which is essential for night photography. But there are ways to workaround this issue.
Look around you. Find something stable and high enough for your purposes. Set the timer of your camera, and put it on top of whatever you find, decide your composition, press the shutter half way, arrange the composition, and remove your hands from the camera to avoid shaking it. For this to work, the subject must be still; very still for about a minute.
In this way, your camera will make it’s best effort to bring you a nice picture. It will capture as much light as possible. Depending on the light, your subject’s features will be sufficiently visible, along and some of the background and other noise.
Obviously this leaves action pictures out the frame (no pun intendent) for the moment, but don’t loose hope just yet. It will covered in depth in another article.
Spray and Pray Works Too
Imagine you’ve just arrived to an airsoft match and one of your mates wants you to “snap him a pro,” for his Facebook cover photo. There are many guys around so getting a picture with only him in sight, will mean loosing the few first rounds of the match. So, same as a sniper, you relocate to a favorable position and set your sights on the subject.
What you want to do, is center him onto the first vertical line on the left, keeping the people, or objects, in the background off these lines, and with the lighting adjusted on him.
Just as automatic fire increases the chances of hitting something, the same goes with your camera, take as many pictures as you can, making small changes, and one or more of these will hit the target.
Try another one with intersection of either the top or bottom horizontal lines on his or her replica.
To quote one of my favorite characters in modern history “If your pictures is not good enough, you aren’t close enough.” Sometimes you must “cut” your subject in the frame in order to get closer to what you want. Use this diagram below as a guideline.
Try different cuts.
Photo processing is the next big step but I will cover it in a following post.
For the moment, go outside and practice. Shoot as many as you can, select the best one, and share them for critique.
Article Written by YoLol