Sunday, May 1, 2016




Action Photography is a lot of fun.  Almost every photographer must learn this skill.  Even if you think you just want to do landscape photography all your life, you will someday need to know what it takes to do this type of photography.  At least the basics.  So, take a good read through these two articles.  I think there is some good information here to help you understand all you need to know.  Then you will be ready for this type of photography when the time comes.

Digital camera owners who are not that experienced in taking photos often find it hard to capture the action scenes they so desire. With their subjects being mobile, they may not be aware of what to do with their camera to take the best action shots.
photographing a rodeo
photo by Emil Kepko
Indeed, it can be quite a challenge to engage in sports and action photography. Movements are fast and unpredictable, so you need to be quick in clicking your shutter. Whatever type of digital camera you have, you really need to take the extra effort to take clear pictures of people and animals in motion. It’s also best to learn the right techniques so you won’t get frustrated with your photos.
In action and sports photography, the most important factors to keep in mind are pre-focusing and timing, especially for very fast moving or far away subjects. It pays to be alert and ready with your camera so that anytime you see an action worth capturing, you can do it instantly.

Pre-focusing means locking the focus of your camera to the scene where you want to take your shots (consider using AF to lock onto the spot, then simply switch to manual focus so you say focused on that spot). This technique will lower the lag time between the pressing of your shutter release button and the actual taking of the image. This step will also help you plan your shots well.
jumping dancer
photo by torbakhopper

In terms of timing, you will need to learn the shutter-lag delay of your own camera. Shutter-lag delay remains a fact despite the advancement in digital camera technology. Some DSLRs still have an issue with this.
To determine your camera’s shutter-lag delay, first take a test shot and observe the lag. Take note of how long it is so that you can pre-shoot to compensate for that lag. Normally, it’s only a matter of seconds but then in action photography, keep in mind that time is gold if you want to take the best shots possible.

Panning is another way of capturing great action scenes. Think if it as following your subject, such as a football player, a cyclist, or race car, with your camera as you snap the photograph. Some of you may be surprised to know that panning actually helps in taking clearer photos of a subject in motion than when photographing it while you’re holding still, because it helps capture subjects in which you are matching the speed of their movement. Having an optical viewfinder will be very helpful for this purpose.
car race panning
photo by darren price

Using your camera’s flash is also a great tactic to capture unique action shots. It’s best to use the flash when you’re closer to the subject and when the scene is dark. This technique helps to freeze the action and highlight your subject more. As the light is focused on the subject, the background will usually become blurry resulting in a beautiful effect. Just remember to always plan your shot, pre-focus, and pan to capture wonderful photos with your subject standing out from the scene.
skateboard flash photography
photo by Luiz Oliveiraa
About the Author:
Kalyan Kumar writes for, a camera store in business for 40 years.


For the most part, the world around us is in motion. Some things move slowly while some move faster. Slow moving things are plants, turtles, snails etc. Fast moving things are baseballs, cars, ocean waves etc. As photographers we thrive to capture every detail and display it via our photos. We want to capture these movements and motions to make our work more creative. The process of freezing motion and movement is called action photography. After you decide what you want to shoot you must decide how you want it to appear in your photo. In other words you want to know how to convey the motion to the viewers. There are two ways of conveying.
motion photography
“Sound Barrier” captured by Scott A. Pope (Click Image to See More From Scott A. Pope)

Blurring motion:
This method of conveying is used when we want to remind the viewer that motion is taking place. This method works best for less dramatic effects. For example when picturing a moving ocean wave we want to use blurring method.
Freezing motion:

This method is used when the motion is obvious. For example when a pitcher is pitching a baseball the motion of the arm is obvious. We use freezing method when shooting actions such as a person jumping in air or a soccer player kicking the ball.

These two methods can be combined to give a more energetic look to your image. Things like an outfielder catching the ball are good for this combination. In other words we blend these two when one thing is moving relatively quicker than the other. In the above case it was the fast ball vs. the fielder’s slower jump.

The first thing that you need to understand for action photography is the use of shutter speed or exposure length. We need to have the shutter fast enough to capture the motion. The settings differ from photo to photo.
action photo
Photo captured by Kameron Barney (Click Image to See More From Kameron Barney)
For example a splash of water will require close to 1/1000 of a second while a child running may require 1/200 of a second. You may have to play around with other parameters such as ISO and aperture to get the exposure right when changing the shutter speed.

After deciding the method of conveying you have to determine the placement of the subject in the photograph. All the basic rules of photography still apply to action photography. Rules such as leading lines, centering and rule of thirds should be kept in mind when composing the picture. And also remember that our only purpose is not to freeze the motion only but there is more to it. For example when we capture an athlete running towards the right of the frame we want to give extra space on the right. This is to emphasize and point out of the path of the run. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. One example is when picturing short burst motions. For example a kick-boxer kicking doesn’t have a direction. You can capture this in the middle of the frame. We can care less about the direction of his leg after the kick has been kicked.

There is always that perfect moment when shooting any type of image. However, it is a little more important in action photos. Camera manufacturers have introduced the feature of multi burst to help the users. In this mode the camera takes multiple exposures per second in a hope to capture that perfect moment. It is a good feature and it is helpful in most cases but not always. This drives the photographer to believe in a false security and might be deceiving. The user might press the button before time and hope the camera catches the best moment. This is only useful for continuous motions but when shooting short actions you want to avoid the multi burst feature. For example a kiwi dropping in water only happens short and the camera doesn’t find that good timing. For short motions you must understand your camera shutter lag time and have an understanding of the motion to take the picture yourself rather than relying on the camera’s multi burst feature. Also remember that when the image shows in your view-finder it is already too late to capture it. You have to practice to get your timing right. So get out there and practice.
tips for capturing motion
“Piranha Swimming” captured by shadley (Click Image to See More From shadley)

You must use manual focus for freezing objects in motion. All cameras require some amount of time to auto focus and we don’t have this time in action photography. For example a baseball coming towards you will be gone by the time your camera can focus on it. You want to have your camera focused before your subject reaches the point of interest. Action photography is widely used in sports events.
About the Author:
This article was written by Balal Rizvi of RQ Studios.
A special thanks to PictureCorrect and the authors (in red) who have supplied these articles.


Have you thought about submitting a photo about Spring?  I am still looking forward to your submissions of photos about what you see about spring that you have taken photos of this year.
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