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Beginner Photography: Action

Whoo boy, action is hard! As you may have guessed, I’m not big on sports which seems like the obvious place to go for action shots at short notice. But I do happen to have children. We were invited to a kid’s birthday party this weekend at an indoor playground, so I lucked into some action. The lighting wasn’t ideal, but I did my best.

This is a great post on how to shoot action on a budget, written by a reader of ours. And a great video on shutter speed from Tony and Chelsea here:

I don’t regularly shoot in shutter priority, but it’s a necessity for shooting action. You want to shoot at the slowest shutter speed possible and still freeze the action, but also get enough light and show a bit of motion. If you freeze the subject entirely, the motion won’t convey. If your subject is moving too much, you’ll totally miss focus (although you can make that choice artistically.)

So I pretty much followed my daughter around for the day and shot on continuous shutter to capture as many different moments of movement as I could. Here’s what I got:

f/3.5, 1/80th, ISO 800

This one doesn’t really convey the motion I want. She’s at the top of the slide so it’s a moment before action, but I liked her expression and eye contact.


f/3.5, 1/125, ISO 1600

The motion is better on this one, the hoop is blurred but she is still. I just wish the background had been better.


f/3.5, 1/160, ISO 1600

Jump! I think this was a good speed, only her hair and hands are moving.


f/3.5, 1/80, ISO 1600

I love the motion in this one of the balls in the foreground and of her hands moving. Unfortunately her face is out of focus.


I think these came out pretty good considering the lighting and busyness of the background (that’s why I went black and white for most of them.) I think I captured some of the fun and focus of a kid at play. How do these work for you?