Following the action

Most of us have kids that are involved in active sports, and we struggle to get good pictures of them actually doing what they do. Today I'm going to talk about something called 'panning'. That means following the motion of the important part of the picture by moving the camera while it's taking the picture. In other words, get a picture of your kid, not a fuzzy blur of his leg on his way out of your frame! Once again, this is something that requires practice, but I'm sure your kids won't mind playing while you sit and take pictures. One of the ways a photographer gets a picture of a speeding car that is fairly sharp while the background is blurry is by following the motion of the car as it moves, not just standing still and snapping and hoping for the best. So what you'll need to do is pretend you're using a video camera, and keep your target in the frame by moving the camera to follow the motion and keep snapping. Some cameras have a continuous shutter setting so you can take multiple 'freeze frames'. Then you can pick the one you like best. If your shutter speed is a little slower, the background will be nicely blurred, if not, everything will be sharp but you will still have your desired subject within the picture frame, so everyone wins. You would use the 'action' setting to do that. Just be sure to follow the motion smoothly so you don't have up and down blur, unless of course the motion is up and down! Today's sample picture is my son jumping stumps while I played with my camera. My camera was set on 'vivid' so the colors of his helmet and bike are really bright, but unfortunately I'm thoroughly busted on the bad mom scale because he forgot his gloves and they're shiny and pink to prove it... which is what Nikon vivid does to skin tones. 😉 I stood parallel to his 'flight path' and followed his motion with my camera as I clicked the shutter. Sometimes it helps to focus on a spot that is the same distance as where the action is going to be, like the ground at that spot, hold your shutter halfway, then raise the camera to follow the motion and press the shutter the rest of the way as you pan.

3 Replies to “Following the action”

  1. Nice work. It would be helpful to know what camera you are using and the technical data with each shot. That kind of info helps camera geeks like me 🙂

    One tip I can add; always ALWAYS pay attention to your background as well.

    While the blur of action shows motion, my eye is drawn to the white tape electrical fencing as a distraction 🙂

    1. Ah my geekish friend! This particular shot was taken with my Nikon D5000 at 36mm on Auto at ISO 200, 1/45 of a second at F9.5. I shot on auto with a standard aperture to show that it can be done with a point and shoot.

      Yes, I do have an electric fence back there oh sharp-eyed one! Can we pretend it is a course barrier on an enduro track? 😉 It’s easily gotten rid of with a cloning tool in almost any editing program, even the freebies like Picasa. Hmmm… I see another post coming… after I wash windows!

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