TIP 3: Composing Action Shots
Most action happens too quickly to allow you to carefully compose each image
and check the background for distractions. But you can check the background
(and lighting) before the subject arrives, and move to a different spot if background
or light aren't good.
Check the background and lighting before the subject arrives. If
the background is distracting, or the lighting unattractive, try
to find a new spot to set up.
Photo by Karel Kramer/Dirt Rider Magazine
While it's easier to keep a camera's wide, multi-point AF area on
a moving subject, most AF SLRs will respond more quickly if you use only the
central focusing point. If your camera doesn't seem to respond quickly
enough with action subjects, try using single-point AF instead of multi-point
are very tough subjects: Not only are they fast, they're also
erratic as they pursue tiny flying insects. This "mirror image"
occurred when a swallow flew near the water surface, which glowed
with sunrise color. Exposing for the color and letting the bird
go silhouette also provided a faster shutter speed--all the
better to catch a sharp image.
If you know the subject will pass a specific point, such as second base at a
baseball game with an expert base-stealer on first, you can prefocus manually
on that point, and thus be ready to shoot as the subject arrives. This eliminates
the time consumed by (and possible inaccuracy of) autofocusing.
moving subjects, it's generally preferable to leave some room
in the image ahead of the subject, so it appears to be moving into
the picture rather than out of it.
Continuous advance (continuous drive with digital SLRs) lets you shoot a series
of exposures at one touch of the shutter button. This can yield nice action
sequences, but also use up lots of film rather quickly--a big advantage
to digital cameras here. Bear in mind that with many AF SLRs, only the first
image or two of a moving-subject sequence will be really sharp, so it's
probably best to stick to 2-5-frame bursts.
There is a brief lag between the moment you fully depress the shutter button
to take a shot, and the moment the camera actually makes the exposure. With
pro action cameras, this lag is very brief, but it's there nonetheless.
You have to develop a feel for your camera's lag if you want to get great
action photos. And that just takes some practice.