Your biggest challenge in sports and action photography is making sure that the main subject in your image stays in focus. Because your subject is moving your focus is constantly changing. There are several options for keeping moving subjects in focus.
Keep your subject in focus by tracking in manual focus mode. This takes practice and is increasingly difficult the faster your subject moves.
Another option is to use the automatic tracking/focusing mode. This keeps a moving subject in focus if you hold down the shutter release button half way before firing off your shot. Most DSLRs have this option and quite a few Point & Shoot cameras do too.
|Photo Credit John Sterling Jr.|
This is an option I personally like and use frequently depending on what I’m shooting. Pre-focus on a spot where your subject will pass in front of your camera. This takes practice but is really useful if your subject is moving on a predictable path like a race course.
If your subject is unpredictable, like a football player who changes direction often, you might like to try one of the other focusing methods above.
In theory pre-focusing is quite easy. Simply switch to manual focusing, choose a point where your subject will pass and focus on that point. Just before your subject hits that point you hit the shutter button and you should capture the shot. This may take time to perfect so you’ll want to practice on various moving subjects to perfect your technique.
With a fast moving subject set your camera at a fast shutter speed. You might also consider shooting in continuous shooting mode. In this case, start firing off shots a second before your subject arrives or starts moving. You’ll take a number of shots around your focusing point and should get at least one or two great images.
When you first try pre-focusing go to a dog park, the beach etc. and position yourself where you can see people, animals or even cars moving towards or around you. Switch to manual focusing, choose a spot and get your camera focused upon it. Wait for the action to hit that spot then click the shutter. But remember to shoot just before your subject arrives at your chosen spot. Word of caution: don’t stand in front of the action!
It will take a few outings to get your timing down but you’ll get there with practice. Give it a try this week!
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