Sports and Action Photography

Sports and action photography give you an opportunity to try out some different techniques. Generally, you need a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. This limits the amount of light that reaches the cameras sensor, so it may require (i) a wide aperture and (ii) good sunlight and/or flash or strobe light.

If the action is far away, then you may need a powerful flash that you can ‘zoom in’ to create a long, then and focussed beam of light. This can create harsh shadows.

Fast moving action usually benefits from a good auto-focus system, such as you find on recent mid- to high-end cameras. This is especially beneficial if the subject is moving towards you. Similarly, if your camera has an ‘AI Servo’ auto-focus function (Canon) or Continuous/AF-C (Nikon), this can help to get a sharp, ion-focus shot more often than not. Again, with more advanced cameras, you also need to decide how many focus point to include in the auto-focus calculations. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. It does require some experimentation for different types of fast moving scenes. Luckily, my Canon eos 7D mkii has some pre-defined autofocus cases set up ready to try out. This has been great for photographing birds in flight and dolphins breaching.

Don’t worry if all this sounds too complicated, you can still achieve great results with a point and shoot automated mode, and with a less advanced camera. You can also then progress to a semi-automated mode, e.g. shutter priority, where your shutter speed is fixed and the aperture or ISO can be automatically calculated for you by the camera in order to let the right amount of light in.