Shooting action and movement is a fun part of photography, and something that many photographers, from amateur to professional, find themselves doing on a regular basis. But it's often hard to get a great shot when your subjects are moving at a rapid pace. However, blurriness, out of focus shots and bad lighting can be easily avoided by following a few simple guidelines.
Here are some tips and tricks to consider when shooting the action using a digital SLR camera.
Shoot a lot of photos – The first main trick is to shoot a large number of frames at once. You'll need to set your DSLR on rapid burst, and capture a number of photos at once. You'll be likely to find at least one photo that you like, and pick the ones that turned out the best. If you want a simple option, choose the automatic ‘Sports mode' on your camera.
Increase shutter speed – Using very fast shutter speeds of 1/1000th of a second or 1/2000th of a second is especially important for subjects which are moving extremely fast, as shutter speeds this fast will literally freeze the action in the shot. However, you need a lot of light to shoot with such high shutter speeds, so shooting during the day or in a bright room is best, rather than at dawn, sunset or at night. If you do want a little bit of blur in your photographs, you can change your shutter speed to a slower setting, such as 1/40th or 1/50th of a second. It will give the slight illusion of movement rather than a completely static image.
Don't ignore the background – A great action shot can be ruined with a boring or unattractive background, so make sure you take as much care as you normally would when framing and positioning your shot.
Create your own movement – You can always create your own movement in a shot as well, by using a slightly slower shutter speed and moving the camera around to create movement effects in the shot. For a different effect, you can use a slower shutter speed and follow your subject as it moves across the shot. This will keep the subject relatively clear while blurring the background and maintaining the feeling of movement.
Use the right equipment – Various digital camera accessories can help you with shooting action and movement. A tripod can be a great tool when you want to experiment with panning and following your subject, while a high-speed flash can give you some great effects and lighting when shooting action in low light. The lens plays an important role as well. If you'll be far away from the action, make sure you choose an SLR lens with a high zoom range. A lens with extremely quick autofocus will also come in handy when you need to focus on a subject super quickly.
Be familiar with your subject matter – If you're shooting sport, be familiar with it. You'll know what moments to look for during gameplay, and you'll be more passionate about it as well.
Whatever kind of action you're shooting, whether it's a sports match or your kids' athletics carnival, have fun and experiment with different shutter speeds and lenses. There's no end to the great range of photographs you can achieve when shooting action.