We've all experienced the frustration of being just a fraction late in catching that magic moment on camera. Being quick and incisive enough to capture these fleeting moments can be quite a challenge, be it a memorable stroke in a cricket match or a stunning shot on goal on the football pitch. To seize that perfect moment before it's lost forever, timing is all-important. We give you 20 tips on how you can achieve just that.

Whether you aspire to be a professional sports photographer, or you simply wish to shoot some great photographs of your child’s school sports events, all it takes to master the art of action photography is a thorough understanding of what you are shooting. Combine that with the knowledge of equipment and technique, hard work and practice, and you can significantly improve your action photographs.

Image Courtesy: Vipin Pawar

Learn to Anticipate the Moment
A photo-opportunity comes by as quickly as it goes. So you have only a fraction of a second to make the shot. Before you set out to shoot any activity, study the nature of the action or understand the basic rules of the sport and research what you should be specifically looking out for. It will help you anticipate moments before they come, giving you enough time to trigger the shutter.

Look for the Peak of Action
A photograph of the precise moment when a boxer is landing a punch on his opponent is more impactful than when he is about to land the punch. In the case of ball games like tennis, cricket and table-tennis, there will always be one brief moment when the ball can also be captured in the frame.
If you are shooting a race, then the moment the lead runner reaches the finish line and raises his/her hands in jubilation is the moment to look out for. Stay alert and look for dramatic moments like these.

Focus on Emotion
Emotion and energy are essential to capture great action shots. Whether it is professional or galli cricket you are photographing, look for emotion-filled images. For instance, a bowler celebrating a wicket with unbridled aggression on his face, or a dejected batsman walking back to the dressing room. If it is a team game, then in the final few minutes, you may find stress or confidence visible on the faces of the players, depending on how their game is going. Make such scenes the central focus of your photographs to maximize the visual impact.

Image Courtesy: Vipin Pawar

Tell a Story
A person viewing your photographs should be able to understand what you saw at the actual event. For instance, if you are shooting your children running a three-legged race, ensure that you include their faces clearly. Their camaraderie and unspoken communication will be reflected in the way they try to support each other. That presents a more wholesome story than a photograph of just your child.

Image Courtesy: Vipin Pawar

Find the Right Angle
A good position is one that gives you a clear view of the action, keeps you out of harm’s way, provides a pleasant backdrop, and also works with the lighting of the scene. Make it a point to visit the location prior to a game, walk around and identify places you can shoot from. You may not be able to get access to the best spots at professional events, but that doesn't mean you can't shoot great pictures.
At motorsport races, there is generally more action at the corners, where the drivers slow down for a turn and tend to clutter together. Practice shooting at local events like boat races or a kabaddi match to build up your portfolio. Present it to a local newspaper and get yourself a shooting pass.

Publish date: April 8, 2010 2:27 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 6:13 pm

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