Burst Mode in Street Photography

"Spray and Pray", as the purists like to call it. Sounds terrible doesn’t it? It sounds like how I imagine potty training is going to be when we decide to tackle that with our daughter. Actually, in that context, burst mode doesn’t sound too appealing either.

For a while I honestly hated the idea of shooting bursts of images, either for street photography or portraits. Trusting the timing of the images to the camera. I’d tried it occasionally at events and it had just missed the ideal moment I wanted to capture, with images slightly too early and slightly too late. And it just isn’t much fun. It feels like you don’t know quite what you want, so you just collect a load of shots and see what comes out.

You know there’s a 'but' coming, right? I was out in Manhattan the other day and wanted to experiment. Shooting with the X100F I’m pretty much always in auto focus and aperture priority with auto ISO set up to 3200 (maybe 6400 at night). Aperture anything from f/2 to f/11 depending on the type of shots I’m taking. Manual focus when necessary. But I wanted to try something different so started trying out the X100’s ND filter. Then I finished a roll of film on my Ricoh GR. Then went back to the X100 but in burst mode, kind of as a complete contrast to shooting with film.

And it was pretty effective. Of course I ended up with hundreds more images which is a pain to work through, but the X100 is certainly fast enough now and there are sequences where I’m not sure I would have seen and timed the best image that burst mode produced.

So is it the result that matters, or would it be better to practice more to get those single shots just right? I think some of both. I’m all for continued learning and taking the longer term view rather than always being concerned about immediate results. But part of that is also being familiar with, and knowing how to utilize, the current technology. I'm comfortable with manual focus but still choose the use auto focus most of the time.

I like the variety too. There are times when I’ll switch into burst mode now when I think it’s going to be most effective. For events and group shots too.

I think I'll still default to single shots in most cases though. It’s just more fun.