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Action Photography Tips and Tricks


Getting great photographs of the world in motion is a difficult task. More than any other kind of photography, action photography demands lightning-quick reflexes, a solid foundation in composition and other photo elements, and a little bit of luck. However, anyone can learn to take great action photos if you're willing to invest the time and effort needed to understand the methods. Here are some techniques on how you can get started taking action photos.

Know Your Subject Matter

Because of the critical impact timing has on action photography, it is important that you understand what you are shooting. For example, with basketball, if you're not near the basket, you won't get a good picture of the next dunk. Take the time before your shoot to learn about how the activity you are documenting works so that you'll be able to anticipate what happens next and position yourself accordingly.

Get the Subject in Action

Try and capture your subject at the absolute peak moment of whatever that activity is. If you're taking shots of snowboarders jumping off a ramp, do you want the landing, the launch, or the highest point of the jump? Action photography is very striking when you are able to grab the most interesting part of the action, so make sure you're thinking about that before you shoot.

Focus in Advance

Many professional photographers will focus their cameras on an empty space where they expect something to happen. This is an easy thing to do if you know the activity you're shooting, and will save you valuable time when someone is flying through the air in your frame and you have milliseconds to react.

Pan with the Subject

It is important in action photography that you convey motion in the final print. While some subjects will have obvious motion, such as a basketball player frozen mid-dunk, others may require a bit of work on your part. Panning is moving the camera with your subject as they pass by. This will give you the end result of the subject being clearly in focus but the background being blurred by the motion of the camera.

Having the Right Film and Using a Flash

For action photography, a high speed film of 800 or above is usually best. High speed film will let you use faster shutter speeds in more varied light situations and help you to freeze actions perfectly. A flash can also be quite helpful in capturing those ultra-fast moments, though it is worth noting that the great majority of consumer level camera flashes won't have much use beyond 10 feet.

Continue the Action

If possible, try to avoid stopping the action of a subject in your picture. While freezing an action in progress is a good goal for an action shot, allow the viewer room to follow the action to a possible conclusion. For example if you have someone jumping down some stairs, position the subject near the top of the picture and have some stairs below so it's easier to understood the outcome of the action.

Shoot Digital

Action photography does take a lot of practice and patience and also used to take an enormous amount of film. Thanks to digital technology, now you can practice shooting without going through a lot of film and spending a lot of money refining your skill. And even better, many digital SLRs have continuous shooting modes that allow you to shoot 10-50 images in rapid succession so you can have more opportunities for the perfect shot.

The most important things in action photography are having fun and staying safe. You never want to get in a position where you could put yourself or someone else in harms way so try to only shoot in areas where photographers are expected and allowed. Beyond that, the more you shoot, the better you'll get!

 


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