Basic Digital Photography:
Taking Action Shots

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Quick Photography Tip
When shooting photos using slow shutter speeds, you should use a sturdy tripod to prevent shaking

Personal photography has gone through a sort of mini evolution in the past 20 years as digital cameras have become popular. With the ability to take huge numbers of pictures, save them on computer, and share them over the internet, the cost of film and developing are no longer limiting factors. Although group photographs, portraits, celebrations, and vacations are still common images, personal photography now captures more impromptu and daily types of events. Photographs of fast moving action are more common as well as people are able to experiment to obtain the type of images they want without fear of "ruining" a shot that requires more skill to take. Capturing action can be challenging for a beginning photographer and requires quite a bit of practice to master. The following outlines a few pointers that can get the novice started off on the right foot.

1. When trying to obtain shots of action, the photographer can use one of two approaches:

2. Reduce lag time and latency:

3. Follow the action; this is known as "panning". Panning involves tracking the motion of the subject horizontally to capture the movement as it goes side to side. As the photographer moves in the same direction as the motion, a slower shutter speed is often used to allow the subject to be focused and the background to blur demonstrating the action that is occurring. Panning is not necessary for all action shots but is one method of demonstrating the movement while keeping the subject in focus. The process of panning involves the following:

4. Use Burst Mode when wanting to capture a series of movements. Many digital cameras offer a Burst Mode which allows the user to capture a sequence of shots. The camera tends to set the focus and exposure on the first shot and then take remaining shots with these same settings. This allows the camera to take the shots in a more rapid sequence.

5. Action shots can be taken from any angle. However, staying parallel to the action generally produces the best demonstration of movement and allows the photographer to pan if desired.

6. Shutter speed reminder. A faster shutter speed generally freezes action to help eliminate blurring, however a somewhat slower shutter speed can better demonstrate movement by allowing some blurring of the arms, legs, and feet as the subject moves. The type of shot desired is what dictates the appropriate shutter speed to use.

7. Practice, practice, practice. Beginners can anticipate their action shots will not meet their expectations initially. Practice is necessary and will require many shots to be taken. However, with the ability to delete images on digital cameras, practice is only an investment in time.

About the Author

Christine Peppler shares information on home electronics products, including digital cameras, and home entertainment on her website at:

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