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How to take Photographs of Moving Subjects

Most of the subjects we try to photograph are moving – whether they are a moving car, animal, a river or just the kids in the back garden. This last one is probably the hardest to capture – speaking from experience!

Anyone who has tried to photograph a moving subject knows how hard it can be. Despite this, the feeling of satisfaction when you achieve a good moving photograph is immense and well worth the effort as the results can look stunning!

When we break down the elements of an action photograph, all the same elements and rules apply as a something static like a portrait. Framing, composition, background, focus, lighting, exposure and depth of field are still what we need to pay attention to, but the added difficulty is that with a moving subject these are constantly changing.

However, with practice, it is possible to anticipate these changing conditions and achieve a good result.

Use of foreground interest adds depth to a LandscapeThe shutterspeed you choose is hugely important and pretty much determines the type of action photo you will end up with. To freeze action select a very fast shutterspeed (see Shutter Speed), or to slightly (or greatly!) add some blur to the action, select a slower shutterspeed. For very slow speeds a tripod may be necessary to keep from getting camera shake in the picture, although sometimes this can be an advantage.

Now, while freezing the action may seem like the best idea (and it is for some photos, such as sports photographs for newspapers), this gives no feeling of movement in the photo.

One way to get the feeling of movement in a photo is the Panning method. Panning involves a slow shutterspeed and panning or following the moving subject as it crosses the frame in the camera. While this is a very hard task to master, when it works, it looks stunning.

 

 

The most common use of this technique is to use a slow shutterspeed while photographing race cars and panning with the race car as it moves. This gives a sharp race car, but blurs the background to indicate speed and motion. Try this on a running animal or child for some interesting results!

Or how about when photographing a water landscape, using a slow shutterspeed so that the water appears blurred. Try this on a stormy cloudscape for moving storm clouds.

Another popular technique for landscapes is to use a very slow shutterspeed (Try a couple of seconds). This makes buildings, and faraway mountains sharp but leaves or trees moving in the wind blur slightly, giving an ethereal feel to the image.

The slow shutterspeed technique can also be applied to static images. Try zooming a zoom lens smoothly with a slow shutterspeed and a burst of fill in flash (see flash photography). The flash freezes the image while the slow shutter speed and zoom blurs the background giving a very dynamic shot!

The most important thing to do when trying out any new technique id to enjoy yourself, so find your favourite moving subject and start having some fun!!

 

 

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