Sports & Action

Techniques for taking action shots

Written by Gail Bjork

Camera techniques for sports and action photography.


PanningFreeze action by “panning,” a camera in the same direction as the moving subject. Panning produces images with part of the scene in sharp focus and other parts blurred.

When panning, anticipate the action by starting to pan the camera prior to the subject actually entering into view. As you track the subject, follow the action by steadily turning your body.

After you snap the shutter-release button, continue to move the camera in the same direction for a few moments. This follow-through movement will help keep the main subject from becoming blurred. Check if your digital cameras has a panning mode.

Vary zoom focal lengths

You will probably use the telephoto lens fully zoomed in for close-ups, but try other zoom ranges too for varied shots.

RaceVary picture taking angle

If you can, move around. Take photos at eye level, but also from above or below the subject for added interest and dynamics.

Keep it steady

Try to keep your camera as steady as possible to prevent camera shake. If it has Image Stabilization, use it.

If you are in a stationary place, use a tripod, monopod or other camera support. Prefocus on an area where you anticipate the subject will be, watch for the subject out of the corner of an eye, and then shoot at the appropriate moment.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.