Action Photography - Ways You Can Improve Your Action Pictures

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When it comes to taking great action photos, one of the most important digital photography basics is understanding shutter lag.

Also called "processor lag" this is the time that it takes between the time you press the shutter release and the time the camera actually takes the shot. Press too soon, and you end up with something completely different than what you expected.

In spite of all their advantages, compact digital cameras are slower than film cameras, some more than others. This article provides some tips for dealing with this lag, as well as tips for how to take more exciting and memorable action pictures.

1) Be Ready - Always try to anticipate the movement before it happens. Even professional sports photographers with fast cameras have to still anticipate actions so they can be in the right spot at the right time.

By having a better understanding of what you're photographing, you'll be better able to anticipate the actions and get better shots. So, if you plan to take pictures of your child's soccer match, learn the rules of the game so you'll know what to expect. If your child's performing in the Nutcracker, watch a rehearsal or two.

2) Before you get a new compact digital camera investigate what you really want. Unfortunately, there isn't just one camera spec that will tell you how fast the camera will capture the picture from the time you press the button. Other factors can slow down the processing too, like the quality of the sensor and in dim lighting, the ISO setting. So investigate what other people are saying in photography forums and read all of the manufacturer's specs online.

3) Spring for a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens-Reflex). They're more expensive than compacts, but they're FAST. These cameras do not have shutter-lag issues, and if you're shooting action indoors, you can ramp up the ISO without your photos being marred by the digital noise that you'll get when doing the same with a compact.

Digital Photography Tips You Can Use with Any Type of Camera

Whether you have a compact, DSLR, point-and-shoot film camera or camera phone, try these professional tricks.

Zoom in on Faces - Don't always focus on the action. Capture those expressions of determination, triumph and even defeat (especially if it's an opponent!).

Tell a Story - Look for shots that tell a story of the event. For instance, take a picture of a team huddle or a group of runners stretching before the big race.

Freeze! - To freeze the movement, set your camera setting to "sports" mode or set your shutter speed priority to a high setting. For an example of the difference in settings: freezing action in a soccer game requires a shutter speed in the range of 1/250 to 1/500, while freezing the tiny movements of a pet that appears to be sitting still, requires 1/125.

Blur the Background - Take a cue from the sports photographers, and blur the background by decreasing the camera's depth of field. If you're using a camera with Aperture Priority, you can do this simply by decreasing the F Stop number. The lower the f-stop, the more background blur.

Pan - This is a good alternative for digital compact users where dim light underexposes photos taken with sports mode/fast shutter speed. Panning works with automatic focus, but it only works when the action is moving in a fairly straight line. Here's how to pan:

Set your Camera to Autofocus. With your feet firmly planted on the ground, rotate your upper body and follow the subject with your camera. Just before the anticipated action that you want to capture occurs, start pressing the shutter release button and continue following the subject until you've pressed the button all the way down and the camera gets the shot.

Autofocus too slow on your camera? Focus on an area with a lot of contrast like a number on a uniform. Autofocus works better with more contrast.

Play around with panning and see what kinds of different effects you can get. If you want to put more emphasis on the movement, you may want to consider blurring the movement to make it look like it's moving faster.

Whether you are shooting a sporting event or taking photos of your dog playing frisbee, action photos are really a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. And once you master the digital photography basics (like compensating for shutter lag) it makes it all the more fun.

Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames and loves photos and frames. Your Picture Frames offers a huge selection of photo frames in a wide variety of colors, sizes, styles so you'll always find exactly what you want. If you're looking for stylish squares or wood panorama frames visit our website or call us at 1-800-780-0699.

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