6 Quick Tips for Shooting Better Action Photos

by Jasmine Huang May 14, 2007

WHEN OUT ON THE ROAD, the few seconds it takes to pull out your camera, focus, and capture a shot can mean the difference between an award winning photo or a blurry mess.

With image stabilization technology built into digital cameras, it’s easier than ever to capture crisp and clear images. However, unsteady hands, low light, and other factors can still hamper your photography efforts.

With the following quick tips in mind, accurately shooting a moving object isn’t as hard as you think.

1. Position

First, you need to position yourself to find the best angle. If you know what you’re shooting before-hand, like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, a street parade, etc, you can anticipate the movement of your subject. If you’re snapping photos in the moment, you must be able to quickly follow your subject and reposition yourself constantly.

2. Lighting

Be aware of where the light comes from. Shooting into the light results in overexposed images like this one. The colors in the background and the foreground are completely washed out.

3. Flash

Avoid using flash. Photos taken under nature lighting look the best, preserving the true color of the image.

4. Focus

Focus on your moving object by pressing the shutter button halfway. This causes the camera to process all the variables such as distance, metering, and lighting.

As soon as all the values are confirmed and the moving object is locked, you’ll see a green light in the viewfinder and/or hear a beep. At that point, press the shutter button all the way down to take the shot.

5. Re-focus

Now, what if the object moved out of the focus before you could shoot it? You’ll need to re-focus and re-compose your photo. Repositioning yourself helps sometimes, but you can also reposition by using the zoom.

If you have a digital camera with 10x or higher optical zoom, it’ll allow you to shoot more versatile photos. You can afford to shoot from far away and still capture crisp and clear action shots.

Best of all, you’ll be able to capture objects in their most natural state unaware of any intruding lenses. Here are two shots in comparison. The one zoomed in shows clear facial expression of the surfer in action.

6. Sequential Shooting

Many people aren’t aware their digital camera offers sequential shooting mode, which takes multiple frames per second at high resolution. Why not use it?

Just keep your finger on the shutter button, and leave the rest to the camera. It’s that easy. You’ll be surprised at some of the photos taken in this mode.

If you’re still unsure of your abilities before your trip, practice shooting action photos on anything that moves constantly: your dog or cat, your nieces and nephews, even birds in your local park.

You’ll find a new photographer’s skill in you that was there all along.

Discover Matador