If you’re trying to take some sports or general action photos this fall, it can be tricky to make sure the main moving subject in your shot stays in focus. For the most part, your subject won’t be stationary for long, and won’t be consistently moving towards or away from you. Considering this, the length from which you’ll need to focus on will be ever-changing throughout the shoot. This might sound too tricky to approach, but luckily, there are a few simple adjustments you can make that should make capturing that action much easier.
Depending on what type of camera you’re working with, automatic tracking might be an option, and an extremely helpful one at that. This function is able to keep a moving subject in focus as long as the photographer continues to hold the shutter release halfway down. Most DSLRs offer this option, and it’s arguably the simplest approach to the action shot technique.
This is another way you can attempt to keep your subject in focus. Although this is slightly more difficult than the aforementioned method, some photographers are more comfortable with the creative control offered by manual photography, and are more pleased with the compositional results. So getting started, if the subject of your shot is in motion, you will probably achieve the best results if you can select a point of focus before the subject reaches it. So for example, if your friend is running a 5k and asked you to capture some snapshots of the race, try to pick a point of focus that you know he or she will run through before they actually reach that point. Keep your focus at the ready, and shoot the moment they run through that preselected spot.
It’s important to remember that if the subject you’re photographing is moving relatively quickly (a car speeding by on the highway for example), you will need to ensure your camera is set to a fast shutter speed. Beyond that, it might also be wise to try experimenting with continuous shooting mode as well. Do some research into your specific camera model’s capabilities and try to see how many frames per second it is able to capture. For example, if your device captures 3 per second (most capture even more), you can create a 6-shot photo series simply by holding the shutter for a quick 2 second duration if you activate continuous shooting. This is a super effective tool to use when you want to capture an action that will happen extremely briefly. Relying on yourself to click the shutter at precisely the right moment is much riskier than capturing, say, a 12 shot series of a few seconds worth of time, action included.