Canon PowerShot G12, Tips for Shooting Action

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Give them somewhere to go

Whether you are shooting something as simple as your child’s soccer match or as complex as the wild motion of a bucking bronco, where you place the subject in the frame is equally important as how well you expose the image. A poorly composed shot can completely ruin a great moment by not holding the viewer’s attention.

The one mistake I see many times in action photography is that the photographer doesn’t use the frame properly. If you are dealing with a subject that is moving horizontally across your field of view, give the subject somewhere to go by placing them to the side of the frame, with their motion leading toward the middle of the frame (Figure 5.8). This offsetting of the subject will introduce a sense of direction and anticipation for the viewer. Unless you’re going to completely fill the image with the action, try to avoid placing your subject in the middle of the frame.

Try to leave space in front of your subject to lead the action in a direction.
Figure 5.8 Try to leave space in front of your subject to lead the action in a direction. [Photo: Scott Edwards]
Get in front of the action

When shooting action, show the action coming toward you. Don’t shoot the action going away from you. People want to see faces. Faces convey the action, the drive, the sense of urgency, and the emotion of the moment. So if you are shooting action involving people, always position yourself so that the action is either coming at you or is at least perpendicular to your position.

Put your camera in a different place

Changing your vantage point is a great way of finding new angles. Shooting from a low position with the lens at a wide-angle setting might let you incorporate some foreground to give depth to the image. Shooting from farther away while zoomed in will compress the elements in a scene and allow you to crop in tighter on the action. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. The image in Figure 5.9 is a great example of using the compact size of the camera to one’s advantage.

Taking a photo of the road would be fine, as would using a long shutter speed to blur the scenery as the motorcycle sped past it. Instead, the photographer caught the reflection of the road, the scenery, some sun flare, and the bike in his helmet’s visor. (The black color of the camera also nicely blends in with the shadows of the bike, so at first glance you don’t notice it in the shot.)
Figure 5.9 Taking a photo of the road would be fine, as would using a long shutter speed to blur the scenery as the motorcycle sped past it. Instead, the photographer caught the reflection of the road, the scenery, some sun flare, and the bike in his helmet’s visor. (The black color of the camera also nicely blends in with the shadows of the bike, so at first glance you don’t notice it in the shot.)