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Capturing Action

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Published Feb 25, 2016 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 19 Contributors

    19 photos selected by

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    A boy crossing the light created by the walls in Old Bagan.

    #temple #myanmar #bagan

    Blown Away. That’s what I am after editing the “Capturing Action” assignment—just blown away with the quantity and quality of the photographs. This is the third assignment we’ve done with Microsoft’s support, and each one has surprised and delighted me, but none more so than “Capturing Action.” Editing down to the story images was difficult.

    Just so things are transparent, let me describe my editing process: I edit these assignments blind. That means, I don’t look at who shot the images or where they are from. I don’t even look at caption information. Initially I take a first pass through the photos and make a decision based on whether or not the image makes a connection with me. It’s in or out—this is a fast process with not much thought involved. Does the image work for me? If it does, I keep it.

    After choosing a relatively manageable number of pictures, I take another pass through and see which of those images makes sense for the assignment. We use a similar process with National Geographic stories, first selecting the successful images and then seeing what makes sense for the story.

    A solitary bison on the run in winter resembles ancient art as it pounds across the tundra in Yel...

    #bison #yellowstone_national_park

    Editor's Note

    The photographer has used several things to make this image come alive. Moving the camera with the subject gives a sense of movement and the very high iso adds to an almost impressionistic renditio... More

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    Stilian Kirov, former associate conductor for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, rehearses with the ...

    #music #people #culture #bw #blackandwhite #memphis #symphony #anticipatethemoment

    Then I begin comparing images. As you might expect in an action-oriented assignment, there was a good bit of subject overlap (lots of surfing, for example). Which among the similar images are best? Which ones capture action better? This is where things get sticky. Often, good images get left by the wayside, beat out by ones with just a little better light. Out of the finals I build the assignment. I saw images that astounded me.

    In india people cultivate the agricultural lands every year.In the process of producing paddy fie...

    #india #urban #travel #action #adventure #moment #blackandwhite #paddy #cultivation #fertilization

    when traveling or just finding out of places where people still live a life that is an experience...

    #woman #people #life #tradition #reportage #black_and_white #thehumanstory #anticipatethemoment

    Battling strong winds at Monte Piana in the Italian Dolomites during the international slackline ...

    #sky #monte #balance #extreme #slacklining #dolomiti #dolomites #dolomiten #piana

    Editor's Note

    I've seen A LOT of slacklining photos but this one just took my breath away. Wonderfully framed, dramatic back drop and jaw dropping drama.

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    One of the very low light shots i have taken in a local fair in bangalore... rarely i have seen t...

    #perspective #bike #freeze #speed #living #lowlight #money #physics #stuntman #well_of_death

    Motorcycle daredevils abounded, and the most astonishing was this cage of death image from India, called “The Stuntman’s Money." I've seen images like this but never knew that spectators handed the drivers money as they flew around the cage. That bill in hand makes this image so rich, it tells a story. In this motorcycle image the photographer went beyond just showing the stunt rider and included a member of the audience, making an image about what it’s like to be astonished by someone’s bravery.

    Barcelona, Spain.

    #barcelona #spain #childhood #extremesport #black__and_white

    Original Title: "Light! Camera! Action!". As the monsoon storm broke, the other photogr...

    #action

    On a foggy frosty day..

    #nature #dog #animal #winter #pet #cold #action #walk #frost

    Editor's Note

    white dog, white woods, white grass! monochromatic and beautiful.

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    The wave crashed on the sand bank and spread whole them into water. Painted the image like a sort...

    #beach #water #australia #surf #ocean #travel #wave #sports #surfer #surfing #mars #advanture #landsacape

    As I said, there were a lot of surfing images in the assignment, all of them good. But this one, “Surfing the Clouds,” rises to the surface.  The long exposure, the pan, and the low angle make me want to ride that wave, feel what the person on the surfboard surely must be feeling.

    Surfers love winters as the waves get bigger and the rides are longer. Contrary to popular belief...

    #surf #surfer #motion #surfing #blackandwhite #black_and_white #motion_blur

    Pipeline is considered to be the most localized surf spot in the world. If you are not from Hawai...

    #water #surf #nature #man #ocean #hawaii #waves #action #surfing #popular #trending

    The first thing that caught my eye was the magenta color from the sunrise sky reflecting off the ...

    #sunrise #pan #sandhill_crane #capturingactionassignment

    Editor's Note

    A beautifully done pan makes separates the crane from the back ground and give a sense of movement. The photographer has panned well and kept the crane's head sharp while letting the wings blur.

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    On the ocean, the white Camargue horses were running at me at full speed. I could have moved out ...

    #clouds #eyes #reflections #white #speed #france #horses #running #camargue

    If photographs were words, they would be poems, little slices lifted out of life and illuminated. Horses were a common theme in this assignment, and this image, “Out of My Way,” not only captures the power and grace of the horses, but it does so in wonderful light. The light elevates the image.

    From traditional sports to bullfighting in Oman and this photo was taken to the speed of their mo...

    #challenge #force #redbull #challenge_enmanuel_2014

    Amrinder, a rural jockey, practicing with his horse before selling it to a customer at Cattle Fai...

    #sport #racing #jockey #horserace #panning_horse

    Fisherman, Amarapura, Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar

    #fisherman #myanmar #burma #mandalay #amarapura

    Editor's Note

    Perfectly timed photo, just as the net hits the water, it is full of grace and beauty. The light is beautiful and gentle, lovely frame.

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    The red-crowned cranes in Japan are typically a symbol of grace but are hardly associated with br...

    #action #japan #red_crowned_crane

    Editor's Note

    Such a surprising image! Perfect action, and the cranes at the bottom of the frame add to the image.

    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer

    One of the things that I asked people to do in this assignment was to think of action in the sense of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment. Action is really just the right moment: the right moment to fire the shutter, the right moment to freeze, the right moment to immortalize. It can be the peak action of an epic struggle, as in “Samurai Crane,” or something from everyday life. Capturing images like that is a skill, and like most skills, the more we practice them the better we get. So don’t stop seeing action. Don’t stop hunting it just because the assignment is over; pull it into the way you see.

    About the Editor
    Stephen Alvarez
    National Geographic Photographer
    Photographer and filmmaker Stephen Alvarez produces stories of global exploration, adventure, and culture. Since 1995, Alvarez has worked with National Geographic magazine to create a number of stories that call on his caving expertise and lighting capabilities, including the discovery of an Incan mummy in Peru, the exploration of the ...

    Photographers Published In the Story