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Action Photography

Action Photography

Action Photography 1st Edition
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Easy-to-follow advice on all kinds of motion photography, including sports, wildlife, theatre, water, and children in action. Successfully photographing any sport or activity depends on knowing how to pick the right moment to trigger the shutter, being in the right place at the right time, and having the correct equipment set up with appropriate exposure controls to deliver correctly-exposed images. You must also understand how to ensure the right parts of the subject are sharply focused. All these questions – and more – are answered in the Action Photography, which also provides advice on creative shooting techniques and post-capture manipulations that can be used to enhance a sense of motion or add movement to otherwise static subjects.

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Media Publishing Pty Limited

in this issue

8 min.
chapter 1 gearing up for action

Most photographers enjoy the challenge of depicting action in still photos, whether they shoot sports, dance, wildlife or simply family activities. The best shots capture the essence of the movement – speed, flow and/or position – in the instant recorded in the frame. Regardless of their expertise, all photographers must deal with five vital criteria when planning an action shoot. 1. How far you will be from your subject(s) Different lens focal lengths will be required when you can shoot close to the action from operating at a distance. These choices can also influence the style of the shots. 2. The lighting at the venue It can be much easier to shoot sports in bright sunshine than indoor venues. But bright, contrasty lighting can produce blown-out highlights and blocked-up shadows that may compromise the…

1 min.
action cameras

Action cameras are very popular because they’re small and relatively cheap. You can strap them to your body, your bike, your surfboard or a drone and record activities you’re involved in. They also provide a simple way to acquire different camera angles for shots. However, most are designed primarily for recording video, so their top resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels (just under two megapixels). Some recent releases support 4K video, which ranges between 3840 x 2160 and 4096 x 2160 pixels or 8.3 and 8.8 megapixels. By modern still camera standards this resolution isn’t high. Many camera-phones offer higher resolution. Many action cameras come with waterproof cases, making them ideal for recording water sports. Most support remote triggering and playback via Wi-Fi. Some include internal stabilisation, although it may crop the…

9 min.
chapter 2: event shooting

Great action shots are rarely a result of good luck. Knowing where to position yourself, being there at the right time and having the right equipment set up correctly will shift the odds in your favour. So, too, will being able to anticipate the peak of the action and having fast enough reflexes and on-the-spot timing. Understanding how your equipment performs is also important. 1. Be prepared Research the situation as thoroughly as possible before embarking on a shoot, making sure you cover all the legal and ethical obstacles you might encounter. Sometimes you will require prior authorisation from organisers of the activity in order to get into the venue to take photographs. Always contact the organisers of the activity beforehand to seek permission. If you can’t contact them by normal means, turn…

7 min.
chapter 3: shooting techniques

Once you’ve settled on the equipment you will use and sorted out the locations you’ll shoot from, it’s time to decide the camera settings you will use. Often these will vary, depending on how you want to record the motion. Here are a few general tips that will help you to make wise choices in most situations. 1. Select the right autofocusing mode With most cameras, the AF-S (single shot focus) is the best setting to choose when you want to ‘freeze’ the action, particularly for close subjects with tight compositions. Continuous AF (AF-C) can work better when shooting sequences, particularly when subjects aren’t moving quickly. High-end cameras usually provide settings that can track moving, although most cameras can’t autofocus continuously while in high-speed burst mode. Many will default to AF-C in their…

2 min.
sports presets

Many consumer-level cameras include ‘Scene’ pre-sets that configure the camera settings to suit particular subject types. Their objective is to help novice users to choose the appropriate camera settings for different subject types and they are handy when you’re not sure how to configure the camera as well as when you must shoot quickly to capture a rapidly-changing subject. Once a particular pre-set is selected, all the photographer needs to do is point the camera and press the shutter button. The pre-sets are normally only applied to JPEG files and some cameras will not support raw file capture when the Scene mode is selected. ‘Sports’ and ‘Action’ pre-sets are among the most common options. The Sports mode is primarily designed to ‘freeze’ action so the camera will select a fast shutter speed,…

8 min.
chapter 4: quality control

In this chapter we’ll look at some of the underlying technical issues you need to consider. These will influence the quality of your action photographs and how they can be used in the future. 1. File format choice Most photographs are taken using the JPEG format, which automatically compresses the data to reduce the amount of storage space required. JPEG has long been seen as the ‘universal’ file format because it can be viewed on any screen, output to any printer or device and stored quickly and easily. Shots that will be posted on sharing websites, sent to publishers or submitted for competitions should normally be sent in JPEG format. Camera users can normally select the image size (in pixels) and quality (level of compression) for JPEGs recorded in the camera. The same is…