With the Commonwealth games coming to our fair city next month I’ve had a lot of requests from students about how best to capture the action.
To help out I’ve listed below some of my top tips for getting your camera ready for the games.
1) New to your camera? Set it to action mode
The “Action” automatic camera mode is the simplest way to get the shots you need. In this mode the camera picks a wide range of settings useful for action photos. Simply turn the mode dial on the top of your camera to the image of the running man and the camera will do the rest.
2) Try Shutter Priority
More experienced photographers will be looking for more control than the action mode allows. Blur is a great creative tool for motion and shutter priority is the best way to control it. As you change this setting you can increase or decrease the length of time it takes for the camera to take a picture. Two simple rules govern the results you will get:
• The slower the shutter the more blur you will see
Setting your shutter to 1/500s or shorter will freeze most subjects in place. No matter how fast they move the final picture will freeze the subject mid-motion, revealing all the detail that may be lost to the naked eye.
Note: The faster a subject moves the more likely it is to blur. If you are still getting blur at 1/500s try going to 1/1000s, 1/2000s or even 1/4000s.
Nothing shows movement in a photo quite like blur. By slowing the shutter down subjects can move during the shot, adding that wonderful sense of motion to your images. A shutter speed of 1/30s or shorter will give you some lovely motion blur in your images.
Note: As you increase the blur you lose detail on your subject. Be careful not to set the shutter too long or your subject could dissapear altogether!
We’ve all seen it: you try to focus on the action but when you look at the final picture you have an image focussed on the man in the background eating hot dogs.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with your subject, but if you know where they are going to be then you don’t have to, you can wait for them to come to you.
Set your camera to the standard focus lock mode (AF-S on most. ONE SHOT on Canon). Find a point where you know the subject will be, such as the finish line, and half press the shutter. Wait until the subject is just about to cross the line then take the picture. They should arrive at your focus point just as the shutter goes.
For the most active photographer you can keep up with the subject and keep it on focus using the right focus mode.
Set your camera to the continuous tracking mode (AF-C on most, AI SERVO on Canon, TRACKING on many bridge cameras). Point the camera at the subject and half press the shutter. As the subject moves move your camera with it and keep half pressing the shutter: the camera will keep focusing to keep the subject in focus. When you have the shot you want fully press the shutter to take the picture.
5) Shoot in continuous mode
The speed is set, the subjects in focus, you press the shutter and….you missed it. In the fast moving world of action photography it can be hard to capture the split second moments that make or break your images. Fortunately your camera has a simple method for helping with this. To access it simply look for a button with the icon below:
As the name suggests the continuous mode constantly takes pictures as long as your finger is on the shutter button. How many you take depends on your camera, but you can get anywhere from 3 to 20 frames per second. If you fire the shutter just before the right moment and hold it until it’s over the one of the many shots you get is likely to be perfect.
Note:This mode requires taking a lot of exceess photos to capture one. Make sure you have a lot of space on your memory card, or ideally a backup card.