Taking action shots doesn't have to be impossible, here is how...

Action shots

We’ve all been there! Blurred that no sharpen tool in postproduction would help. Kiddies were having fun in the pool (for once not screaming at each other) and little ones were sleeping so I decided to get some shots ofthem jumping in the pool and splashing water.

It didn’t take long, perhaps 10 minutes, just enough to take few extra photos just in case I didn’t get it right and short enough before it could turn into a competition lol!

Here are just few quick tips on how to make the most of your camera for moving subject:

If you are taking action shots, the most important thing is to have your shutter speed fast enough to freeze a moment! You can either freeze the entire photo (subject and splashing water or child on the bike) or just your subject (leaving the water moving or a child on a bike with blurred out background). The latter is more technical and if you would like to know more please comment below and I will do another blog on this subject going in more details on camera settings.

Depending on camera we use – nowadays I guess we use smartphones on day to day basis capturing moments around us and to capture moving subjects (if close enough) I would try to use flash especially in sunny weather as it will also fill in the shadows on their faces, especially when is around middle of the day when the sun is high (you need to switch flash on manually as if the settings are set on Auto, when camera doesn’t need the “extra” light, flash wont fire off automatically). 

If your subject is not so close or you want to capture bit of surrounding too, there is no benefit of flash as it wont reach far enough to freeze the movement, don’t let the phone camera choose the focus point but select the focus and exposure yourself. To do so,  tap the screen where you want to focus on (your subject), adjust exposure by pushing the “sun” which will appear on the side, slide up or down, depending whether you want your image lighter or darker and hold on your focal point until you see AE/AF lock on top of your screen to lock focus and exposure. 

For compact cameras I would advise to switch the settings to Shutter priority or 'Action' where the camera is set for moving subject and the shutter speed is set faster.

For DSLR users there are 2 options: either set your camera for Shutter Speed priority and set it to around 1/1000 or faster depending how fast your subject/object is OR go manual settings and by setting your Aperture/Shutter speed and ISO for optimum exposure create the results you set to do. Just for information, most of the shots below were shot at F4.5, 1/640 s and 200 ISO. I could have gone faster on shutter I guess but the result is pretty good. There is always next time ;)

Whatever the camera, whether it’s smartphone, compact or DSLR, there are few things to remember when shooting action shots to get the best results:

1.     Frame – think of the final picture! Your subject will stand out from the background if you choose “cleaner” background without too much distraction.

2.     Light – these shots below are shot with DSLR against the light because if I shot from the other side, my subjects would have sun in their eyes and most probably squinting. Also sun behind my subject means that they appear more 3D and pop out from the background as the sun is shining back at them. Also it is much easier to take action shots outside than indoors, the lack of light compensates the shutter speed (technically speaking, your camera lens needs to be open for longer – slower shutter speed, for enough light to come in).

3.     Get closer – zoom or too drastic post cropping will worsen quality of the image so just few steps closer to your subject and turning your camera/phone different way (portrait or landscape) can make a massive difference.

4.     Patience and prediction – it may be that you take quite few photos before you get what you set out to capture but be patient (as long as your subject is willing). You can also predict what is likely to happen next (child on bike turning, jumping, sliding etc.) so lock your focus and fire at the right moment.

5.     Download an app – there are quite few apps that take the pressure of when capturing action, some will take a video and you can choose the best shot within, some will take few shots within a second so you can choose the right one. Turbo Camera, (i)Freeze Frame HD, Action Snap, Morense… just to name but few.

Hopefully these are helpful and next time you shoot your children jumping in puddles, you can implement and take a snapshot worth keeping :)

If you would like to share some action, I would love to see and as usual any comments/feedback welcome!

#photographybypetra #actionphotography #children #jumpinginthepool