5 Steps to Capturing Amazing Action

5 Steps to Capturing Amazing Action

They key to capturing fast paced, high octane sports action is speed. Just as the subject in front of the lens is mightily rapid, your camera also needs to be set up to be swift, and your concentration and anticipation should be finely tuned.

At first, many enthusiasts find photographing sports a trying challenge. It can be difficult to keep the action sharp, the focus tight and accurate and the composition effective. However, capturing exciting action is easier than you may think, and weve put together these 5 simple steps to to help you shoot sports like a pro.

Use a Telephoto Lens

The best way to capture sports action is with a telephoto lens like a 70-200mm. Telephoto lenses are ideal for action for a number of reasons, and the exact focal length required will depend on how near or far you can get to the action. Remember that if youre using a camera with an APS-C sensor then theres a built-in 1. 5x crop factor, so a 70-200mm lens will have an effective focal range of 140-300mm which will serve you well.

Using a telephoto lens will help separate the subject from the background

Telephoto lenses are the preferred optics of sports photographers because they allow you to zoom in close on the action, as often it can be difficult to get closer to the subject due to pitchside restrictions. Those rules are there for a reason though, and wanting to get closer would be foolish as youd likely end up with a few bruises and a broken camera if the sports players clattered into you. Instead, once youve settled in a decent pitchside position, use your telephoto to zoom in reasonably tight on your subject. You dont want to be zoomed so much you risk chopping off limbs or player decapitation, but the subject needs to dominate the frame for the most impact. Telephoto lenses are also ideal as they produce a bigger bokeh effect where the out of focus background is smoothly blurred and the compression of the angle of view makes for a pleasing perspective on sporting subjects.

Select a Fast Shutter Speed

In order to keep the action blisteringly sharp, with all the glistening and crunching detail, you need to shoot with a faster shutter speed. Precisely how fast of course depends on the sports youre photographing, but for field based sports you want a shutter speed of at least 1/500sec. Though if conditions are bright you may as well squeeze a few more stops into that shutter speed, and setup your camera to shoot at 1/1000sec or faster.

Use Shutter priority to instantly take control of the shutter speed

The simplest way to do this is to shoot in Shutter priority mode (S or Tv on the mode dial), dial in your chosen shutter speed like 1/500sec and your camera will set the aperture. If the lighting conditions are anything other than bright daylight, the chances are youll need to increase your ISO sensitivity to capture a balanced exposure. If your cameras f/number is blinking or says Low then theres no enough light for your shot, and youll need to increase the ISO to make it brighter. Dial it up until your camera displays a solid low aperture, and keep an eye on it during the shoot.

Alternatively, some sports photographers prefer to shoot in Aperture priority mode instead, and select the widest aperture available, such as f/2. 8 if youre using a professional standard telephoto lens. The reason for using the widest available aperture is that it lets in the maximum amount of light so your camera will always select the fastest possible shutter speed. And that way, if the exposure changes due to a change in the light conditions youll still get a good exposure, and your images will have a consistent depth of field. Some cameras also allow you to set Auto ISO, and this works particularly well when shooting action in Aperture priority. You can set up your camera so the ISO increases if the shutter speed drops below a certain value, ensuring your exposures are consistent for sharpness and focal depth, with just the ISO rising and falling to keep your photos well exposed.

To freeze fast moving action you need to shoot with a really fast shutter speed

Continuous Focus

Common focusing errors include missing the subject and focusing on the background

Most cameras have three different focusing modes: manual, single and continuous. The mode you need to use to focus on sporting action is continuous, as the focus is tracked and maintained for as long as youre pressing the focusing button. Different manufacturers have various names for their continuous focusing mode, but Nikon call it AF-C and Canon call it AI Servo. If youre not sure which it is on your camera, dust off the manual to find out.

Select your cameras Continuous focusing mode

With the focusing set up for sport, you can then decide how you want the AF points to operate. Some people prefer to use the single central AF point, which is often the fastest and most accurate cross-type sensor. Others prefer to opt for Group AF mode, where you use a cluster of AF points together to provide a larger area to set the focus, and using this mode can reduce the risk of missing the focus and ending up with pictures of a really sharp background and fuzzy action. It happens. Alternatively some cameras offer 3D tracking, and with this mode the AF point hops around the frame as the focus stays locked on the subject. Give them all a try, and see which one you prefer.

Setting a sharp focus on the main subject will create the most engaging image

Fast Drive Mode

Another way to set your camera up with speed at the centre is to select your cameras fastest drive mode sometimes called CH for Continuous High or H simply for High and that way youll be able to capture more frames per second, giving you a better chance of bagging the shot. To make your camera perform even faster, set the file format to JPEG, and not RAW. This is one of the few exceptions where photographers will argue JPEG is better, as youll be able to shoot at a faster rate and capture more images before the buffer fills, if it fills at all. Often sports shots require much less editing than say a landscape image does to make it more engaging, and so for sports a JPEG really does suffice.

Using the fastest drive mode will ensure you capture plenty of shots, so you can choose the best one

Keep Steady

Even though youll be using a super fast shutter speed, theres still a chance of encountering camera shake, especially because the risk is exacerbated when using a telephoto lens. If your lens has Image Stabilisation then make sure it is enabled to minimise the chance of blurring your shot from shake. Also, a monopod is a wise investment when shooting sports. Not only does it help keep your camera steady for extra sharpness, but telephoto lenses are heavy, and after 10 minutes your arms will start to seriously ache. Transferring the weight to a monopod is the solution, no matter how strong you are.

Holding a heavy lens for 90 minutes is tiring, so use a monopod for support

With these 5 steps youre set up and ready to go. The other important element of shooting sports action is anticipation. Its no good waiting for something to happen and then responding by focusing and pressing the shutter. Itll be too late and youll have missed it. Theres an old adage amongst sports photographers that goes If youve seen it through the viewfinder, youve missed the photo. It helps to photograph a sport that youre already familiar with, so you know whats likely to happen next and can stay on top of the action. Sports photography is incredibly rewarding, so make sure you put these tips into practice and head down to capture and immortalise your local team.

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your camera action sports

2018-1-12 03:00

your camera → : 81 / your camera -


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