Tips for Shooting Action Photography Part 1

When shooting action, such as sports or wildlife photography, there are no second chances. You get one opportunity to capture that special moment and hopefully these tips will help you accomplish that goal. In Part 1 we will look at preparedness and then how to set your camera to make the shot, in Part 2.

1. Know Your Gear

It’s critical that you are very familiar with the buttons and dials on your camera; regardless of your personal setup. You need to be able to move your thumb to back button focus, adjust your focus point or zone, change to burst/continuous mode and the like, all without moving your they from the viewfinder.

It’s all about practice and muscle memory.

2. Know Your Subject / Sport

Once you have a knowledge of how the sport is played or how/where the subject will move, position yourself in the best place to capture the action.  Take the case of football for example, position yourself on the sideline with the sun at your back for that great sidelight. Even better if you know the key players who are likely to handle the ball or make those big hits - track them. But whatever you do don’t try and shoot that magic score from the same spot - nobody wants to see the rear-end of a player scoring.

Similarly with wildlife, watch for signs that will trigger movement and better still, come to know some of their behaviours beforehand.

3. Perspective

Changing up your perspective can give you that unique capture.  Getting low will give your image that sense of being amongst the action as well as power and size for the subject.  At worst try and shoot at eye level and not down upon your subject, as this will tend to minimise the importance or impact of your subject.

4. Don’t Strangle Your Subject

In action photography it goes without saying that you want to capture your subject moving. For your image to work, to ‘sell’ the concept of movement, you out provide space for your subject to move into. For example an animal or player that is moving from left to right must have ample room on the right side of the frame to move into. If all the space is on the left of frame, this is dead or wasted space and your subject is about to exit the frame.

Now we've taken care of our preparations, it's time to setup our camera and shoot .... we'll take care of that next time!

  • Alan Barker says:

    Please feel free to leave any comments on our blog

  • Chris Goodwin says:

    Another good practical tutorial Alan – great picture of the pelican and your comment about leaving “space”, and more learnings for me – Chris

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