Taking great action photos is no simple task. This type of photography, more than any other, demands that the photographer has lightning-quick reflexes, a firm foundation in composition and more than a little bit of luck. Having said that, with the right dedication anyone can learn to take truly great action photographs. If you are prepared to put a little time aside and learn the methods that are needed, practice, practice and practice some more then fantastic action photos could soon become a part of your portfolio.
Free photo sharing sites are a great place to find inspiration for your action photography, so read on to discover our top tips for action photography that will help you get started.
Study your subject matter
The timeframe available to you for taking your action photos is minimal so it is a good idea to make sure that you understand the subject that you will be photographing before you start. If you are hoping to take an action photograph of a high jumper then you need to be near the jump itself. This is where the important stuff happens, and where you will capture that all important shot of the jumper in mid-air arching over the high jump. Anticipate where the most exciting part of the action will take place and make sure that is where you are.
Capture the action
If there are a number of points where there will be action you need to decide which point is the one you want to capture. If you are photographing someone making a jump of some kind, consider whether you want to capture the launch, the highest part of the jump or the landing. Obviously, you won’t be able to capture all three. Which element will look best in your photo? If you have the luxury of time, watch the action take place a couple of times to see which bit would make the best photo. Consider how you will compose your photo, what angle you will take the photo from and then get ready to shoot.
Focus in advance
Much of action photography is about working out and anticipating where the action will take place in order to set up the shot. This means focusing on the empty space where you have calculated the part of the action you want to capture will take place. This is why you need to know your subject well. When the action is happening it will not be possible to focus, all you will have time to do is shoot the photograph and hope that you set it up properly. Your reaction times must be quick and hopefully everything will work out the way you want it to.
When you take an action shot you want to make sure that you convey the concept of motion in your photograph. Some photos will indicate obvious motion, for example a basketball player who is captured in mid-air, but there will be others that need a little work from you, if you pan when you shoot your subject then this will show your subject clearly whilst the background will become blurred.
Use a flash and the right ISO
A high ISO is the best choice when it comes to action photos. This will allow you to use shutter speeds that are faster in a range of different light situations and this in turn will ensure that you can freeze any action shots that you want to take perfectly. If you are capturing very fast movements then using a flash will also help. Although it is important to remember that the majority of built-in flashes do not work well for distances of over 10 feet.
With all this in mind, you’re sure to be able to work on your action photography skills so you improve the quality of the photographs you capture.