SHARP PHOTOS OF MOVING SUBJECTS
If you haven’t tried action photography yet, get ready for a challenge. Photographing a subject in motion is a whole new adventure compared to shooting a stationary subject. The camera technique is similar in a lot of ways but the approach to focus is the big difference. Here are a few quick tips to get you started.
- USE AFC (AI SERVO) FOR THE AUTOFOCUS MODE. Continuous Autofocus, Autofocus Continuous, AFC, AI Servo (Canon)…they all mean the same thing. When you focus on the subject and keep your finger on the focus button, the focus will automatically shift to track the subject. DON’T use single-shot focus, this only focuses once and then stays locked, so by the time you press the button the subject has already moved out of focus.
- USE MULTIPLE FOCUS POINTS FOR THE AUTOFOCUS AREA MODE. Once again there are different terms for different cameras. On most cameras you can choose between single-point focus and multi-point. On more advanced cameras you have even more options, where you can enable all the focus points, or select to enable just a cluster of points, usually near the centre of the camera. By enabling more than one focus point, the camera has a better chance of staying on the subject. With a single point, the subject only has to change direction and your AFC will refocus on the background.
- TRY FOR PLAIN BACKGROUNDS. Because you have enable multiple points of focus, there is nothing to stop the camera from focusing on the background instead of the subject. If you have a very simple background the camera is more likely to identify and stay on the subject. Hence birds in flight against the sky are much easier than birds in a forest.
- USE A FAST SHUTTER SPEED. For most moving subjects you should try to shoot at speeds above 1000th/sec in order to prevent motion blur. Increase the ISO if necessary.
- SET YOUR RELEASE MODE TO HIGH SPEED CONTINUOUS. This type of photography has a fairly low success rate. Even the best cameras can have trouble keeping up with fast moving subjects. If you shoot off five or six frames with each press of the button – instead of just one – you have the better chance of getting a sharp shot or two from each sequence. And yes, that means being prepared to delete a lot of rejects.