Action Photography

Action Photography for Beginning Photographers

As a beginning photographer you will eventually want to practice action photography. Action photography is a lot like shooting a rifle or pistol. It takes practice, technique and planning to take a great action photo. Here are X  pointers to help you get the best action photo.

Action Photography Pointer 1- Plan Ahead

Anticipate where the action is going to be and set up your camera there. If you are shooting a motocross event then you know where the motorcycles will be in the air when they come off the jumps. If you are shooting a basketball or hockey game then you know that the most action is near the goals. You want to capture faces during the action so make sure you are clear of obstructions and other heads. Anticipate where the sun will be or other bright lights will be so you can use the light to your advantage.

Action Photography Pointer 2- Practice Shooting Moving Targets

You will need to learn to pan or move your camera while keeping the subject in focus. One easy way to practice this is have someone shoot basketballs and you try to capture the image of the ball just above the rim. Practice action photography at local school sporting events. You will be able to move more freely than at a professional event. Another good way to practice  action shots is to photograph moving cars.

Surfer in action - Ventura, CA
Surfer in action – Ventura, CA

Action Photography Pointer 3 – Pre-set and Pre-Focus

Action photography will require higher shutter speeds and larger aperture openings. You need a lot of light in a very short time to capture an action photo clearly. Pre-focus your lens on a given spot where you know your subject will be passing. Rehearse the subject’s trajectory through the frame and practice the camera movement before your subject is actually in the frame. That way you will be ready for when the real action happens.

Action Photography Pointer 4 – Shoot From a Low Angle

Shooting from eye level or lower will make your subject larger than life. Look at the cover of any sports magazine and you will notice that most of the action photos make the subject look like they are flying because the photo is shot from a low angle. Put more action in your photo by getting down.

Learning photography - action pet photography
Dog in action at Soter Beach, CA

Action Photography Pointer 5 – Keep Shooting & Review Later

Shoot as many pictures as you can.  If your camera has a burst mode use it. It will take many pictures to find just one or two that are perfect so keep shooting. One mistake beginning photographers make is they keep looking and reviewing the shots they just took. They end up missing great action photos because they were not ready. There will be plenty of time to look at your pictures later. For now, just keep shooting.

Action Photography Pointer 6 – Shoot with Both Eyes and a Gentle Finger

Practice action photography with both eyes open.  It will feel unusual at first but it will help you compose a scene and track a moving subject easier. In the excitement of the moment a beginning photographer gets excited and tends to mash the button down which creates camera shake and a blurry picture. Practice using the gentlest pressure to press the shutter button.

Bill shoveling snow - Henrietta, NY
Bill shoveling snow – Henrietta, NY

Action photography creates some of the most memorable and interesting photographs of any photography. Capturing a fast moving object or person frozen in time is very satisfying for a photographer and you should give it a try if you have not. Practice and planning are essential but it won’t take long until you see the dramatic results.C

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