Getting in on the Action
If you're getting tired of taking photographs of the same old boring subjects, why not head on out to where the action is? The real action. You need not spend thousands of dollars traveling to Maui for the International Surfing Championships or to Spain for the Running of the Bulls. There's plenty of exciting action going on just moments from your front door.
If you doubt that, check with your local Chamber of Commerce or State Tourism Department. Scan the entertainment section of daily and neighborhood newspapers. Tune in to regional radio and television broadcasts. There you'll find news of upcoming fairs, races, rodeos, sports activities, rallies, and other events-everything from barrel racing and high school diving competitions to baseball, football, and hockey games ... from offshore sailing regattas to a neighborhood game of stick hockey.
Not surprisingly, many people are hesitant to try photographing moving subjects. Decades of slow film and slower lenses once restricted photographers to shooting stone-faced subjects standing beneath the mid-day sun on a hot summer's day in August. Ahh, how times have changed! Today's newer equipment and more sensitive films allow you to use faster shutter speeds to get proper exposures. And fast shutter speeds "freeze" fast action, providing you the opportunity to capture on film some things your parents could only dream about. Here are a few other tips for getting in on the action.
If your camera features an adjustable shutter speed, set it for 1/250 second for shooting subjects such as joggers, bicyclers, and cars traveling slower than 25 miles an hour. For subjects such as runners, sports activities, and cars traveling up to 50 miles an hour, use a shutter speed of 1/500 second. For really fast-moving subjects such as airplanes, motorcycles, and auto racers, use 1/1,000 second or faster.
If your camera features an automatically adjustable shutter speed, use a fast film of ISO 400 to 1000 to ensure the camera's ability to select a fast shutter speed for the proper exposure.
If you find yourself shooting a slow film or if your camera has a limited shutter-speed range, try shooting moving subjects as they come toward you rather than going from one side to the other. Autofocusing cameras are especially useful in conditions like this. For a more creative approach to capturing fast action, especially when shooting something like a car race, try using a slower shutter speed of around 1/60 second and panning with the action. Simply move the camera from one side to the other, keeping the subject "frozen" in one spot in the viewfinder at all times. In the middle of your pan, snap the picture. The results: a sharp subject standing out against a dramatically motion-blurred background.
When freezing fast action indoors (like at a hockey game or a party), use electronic flash. The short duration of the electronic flash will accomplish the same thing as a fast shutter speed, resulting in perfectly motionless subjects. Just be sure to check the flash manual or the unit, itself, to see that the subject is within the maximum flash range for your film speed and flash combination. The faster the film (or the higher its ISO rating), the greater the flash range.
When forced to shoot a slow film indoors without electronic flash, try to anticipate the "peak of action.î That's the precise moment when a moving object stops moving in one direction and begins moving in another. It's the pinnacle of a basketball player's jump shot or the moment a race car veers to make a turn through a tight chicane. To capture the shot at just the right moment, pre-focus your camera where you anticipate the peak of action will occur and be ready fire.
It takes split-second timing and plenty of practice to do it right, but peak-of-action shots are some of the most exciting and spectacular of all action photos.
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