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How to shoot amazing action shots

Action sports photography is a tricky skill to master. However, you’re dedicated and you want to get the best action shots of your children in sporting action. No sweat! Just follow these simple tips.

Location, Location, Location!

When it comes to sports photography, location is everything. Standing in the crowds with a gigantic zoom lens may help you get a few good shots, but you’ll be limiting your field of reference and potentially creating blurry shots. Instead, get as close to the action as the officials will allow.

You need to find a specific spot for each sport, one that will help you capture the flow of the game in a dramatic way. The following sports are best captured from the following spots on the field:

– Football: On the sideline about five yards ahead of the action; near the goal line; standing near the players (for reaction shots)

– Soccer: On the sideline with a zoom lens (to capture shots on the other side of the field); near the goal (for incredibly shot pics)

– Basketball: Three to four feet to the left or right of a basket; on the corners of the court

– Volleyball: On the left side of the court and about five feet to the left or right of the net

– Baseball or Softball: Right behind home plate; on the first or third base line


Always Use A Tripod

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to want to run along with the action. However, you’ll only capture uneven or blurry shots this way. Instead, set up a stable tripod and park yourself at one of the above mentioned areas. You’ll lose a little of the quick “get up and go” versatility of handheld shots, but you’ll gain more in shot quality.

And besides, it’s not that hard to pick up and move a tripod. In fact, you should move to different locations during the game to capture the best diversity of action.

Patience Is A Virtue

During an exciting sports moment, you’re likely going to want to capture as much of the action as possible. As a result, you might take hundreds of photos that are only mildly different. Be patient and keep your eye on the game. In any sports game, you’re usually only seconds away from an amazing shot.

So try to take pictures in short bursts with the “Action” setting on (often called “burst mode”), rather than long continuous shots. Beyond taking an excessive number of photos, it also puts your camera out of action for a few seconds. During that recovery pause, there’s a good chance you’ll miss some great shots.


Proper Manual Settings

Don’t trust the “sports” setting on your camera: you need to manually set your options to get the best results. The following settings should capture innovative and breathtaking sports shots, ones in which your son or daughter are doing something incredible:

-Fast shutter speed to capture action of about 1/500th or higher

-Open aperture to about f/5.6 to let in the maximum amount of life, increasing the aperture when shooting in a gym

-Increase ISO to at least 800, but decrease it to the minimum amount whenever possible

-Set white balance to “automatic”

-Turn off your flash and focus manually whenever possible

As you can see, the only “automatic” setting utilized is white balance. That’s because it is one of the hardest of all settings to “eyeball” and can change depending on the lighting of a gym. In fact, it can even change depending on the angle of your shots.

Keep these sports photography tips in mind and you’ll have incredible shots that will last a lifetime. Once you’ve captured the perfect shot, print it on high quality canvas. Can’t decide on just one? Choose a few of your favorites for a photo collage!


Image credits: M PincusLoren Kerns | Terri | sportsphoto rob