By Daniel Johnson
IF, LIKE MANY active families, you are
involved in a lot of fast-paced action, from traditional sports and outdoor activities to kids
and pets playing in the yard, you probably
would like to capture these great memories in
photographs. Unfortunately, the results of
action photography can be disappointing. Part
of the challenge is that action photography
requires good photography skills—sharp focus,
interesting composition, good lighting—but
you have less time to make decisions when
you’re photographing a fast-paced situation.
Happily, there are several things you can
do to improve the quality of your action photos, so let’s take a look at a few of them. You’ll
be snagging share-worthy action in no time!
Use a high shutter speed
Click! You just took a picture. But answer
this: How long did that click last? Half a second? A quarter of a second?
If you’re shooting action photos, you
need that click to be very short. The length of
your click—that is, the amount of time the
picture is actually being taken—has a huge
effect on the quality of your action photos.
This length of time is called the “shutter
speed,” and it’s adjustable. If you tried to shoot
action with a shutter speed of half a second,
the resulting image would be a blurry smear.
Even shutter speeds of 1/100th of a second will
result in blurry action photos. In order to
freeze motion in an acceptable manner, you
need to shorten your shutter speed by a lot.
How much? With most “average” action,
The Costco Connection
You can find a variety of cameras in the
warehouses and on Costco.com. Also, the
Costco Photo Centers offer a complete
suite of photographic services.
In our digital editions
Daniel Johnson provides more
tips on shutter speed and
shooting action photography.
(See page 13 for details.)
Easy tips for better action photography
you’ll need a shutter speed of at least 1/500th
of a second—and 1/1000th of a second usually isn’t overkill. In cases of very fast action—
or action that you are very close to—you
might even need a shutter speed of 1/2000th
Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras
and most point-and-shoot cameras have different modes available for controlling shutter
speed. Camera modes such as “sports” and
“shutter priority” allow direct control of shutter speed, while aperture priority mode allows
you to control shutter speed indirectly.
With a smartphone, you might need an
additional app (beyond the built-in camera
app) that allows for more camera control. In
any case, you’ll want a semiautomatic mode
that gives you some control while still letting
the camera help make exposure decisions.
Get in the right spot ahead of time
Once the action starts, you’re not going to
have much time to think about finding good
light and a clean background for your photo.