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Master The Art Of Action Photography In 8 Easy Steps

Planning to fill the frame with some rough and tough actions? Here’s a pillar article about mastering action photography and has all you need to know to go and shoot action. Be it Michael Jordan struggling to basket the ball or your kid railing around the house, these quick action photography tips will help you freeze the motion in style.

  1. Carry The Right Equipment

    If you can, carry a wide range zoom lens which will help you in framing your subject and all the action on the field. It is important to note that you will almost be shooting from the periphery of the field and having a wide angle zoom lens will help you in focusing over a wider field of view.

  2. Use The Correct Settings

    Set the camera to programmed mode or shutter priority mode. In order to freeze the action you will want to be able to choose a high shutter speed. 1/250 sec is a good estimate to start with. Just wait! Did I not mention the sports mode? Let’s include it now. Your camera’s sports mode is smart enough to freeze the motion of the players to timelessness.

  3. Use The Right Techniques

    There’s more than just freezing the subject. Panning is a wonderful technique which exhibits your expertise as a professional photographer. While this technique works best for racing cars, you can always intentionally introduce the motion blur to heighten the sense of motion and movement. Slow sync rear flash and relatively slower shutter speeds can help you capture the activity if the scene.

  4. Anticipate

    Be prepared and anticipate the moment. The more you shoot, the better you’ll get at it. Some of the most spectacular moments are captured only because the photographer used the shutter at the right moment — the moment when the player is all set to crush the opponents and move towards the victory.

  5. Continuous Shooting Mode

    The camera by default shoots one frame per shutter release. You may want to set it to shoot in the continuous mode so that it keeps clicking while you keep the shutter release pressed. This way you’ll be able to take more the one shot for the action you want to capture. In the end you can always pick the best ones.

  6. Image Format

    Shoot in fine JPEG. RAW format creates huge files (check out more on RAW format here). This means your card will fill sooner than you expect in the continuous mode. Secondly it also tends to slow down the frame rate because the camera buffer is still occupied before the camera can take the next shot.

  7. Focus Mode

    Set the camera to use continuous focus. You may have to dig into the menus to get to this setting. Normally the camera focuses only once when you press the shutter release button halfway. When you use continuous focus and hold down the shutter release button halfway and follow that running guy, the camera will continuously keep the moving subject in focus. Comes in very handy if the subject is changing the distance from the camera (like running towards or away from you).

  8. Freeze The Action At Night

    Lighting conditions are challenging in the night. Use the high ISO setting. Firing the flash will make sure that the subject is lit only for a fraction of a second even though the shutter speed may be low. This will eventually freeze the subject to a considerable extent since the subject was lit only for a brief moment. This technique can be applied for shooting indoor games as well.

Exercise: Freeze The Action

Here’s a exercise to put your action shooting skills to use.

  • Find a suitable place to shoot action. If you can, you’ll get some good action happening on a busy road.
  • Set the shutter speed to 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500 for various shots.
  • Also practice panning at these shutter speeds.
  • Compare the results on the computer screen.
  • Share your best shots here.

Also, check out sports photography tips for more insights on capturing the motion, movement and action.

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2 comments… add one
  • I agree with these steps. Everything should be set, so that if your on the site you are ready and just take and take pictures. It save time and your energy. Great pictures on flicker!

  • Stefanie @Amber Bishop Photography Oct 29, 2011 @ 7:50

    Thanks for sharing those tips. Now I know how to capture a perfect photos like a professional artist do.

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