How to Shoot Action Sports Photography with Freeze Motion? - B&C Camera

Ready to freeze some epic moments and capture the heart-pounding action of your favorite sports? Whether you're a seasoned shutterbug or just getting started, I've got your back with tips, tricks, and many 'wows' along the way. Strap on your photography gear, tighten your shoelaces, and let's jump right into the action!

How to Shoot Action Sports Photography with Freeze Motion?

  1. Use a fast shutter speed
  2. Open up your aperture
  3. Set Your ISO Low (if possible)
  4. Use burst mode (continuous shooting)
  5. Set your white balance
  6. Don't use a flash
  7. Trust your camera's autofocus


The first thing you need to know about freeze motion photography is how to set up your camera. You want to avoid fumbling around with settings during the start of a game and missing any moments.


Use a Fast Shutter Speed

Using a fast shutter speed is critical when photographing the action in sports. Typically, a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second or faster is recommended to effectively freeze the action. However, the specific shutter speed you choose may vary depending on the speed of the subject and the amount of light available.


For fast-moving sports or activities, like racing cars or extreme sports, you should go even faster with shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second or higher to ensure the subject is perfectly frozen in the frame. On the other hand, if you're shooting in low light conditions, you may need to compromise by slightly lowering your shutter speed to allow more light in, but be careful not to introduce motion blur.


Experimenting with different shutter speeds is crucial to finding the perfect balance between freezing the action and capturing sufficient light without that unsightly motion blur. Unfortunately, if your photos are a blurry mess, no amount of editing will be your saving grace. 

Related article: What is Shutter Speed in Photography?


Open Up Your Aperture

Open up that aperture wide (lower f-stop number)! Choosing a wider aperture will let ample light in, especially when photographing indoor sports.


A wider aperture, such as f/2.8 or even wider, helps keep a fast shutter speed. This larger aperture also creates a shallower depth of field, which can help single out the subject from the background, adding a nice sense of depth.


For outdoor sports with bright lighting conditions, you may need to adjust your aperture to a slightly smaller value (higher f-stop number) to prevent overexposure, or use a neutral density (ND) filter over your lens.

Related article: What is Aperture and How to Use It?


Set Your ISO Low (If Possible)

I recommend starting with the lowest ISO possible for crisp and clear images, and a lower ISO helps reduce digital noise for cleaner and sharper images. So, start with an ISO setting, such as ISO 100 or 200, especially when shooting in well-lit conditions. 


The ISO setting should be adjusted depending on the available light. In low-light situations, you should increase the ISO to maintain that fast shutter speed to freeze the action without having an ugly motion blur. As you increase the ISO, though, be aware that it can also increase the noise level in your images. Strike a balance between having a fast shutter speed and keeping that ISO as low as possible.

Related article: What is ISO in Photography - When do I Use it?


Use Burst Mode (Continuous Shooting)

You can never have too many photographs, especially of sports. You might take 500 photos and only get 30 good ones. To give your finger some clicking relief, use the burst mode setting! The burst mode setting will allow your camera to automatically grab several shots with one simple click. Side note - keep memory cards handy! You want to fill up your memory card with a backup nearby.


Set Your White Balance

So, how different lighting situations can make things look a little wonky in your photos? Well, that's where white balance comes into play. Think of white balance as your camera's secret weapon for getting colors to look close to their true form.


Start with the "Auto" white balance setting on your camera. This little wizardry feature does a decent job of determining the correct color temperature for the scene you're shooting.


The auto mode might sometimes get confused, especially when dealing with crazy lighting situations like stadiums or funky indoor arenas. That's when you can need to take control. 


If your photos turn out too warm/orangish, try switching to the "Shade" or "Cloudy" white balance settings. On the other hand, if your images appear too cold/bluish, go for the "Daylight" or "Sunny" white balance presets.


If your photos turn out too warm/orangish, try switching to the "Shade" or "Cloudy" white balance settings. These settings add a cool touch to your shots, balancing out the warm tones and making everything look more natural. 


On the other hand, if your images appear too cold/bluish, go for the "Daylight" or "Sunny" white balance presets. These settings add warmth and bring back those vibrant colors, making your freeze-motion shots pop.

Related article: White Balance Photography: What is White Balance


Don't Use a Flash

Most sports you watch are in the distance, and it's rare to be close to your subject. Because of this, you shouldn't even worry about your flash because it's pretty useless, so just turn it off. 


And, if you CAN get close, your flash can be an annoying distraction. Recently my daughter had a wrestling match - someone on the sidelines kept snapping away with a flash and throwing her off. All the flash ends up doing is frustrating the athletes.


Trust Your Camera's Autofocus

Autofocus can be your best buddy when photographing sports. It lets you focus quickly on your subject, ensuring those exhilarating moments are captured in sharp detail without missing a beat.


However, there are times when autofocus might need help to keep up, especially if the lighting is tricky or other distractions are around. In those cases, manual focus comes to the rescue. With manual focus, you take control and adjust the focus yourself. It gives you precise control over what you want to be in focus - regardless of the camera's autofocus performance. 


If you trust your camera's autofocus and it's doing a stellar job, go ahead and let it handle the focus. But if you want more precision, switch to manual focus and take charge.


If you trust your camera's autofocus and it's doing a stellar job, go ahead and let it handle the focus. But if you want more precision, switch to manual focus and take charge.


Embrace the excitement, and let your camera capture the essence of raw energy. Whether you're freezing a skateboard flip, a racecard zooming by, or a soccer ball mid-flight, your freeze motion skills will leave jaws dropping and hearts racing. So keep shooting, keep freezing, and keep those unforgettable moments alive. 


Related article: 10 Sports Photography Tips for Rookies

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