How to Take Good Action Photo




This is a case to illustrate how to get the best pictures for action events, in particular, with a Canon EOS 40D digital camera, a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens in a football game.

1. Firstly, you will be a bit under-lensed with the 70-200 as far as focal length reach. But since that is the lens you have to work with, here are my suggestions. First, at 200mm of reach, your images will only be good and sharp up to distances of about 25-30 meters away. So move around and try to stay close to the action.

2. If you will be shooting soccer games in the daytime with decent lighting, use Av mode, and select the 70-200's largest aperture value ... f/4. This lens produces very sharp images and great background blur at f/4.

3. Set your ISO to a value that gets you a shutter speed of at least 1/1000s, if not higher. If you can get 1/4000s at ISO400, go for it. Don’t be afraid to start out using ISO400. This camera produces neglible noise at ISO400.

4. Use one of the preset WB settings as applies to your sky conditions. If its cloudy/overcast outside, use the Cloudy WB setting, if its sunny outside, use the Daylight WB setting.

5. Use center weighted average metering, as this metering mode takes less of your background into account while properly metering your subject.

6. I like to use the Standard Picture Styles, and set Contrast and Color Tone to the default "0" setting, but set the Saturation to -1, but its all a matter of your taste.

7. You want to expose for the players faces/skin, not the uniforms or the field. Its OK to overexpose the uniforms a little bit in order to get proper exposures on the faces/skin. As far as dialing in the correct exposure using Av mode, you will need to check your review image and histogram. In Av mode, you will have to use the Exposure Compensation function to adjust your exposure. Take some test shots before the match begins and start off by using “0” EC. If your player is underexposed, bump up your EC in positive 1/3 steps until you reach the proper exposure. If your player is overexposed, lower your EC in negative 1/3 steps until you reach the proper exposure.

8. If it's a sunny day, shoot with the sun behind you or at least to the side of you. Avoid shooting in the direction of the sun, as your players' front sides will be in the shadows.

9. As far as focusing is concerned, use center point only.

10. Use Ai Servo AF (continuous focus mode) and use the high speed drive (6.5 fps). Set CFn. IV-1 to setting #2 and use your AF-ON button for continuous focusing and use the shutter release button to only actuate the shutter. Track your moving subject by keeping the center focus point over the subject, pan the camera to follow his movements, all the while keeping your thumb mashed down on the AF-ON button. When you see the action you want to photograph, keep your thumb on the AF-ON button and fire the shutter button at the desired time and keep tracking and keep firing thru-out your burst sequence.

11. Make sure you have a fully charged battery and a large enough CF card. For shooting a soccer match, I would highly recommend shooting in jpeg rather than RAW. The files sizes are hugh when shooting in RAW. Since you are likely to take hundreds of images during the match, your CF card will fill up quickly. Its also alot of photos to have to post process when using RAW. Most sports photographers shoot in jpeg.

Hope this helps and good luck with the photoshoot.

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