Action Photography Tips + Tricks by Photo Instructor/ Digital Imaging Guru
Article © 2018 by Jenna Caplette, with the expert assistance of Kathy Eyster, a member of the instructional staff at Bozeman’s F-11 Photo & The Print Refinery™.
Here’s the deal with photographing action: if you don’t get it right, you can’t fix it later with Photoshop. Out of focus is out of focus. Use these practical tips to get great action photos even with a point and shoot camera from photo instructor and digital imaging guru Kathy Eyster:
• Choose the “sports” mode or a similar setting that uses a fast shutter speed.
• Shoot in “continuous” shooting or “burst” mode. You’ll get as many frames as your camera can take for as long as you hold the button down, increasing your odds of getting a great picture. Your flash usually won’t fire in these modes, so this may not stop action in low-light situations.
• Photographing the action closest to you will give you the best shots.
• Use a technique called “focus lock.” Imagine you’re at a race and you want to photograph your sister crossing the finish line. The finish line isn’t going to move. Set your camera up and frame the shot that you want to get using the finish line as your point of focus. Hold the shutter button halfway down and then shoot just as your sister crosses the line. This allows the camera to pre-focus
on the spot where the action will be giving you a crisp, clear image.
• Anticipate the action and start shooting ahead of time.
• Try a technique called “panning.” Follow your subject with your camera, keeping the subject in the same spot in the frame. Your subject should be traveling left or right or vice-versa, rather than moving toward you or away from you. When a cross-country skier glides by, focus on the skier and press the shutter in continuous shooting mode. The skier will be sharp and the background blurry, expressing speed.
A large part of action photography is timing, which requires observation and strategy. The more you know about the pattern of activity, the better your images will be. However, it’s difficult to both watch an event and photograph it. If you decide to photograph, prepare to take a lot of pictures. Pack a spare battery and an extra memory card so you don’t run out of power or space on your memory card before the event ends. You’ll take hundreds of pictures and you’ll get a few you like. Toss the bad images, celebrate the good ones. Print. Repeat.
Be sure to visit Eyster’s helpful website for more tips you can use every day: essentialdigitalcamera.com.