5 tips for improving your action photography

From lighting and shutter speed to editing software – follow our 5 tips to nail those action shots…

13 Jul 2016


Do you want to take pictures of wildlife while you’re on your travels? Or maybe you’re a keen photographer who wants to improve their skills by perfecting tricky action shots. 

Either way, all you need is a camera and a laptop with editing software to get professional looking shots with zero blur…

Here’s how to get the best from your action photos...


1. Position your camera and find the right lighting

You want your camera to be in a position that gives you a good view of the action. If you’re in a new place, try to scope out the location you want to shoot beforehand so you’re familiar with it.

Lighting is one of the most important factors for taking photos – and natural light is by far the best.

Getting the right angle also helps to capture the best image. Ideally angle the lighting above your subject so they’re turning to face the sunlight. 

However, if you do choose to shoot indoors you can create a similar effect with artificial light in the same position. Or place a reflector (like a white piece of card or even a sheet) under your subject to reflect light to areas where shadows exist.


2. Set up your camera

Make sure you set your camera up correctly for taking action shots. To start, select a high shutter speed so the moving image doesn’t blur. Anything from 1/500 second to 1/1000 second should do the trick, depending on how fast your subject is moving.

However, as you shorten the shutter speed you need to have a wider aperture. Wider aperture means you get a narrower depth of field – the area in focus. 

Get round this by increasing the ISO (sensitivity of the camera to light). Although this tends to increase the amount of noise (distortion) you get, so you need to find the best compromise between these in your settings.

Alternatively, go for a camera with a built-in focus tracking mode. This will automatically track your subject – say, a bird flying across the sky – as it moves.


3. Or go for a dedicated action cam

Want a camera that can keep up with you? Action cameras are great if you’re on an adventure holiday and want to capture the action as it happens. 

Most action cams are waterproof and shock-resistant – so whether you’re on a ski break or surfing trip, they’ll stand up to the test.

For real-time action shots, mount it to your helmet or bike handlebars and shoot as you go. However, they’re generally geared towards filming video rather than taking still photos.

See our range of action cameras

Tip: Make sure you get the right SD card for your action cam. Most, but not all, need a microSD card instead of a plain SD card, so it’s best to check the tech specs of your camera before you buy.

Buying a new camera? Find out which is right for you

Compact camera

4. Timing is everything

When you’re shooting action photos, it’s important to get the timing right. Take the shot just before the moment you want to capture, so the camera can react in time.

Wait until the movement is in full motion to get the best possible picture of it. It helps if you know your subject so practice is key.


5. Edit and share your photos

Use your laptop and photo-editing software like Photoshop to make your pictures look their best. Here are 5 great laptops for photo editing <link to: 5 laptops for photo editing (when live)> Retouch your photos by adjusting the brightness, colours and contrast, and eliminate any blur from shaky hands.

Check out our range of editing software

Uploading to Instagram? Avoid filters if you can and use a more advanced app like VSCO to give your pictures a professional edge.

Looking for a new laptop to edit your photos? See our full range