Pin Me

How to Take Great Action Shots

written by: Charles Dodd White•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 11/18/2011

By learning to compensate for the limitations of your digital camera, you can still take fantastic shots of scenes in motion with these action photography tips.

  • slide 1 of 8

    While digital cameras offer many advantages over traditional photography, there is one place where they are still significantly behind the curve: action pictures. When trying to snag a shot of animals or children, a still life just isn't an option. However, with a few practical tips, you can still manage to come away with some top notch images that are ready to view in seconds.

  • slide 2 of 8
  • slide 3 of 8

    Beating Shutter Lag

    The real culprit for digital cameras is shutter lag. Many less expensive cameras can take up to a second after you have pressed the button for the picture to actually take. With the unpredictable requirements of an action shot, these can leave you with foggy and blurred pictures. You can cut down on some shutter lag by depressing the button on the camera halfway so that some of the wait is reduced.

    Another way to overcome this handicap is by actually moving the camera as the shot develops. By following through with the direction of the movement you are trying to capture, you can end up with a lovely shot. This technique is called panning. To properly do this you must begin take the shot and follow through for up to two seconds. The image result will be of a crisply focused subject and a blurred background.

  • slide 4 of 8
  • slide 5 of 8

    Employ Multi Bursts

    Another important thing to keep in mind is to use a digital camera that supports continuous shots. Shooting with mult-bursts can be a great way to capture high action shots. Since these shots are in a sequence, you can choose which image is the best and discard the remainder. One thing you have to keep in mind is your write time. This is how fast the camera is able to save each of the images. In the case of continuous shots this can be a real concern with the amount of memory you may require. If you intend to shoots bursts, you should make sure you have a high speed memory card.

  • slide 6 of 8

    Plan Ahead

    The other immediate consideration is that you will need to have a good plan of how you want to frame the action when the photographic opportunity takes place. If you are trying to catch junior swinging on a fastball, take time to block the shot before it develops so that when it does occur, you have some of the compositional elements already figured out. For example, when junior steps up to the plate center the shot over homeplate so that you leave plenty of head room. As the baseball enters your field of vision, begin snapping shots so that you will have the jump if contact with the bat is made. Remember, you can do this as many times as you want since you can simply delete shots that don't meet your requirements.

  • slide 7 of 8
  • slide 8 of 8

    While action shots involving animals and children pose some unique challenges, the dynamic quality of such a shot makes all the difference. With a little bit of practice, you should be able to turn out thrilling scenes that rival the pros.