Three Tips For Shooting Action Page 2

TIP 3: Composing Action Shots
Most action happens too quickly to allow you to carefully compose each image and check the background for distractions. But you can check the background (and lighting) before the subject arrives, and move to a different spot if background or light aren't good.

Check the background and lighting before the subject arrives. If the background is distracting, or the lighting unattractive, try to find a new spot to set up.
Photo by Karel Kramer/Dirt Rider Magazine

Focus Points
While it's easier to keep a camera's wide, multi-point AF area on a moving subject, most AF SLRs will respond more quickly if you use only the central focusing point. If your camera doesn't seem to respond quickly enough with action subjects, try using single-point AF instead of multi-point AF.

Swallows are very tough subjects: Not only are they fast, they're also erratic as they pursue tiny flying insects. This "mirror image" occurred when a swallow flew near the water surface, which glowed with sunrise color. Exposing for the color and letting the bird go silhouette also provided a faster shutter speed--all the better to catch a sharp image.

If you know the subject will pass a specific point, such as second base at a baseball game with an expert base-stealer on first, you can prefocus manually on that point, and thus be ready to shoot as the subject arrives. This eliminates the time consumed by (and possible inaccuracy of) autofocusing.

With moving subjects, it's generally preferable to leave some room in the image ahead of the subject, so it appears to be moving into the picture rather than out of it.

Continuous Drive
Continuous advance (continuous drive with digital SLRs) lets you shoot a series of exposures at one touch of the shutter button. This can yield nice action sequences, but also use up lots of film rather quickly--a big advantage to digital cameras here. Bear in mind that with many AF SLRs, only the first image or two of a moving-subject sequence will be really sharp, so it's probably best to stick to 2-5-frame bursts.

Camera Lag
There is a brief lag between the moment you fully depress the shutter button to take a shot, and the moment the camera actually makes the exposure. With pro action cameras, this lag is very brief, but it's there nonetheless. You have to develop a feel for your camera's lag if you want to get great action photos. And that just takes some practice.