Capturing Fast Action: Our 8 Favorite Reader Photos from the “Action, Adventure & Energy” Assignment

Race Frenzy
“Girls’ high school cross-country team competes at a frantic pace for a regional title located in Tallahassee, Florida,” Linn Smith says about this shot. It was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a Canon 100-400mm lens at f/32, 1/13 second, ISO 200. © Linn Smith

Today’s camera gear is faster than ever and much of it is tailor-made for capturing any sort of motion or movement. So then why do so many photographers struggle to shoot compelling images of action, adventure, and energy? Part of it has to do with timing and part of it has to do with composition. Your camera and lens can only do so much and there’s more to a great action shot than simply capturing the moment and making sure it’s in focus.

For this assignment, we asked readers to stretch their imaginations and shoot scenes they thought epitomized action, adventure, or energy. Readers were free to photograph anything from basketball to dance to wildlife, just as long as there was some kind of wild energy in the scene.

We were looking for great composition, effective use of backgrounds and scenery, and powerful emotion: human, animal, or otherwise. These eight images from readers really nailed it.

Leading the Way
“This photo is from a weekend of motorcycle track racing at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida,” Jeff Signorini explains. “I used a handheld Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera with a Canon EF 400 f/2.8L IS II USM lens. The settings were 1/2000 second at f/8, ISO 1600, and 400mm.” © Jeff Signorini

Romeo Running
“This is a photo of my dog Romeo,” Alissa Rosenberg says. “This was taken with a Nikon D7100 and a 70-200mm lens set at f/2.8.” © Alissa Rosenberg

Over the Edge
“While photographing a group of larger rams in Yellowstone National Park, this young fellow came running in from the right,” Paul Holdorf writes. “I panned over and managed to capture this image just as he went airborne over the cliff! The sun had just come out after a brief snow squall and you can see the flakes in the air!” Holdorf used a Nikon D7100 and a Tamron 200-500mm f/5-6.3 lens on a Vanguard Alta Pro tripod with a Sirui K-30X ball head at ISO 1000, f/10, 1/2000 second, 500mm. © Paul Holdorf

Boundless Energy-Iditarod Start
John P. Zager captured this handheld shot with a Nikon D7000 DSLR and a Nikkor 70-300mm lens set at 135mm, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/2000 second. “By getting low in the snow, I was able to get a dog’s eye view of the teams and mushers as they passed by during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska,” Zager notes. “At this point in the race, the dogs have a phenomenal amount of pent-up energy that will be required to carry the team a thousand miles to Nome over the next nine or more days.” © John P. Zager

Curly Que
“A photo of my friend, Mike (Spanky) Gallaway, flying during his aerobatic performance at the Denton, Texas, air show,” Lynn Cromer writes about this shot. Cromer used a Nikon D300 and a 70-300mm lens at 1/250 second. © Lynn Cromer

Speed & Style
“On an afternoon with backlit cyclists and lighted mountains in the back, I wasn’t sure what the image would look like,” Bill Blackburn notes. “During my visit the Crankworx event was beginning and provided much excitement for spectators.” He shot the image at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park in Whistler, British Columbia, with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a Canon 70-200mm lens. © Bill Blackburn

Lightning Fast
“Hummingbirds are a fascinating subject,” Douglas Croft says. “These little Rufous Hummers are quite skittish and shy so it is a treat to be able to capture them. I wanted to show motion in his wings and really liked how his head is veiled by the blurred wings.” Croft used a Nikon D500 and a Sigma 150-600mm lens at f/8, ISO 400, 1/160 second. © Douglas Croft

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