Free Action Photography Cheat Sheet
Action. Use these tips to ensure you get the most out of moving subjects, whatever they are...
- Get it tight... Motorsports. The action is often predictable in motorsport races - find the best corner and pre-focus on the spot the vehicles keep passing over. Switch focus to MF to "lock" the setting and concentrate on panning and
composition: 1) Be bold with framing - here the crop adds to the excitement; 2) Finding a low shooting position can help the viewer feel closer to the action; 3) The sand clouds kicked up by the rear wheel give the shot an energy
boost - the bike, and the photo, might look a bit static otherwise.
- Get it tight... Flash. A bit of flash used in "slow sync" model will add definition and sharpness to an action shot that has been taken using a slow shutter speed: 1) Here, the dogs' faces and forelegs have been frozen by the flash while
the rest of the scene is blurred due to the longer exposure from the ambient light; 2) If the subject's moving across the frame, use the flash in "rear curtain sync" mode, so any "ghosting" appears behind the subject; 3) Tilt the camera so
the horizon's on a jaunty angle. This can add dynamism.
- Get it right... Family. The best subject to hone your action photography skills may be sat right under your nose (or on your sofa, watching TV): 1) Even if there's plenty of light, don't be afraid to increase the ISO to get action -
stopping shutter speeds - a noisy but sharp picture of your kids having fun is preferable to a blurred one that you bin; 3) Give the subject plenty of room in the frame - compose the shot to give more "active space" in front of them than
behind them; 3) Get down to kids' level with a wide-angle lens to make the action seem larger than life.
- Get it right... Creative blur. Leave the camera locked on a tripod and allow the subject to move across the frame during a slow exposure. You're not trying to capture detail, but the mood of the moment: 1) A zoom burst effect can add
an additional energetic twist - simply zoom the lens out or in during the exposure; 2) This shot works because some detail is still retained - the player, ball and parts of the crowd provide entry points into the picture for viewers; 3)
When taking motion blur shots, consider over-exposing slightly to create a more painterly effect.
Action. Make sure you keep up with fast-moving subjects with our quick reference guide
- Shutter speed. The key successful action photography, apart from composition, is selecting the right shutter speed. To freeze fast action you need a fast shutter speed, to add motion blur you need a relatively slow one, so use Shutter
Priority mode to put you fully in control of this election. The shutter speed necessary to freeze the moment will depend on four things: 1) how much light is available; 2) How fast the subject's moving; 3) How "fast" your lens is (the
wider its ma aperture, the faster the shutter speeds); 4) The ISO that's set (high ISOs give faster speeds). Don't forget to... Use aperture priority (Av). If shooting at the fastest shutter speed for a given situation, select Av and dial in
your lens's widest aperture. Increase ISO as light levels decrease.
- Drive mode. Although you should time your shot for the peak of the action, a frame a fraction of a second before or after the amount may lead to a better shot. To ensure you get it, use your camera set to its continuous burst mode,
rather than single shot mode. Fire in short bursts so that the buffer doesn't take long to clear and you're always ready to fire.
- Panning. By selecting a slow shutter and panning your camera, you can get a sharp subject and blurred backdrop that gives a real sense of motion. Face the direction you want to take the shot and twist from your waist to track the
subject. Keep panning after you've pressed the shutter. If the movement's predictable, pre-focus on a spot the subject will pass.
- Panning. By selecting a slow shutter speed and panning your camera, you can get a sharp subject and blurred backdrop that gives as real sense of motion. face the direction you want to take the shot and twist from your waist to
track the subject. Keep panning after you've pressed the shutter. If the movement's spot the subject will pass.
Don't go without...
- Extra money. You'll always need more, especially if firing off multiple shots.
- Battery grip. For more power when shooting in your SLR's continuous mode.
- Monopod. Great for supporting long lenses when using panning techniques.
- Image stabilisation. Whether it's lens or camera-based, set stabilisation to "panning" mode if possible.
- Flashgun. A powerful add-on flash is key to creative slow-sync action shots.
Digital Camera | Kitbag Companion.