Capturing Action

My children are rarely still. They sleep and that’s about it. One of the things I love about my camera is that (occasionally) I’m able to capture them on the move.

And sometimes I get a clear shot, but unfortunately not as often as I’d like.

Gil takes great shots of objects — buildings, architecture, plants. Anything that stands still.

I’m better at getting good shots of people. A twinkle in the eye, a pensive expression.

I love the looks on my children’s faces when they’re moving but focused. Piers is competitive and action-oriented. He never stops moving but when he wants something, his eye is on the prize.

I shot this picture on Friday. He and Gil were throwing the football. It’s blurry, but you get the idea. I’m learning.

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My lighting wasn’t great and I was just goofing around with the camera.

Gil’s knowledge of photography trumps mine all day long. When we can communicate without screaming at each other (he tries to not act like a know-it-all, and I take my meds and pay attention and don’t accuse him of talking down to me), I’m able to learn a lot from him. His technical skills exceed mine all day long. He just has a natural understanding of how things work and he’s driven to master whatever he’s working on. In this case, the camera.

I shared with him that I was having trouble getting clear action shots and he gave me some good tips.

I still want to learn to take pictures solely in Manual mode, which is what I was in when I took the picture on Friday.

Gil suggested that rather than work in total Manual mode that I try some of the other modes while I’m still wrapping my non-technical brain around some of the other terms (shutter speed, ISO, aperture, etc.) He specifically suggested that I try taking shots in A – Aperture priority and S – Shutterspeed priority.

That way I’ll have some control over the settings but other things will already be set for me. The following shots were taken on Sunday. Now I can’t remember how to pull up exactly what I was shooting in. I’m pretty sure the camera was set to Shutter speed priority 1/800. Gil had me focus on the spot where I was aiming and then shift the lens to Manual focus.

The above paragraph absolutely illustrates how little patience I have with technicalities. I’m all, Whatever. Screw the details. I just want to get on with it and make pretty pictures.

Anyhoo, these are SLIGHTLY clearer. As I’m typing this I’m thinking, I get much better action shots in Automatic. DAMN. IT.

I have a lot to learn. But that’s okay. This might be a good hobby for my attention span.

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Here’s another of Piers.

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And we can’t forget Wallce — I wish this would have been clearer. I like his expression.

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And finally, Wallace catches the frisbee.

Any tips on getting clear action shots? This novice needs all the help she can get.

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22 thoughts on “Capturing Action

  1. I took a photography course with the Open University to help me understand my camera and ditch the automatic settings in favour of manual. I did learn how, but for speed shots I always use automatic because I miss the shot faffing round with the settings. I did read an amazing book that made all the shutter-speed/aperture gibbledegook make sense but I can’t remember what it’s called. I’ll dig through the books in the loft and see if I can find it! That was all before kids. These days it’s ipad or bust for photos…

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  2. I certainly can’t offer you any tips; it sounds like Gil has all the technical knowledge you need. The key to good photos (or good anything) is, of course, practice. My husband is a photographer of some 35 years. The difference between his early photos and now is pretty obvious. All you need is patience. Besides, I think those are great photos.

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    • Yes! Your husband’s photos are amazing! You are so right about needing patience. Gil does have lot of technical knowledge which in many ways fuels my frustration. When I ask him a specific question I feel like we’re speaking different languages. He rarely picks the camera up and then when he does, his photos are really good — much better quality than mine, which drives me a little crazy. He can look at my pictures and tell me exactly what I should have done differently — as far as the camera settings go. I really am motivated right now to learn, so I’m doing my best to cease this motivation while it lasts. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  3. These are great! I especially love the second one (right before hitting the water!) and the first. The expression is fantastic in that first one. You really caught his focus.

    The more you practice, I think the more the different camera settings will begin to make sense to you. I’ve been kind of incessantly practicing and it’s still pretty confusing – but it’s definitely getting better. I think maybe it’s just about getting a feel for it (which I wouldn’t say I have yet…but I maybe have a start on it.)

    I can’t wait to see more of your photos!

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    • I definitely think your pictures are improving. My hope is that I can get a good understanding of the settings so that it becomes more “automatic.” As in I want to know more about the settings so I can set them more quickly and more decisively. Now it’s more like — oh, I think I’ll try this or that. There’s not a lot of logical thought behind what I’m doing. I need to employ that element a bit more.

      I think I have a decent eye, but I am seriously lacking in technical know-how, and up until now I’ve been rather lazy about changing that.

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  4. Those are pretty awesome pics! I am strictly an “iPhone-ographer” so I have no tips. But I have tremendous respect for photographers. I had no idea it was so complicated!

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    • Thanks! You’re photos are always great. I think my iPhone pictures are much better than the ones I take with my good camera. For me this is good and not so good — good that I have that as an option, but not good because I feel like I’m wasting such a nice camera. I either need to commit to learning to use it or sell it. My motivation is high right now so I’m trying to go with it. And yes — it is complicated…

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  5. Those are great action shots! I especially love the first one. He may not be sharp but the slight blur, the motion in the image gives the feel of movement.

    As for getting razor sharp action shots, anything over 1/500 helps. And don’t get too hung up on Manual. Even though I know how to fully operate my camera in M, I still put it in Aperture or Shutter priority. Especially with outdoor action shots! I’d rather get the blurry shot than no shot because I was still messing with the settings.

    Keep at it! Your images look great & I’m looking forward to seeing more.

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    • Thanks! You know it’s funny after all that, I like the first one best too. And of course that one happened in a rather organic way — all my favorite shots do. I was just snapping and not trying to do anything in particular. Your shots are so inspiring and you keep getting better and better.

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  6. Okay, the problem I have with photography is the same as you. The patience it takes to get a great shot. All the settings that have to be considered. I took an online course through Perfect Picture School of Photography. Most lessons taught by Brian Peterson. Most of the lessons are YouTube videos. If you go to YouTube and search for Brian Peterson freezing action, there are videos. Of course, he always talks about the math part of things. I don’t know…somewhere, I missed the lessons of fractions, therefore some of this goes over my head and I have to watch the videos over and over. Also, from my photographer friends who have mastered this art, they tell me…practice, practice, practice. Hope this helps. Nice shots, by the way. 🙂

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    • That’s a great idea! I usually do well with YouTube videos. Thanks. I know what you mean. I just find the settings so damn tedious and I can’t ever remember anything unless I write it down and look at it over and over and over. I would say that maybe it’s ADHD, but Gil has it and he can hyper focus like a madman on technical stuff. Me…not so much. I don’t even have the patience for figuring out a good theme to showcase photographs in WordPress. I couldn’t immediately make the pictures bigger so I just had to move on with it. Sigh. All I can do is keep trying. I think you’re right and my photography friends confirm this as well. Practice is key.

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