Fast shutter speed photography tips

Photo Tip #63: Zombie Apocalypse - Getting the shot

As the zombie apocalypse is apparently impending, now is a great time to address everyone's burning question, How to photograph zombies? Because after all if you don't do it who will believe that a zombie apocalypse is upon us? And you'll need great photos too because you need your Instagram page to go viral!

But before you head outside, heed some safety advice. First and foremost use common sense. Zombies are dangerous! Keep your distance. Although some are slow moving many can go frantic so wear comfortable running shoes! Zombies almost always want to kill you, so a selfie is out of the question! No selfies!

Equipment list: 
Make sure you carry only the equipment you need in case you need to make a run for it. Now is not the time for a tripod! A monopod may be helpful because it can be used as a weapon too. Depending on the type of zombie you will probably want to use a long zoom lens. But if they are moving very slowly you may want to chance getting close so a medium zoom can be OK, but never ultra wide or fish eye! That's just asking for it. As zombies tend to be found in low light, you'll need a camera with superior ISO capabilities. A flash is probably not a great idea because it may provoke them to move towards you. So turn off your flash!

Because you will be in low light, be sure to remove any type of filter that reduces your light gathering capabilities like a polarizer. Be sure to use a fast lens - something that has an f-stop of 2.8 or better; this will help you keep your shutter speed high. Now is not the time for a prime lens unless you are shooting something over 200mm. You don't want to have to change your lens all the time! You will also want a huge memory card because you wouldn't to have to reload in the middle either. Carry as many extra batteries as you can, you won't know when you will be able to recharge.

If you have slow moving zombies, you can chance getting closer. However, you never want to stand so close that they can just reach out and grab you. With that in mind, shooting between 35 mm and 105 mm is probably the right place to be. It will give reasonable close ups without being dangerously close. With slow moving zombies you will be able to shoot as slow as 1/125 of a second. It is preferable that you use shutter priority with auto ISO. This will help guarantee a sharp image and the right exposure.

If, on the other hand, you have fast moving zombies, you'll need to keep your distance. It's probably best to have a 200 mm lens or longer. Preferably longer. You will again want to use shutter priority. And start with a shutter speed of 1/500 or even faster. Because you are using such a long lens you'll also want to use a monopod for extra stability. However make sure that you have a quick release on the head as you'll want to be able to disengage quickly from the monopod in case you need to make a run for it. Or in case you need to use the monopod as a weapon.

Another consideration is your memory card. You will probably want to change your cards very often; being sure to put your used cards into your pocket. Why? Because in the event that you must make a run for it and actually have to ditch your equipment you will still have a pocket full of images. If you use one large memory card and somehow loose your camera to a grabbing zombie, then you will have nothing left.

Remember, your equipment is never worth your life and neither is a photo. If you want to make sure that you have great photos of zombies so you can warn others, you will need to be alive to share them.

Good luck and happy shooting!