Action Photography Tips

Today, while at the pool, a thought occurred to me.  We haven’t chatted about Action Photography yet.  (Yes, sweet friends, you were on my mind, wish you could have joined me).

We stayed at the pool…way too long!  Friends kept staggering in so we stayed for a bit longer, then a bit longer…isn’t that what summer is really all about?  ***see my concern below***   I told a few of you that next week I’m going to open up my blog to a little homeschooling chat…something I haven’t done before and probably won’t repeat, mainly because sharing Simply Inspired Home Living is my “thing.”  But  you’ve asked and I feel this is the right time to lay it all out there.  With August quickly approaching and many changes ahead for us, I’m excited to speak candidly with you!  All that is for another time…next week!

Since it’s Friday, let’s have a little Photography Friday heart to heart!  How many of you take photographs at events that involve action!?!  Sporting Events?  Ballet Performances?  Your Child on a Bike?  Toddlers who have begun running and do nothing else now?  Here are some tips to help you capture better Action Photography:

1. Get the Camera Set-Up. 

  • Remember when we talked about memory cards?  You’ll definitely want a card with a fast write speed for action photography.
  • You’ll want to make sure that you are using a lens that has an image stabilizer feature such as, Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR.  The VR stands for vibration reduction.
  • Have we talked about quality of shooting!?  I don’t think I’ve gone there yet, but if you look at your camera’s menu button, then looking at your camera settings, scroll down to image quality and for action pictures you don’t want to shoot in RAW…I usually choose ‘normal’.  One of these days we’ll go there, but for now, just trust me that doing this will allow you to capture a few more pics per second.
  • Change your camera to continuous shooting mode.  This is different for every camera.  Here’s a little help for my Nikon readers.  On a mid-range camera: hold down the drive mode button (this is the button by the shutter release that has a few rectangles stacked on top of each other) and spin the main command dial until your display shows the stacked rectangles with an H).  For a high-end camera: Push the button next to the command dial to unlock this feature and then turn the dial below the main command dial until the line is indicating you have set chosen CH (continuous high).
  • Point your camera on where the action is heading, focus (press button down halfway) and then start clicking when the action comes into your frame. If you try to move your camera to follow the action, you will not have crisp pictures. (Thanks, Donna)!

2. Get Yourself Set-Up.

  • Think through where you should stand to capture the most action (you may have to plan on moving here and there, too).
  • When taking action pictures, plan on capturing a larger area than when taking portraits.  Leaving the area where your subject is traveling in your frame will create more interest and help you not miss the next moment!
  • Try to capture three quick bursts, lift your finger, then shoot three more quick bursts throughout the high action moments.  Doing this will help ensure that your camera has time to process and doesn’t choose to take a little nap at the moment you need it most.

3. Shoot Creatively.

  • Most of the time action photography is best depicted from a powerful angle.  Whether a ten year old sprinting towards a goal or a two year old running with fiery passion from her mommy…the subject at that moment usually sees the world as small.  By getting down low with your camera, you will capture a very true to life dramatic action picture.
  • If you think through those times when your child is running quickly towards the goal or your determined baby is sprinting towards something with complete mischievousness, the spirited look in their eyes is definitely golden, so be sure to include the subject’s eyes in your action shots!

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  1. Sandy says:

    Thank you for the great photography tips. I got a new Canon Power Shot camera last year, and I’m still learning how to use all of the different features on it. I really appreciate your helpful tips!

  2. Donna says:

    Great tips. One more: Point your camera on where the action is heading, focus (press button down halfway) and then start clicking when the action comes into your frame. If you try to move your camera to follow the action, you will not have crisp pictures.

    I am an action photographer, and this is the best tip I can ever give someone who asks how they can get better action pictures.

  3. Laura says:

    I always love to get new tips on taking pictures, thanks for sharing!! Laura from Real Momma stopping by to say thanks for linking up to the Best of Your Best blog hop!

  4. I can’t wait to try this for fall soccer! I would love it if you would come link up at my Best of Your Best Blog Hop

  5. Sharon says:

    Thanks!! I have learned a lot! You are a great teacher!

  6. Brandi says:

    Great tips, Aimee! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Allie - This Yellow House says:

    Yay! I’m excited about hearing about your homeschooling! I’m planning on homeschooling my children too. Thanks so much for sharing the photography tricks! I will be sure to keep those in mind. 🙂