Don’t let summer draw to a close without snapping some action shots with your digital camera. Take a break from posed portraits and start snapping action-packed images of your kids swimming in the pool or your partner running down the beach. However, before you wear out your finger pressing your camera’s shutter button, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:
Aperture: Manipulating my camera’s aperture in order to stop action has been one of my biggest downfalls this summer. Using a low aperture will allow the most light into the camera. This is extremely important if you are taking action shots. Improper lighting can cause blurring, and in some cases underexposure. Experiment with your camera’s aperture before taking aim at your child doing back flips off the diving board.
Shutter speed: Shutter speed is also crucial in action photography. If you are shooting your son on the soccer field, you want your camera’s shutter to move quickly (at least 1/250) to keep up with the action. Anything less and you’ll end up with an unrecognizable blur in place of your little kicker.
Camera setting: Most digital cameras come with an “action” setting. However, it’s not a fail-free feature. I used it to capture my daughter flying down a waterslide this summer, but it only improved the shot marginally. According to my camera manual, the “action” setting helps control your shutter speed for you and will often “prefocus” your lens to optimize the best chances of a great shot. Remember: this is a general rule and doesn’t mean that you are assured the perfect action shot simply because you have selected the auto-feature.
Shutter lag: Action shots and camera lag time are mortal enemies. Most high-priced SLR cameras have very short shutter lag times. You will have to decide whether investing in a $1,000-plus camera is worth it in order to reduce shutter lag time.