Your Photo: Our Critique

Chris Dahlen submitted this image taken with a Canon Rebel XSi, with an exposure of 1/2000sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600.Chris is 15 years old and was concerned about having a fast enough shutter speed in the shade and has asked for advice on what to do in this situation next time to freeze the action. First off, this is a nice basic action shot.You have a nice vertical running across the image and the action is definitely frozen.The exposure is pretty good especially considering the background is light

Chris Dahlen submitted this image taken with a Canon Rebel XSi, with an exposure of 1/2000sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600. Chris is 15 years old and was concerned about having a fast enough shutter speed in the shade and has asked for advice on what to do in this situation next time to freeze the action.  First off, this is a nice basic action shot. You have a nice vertical running across the image and the action is definitely frozen. The exposure is pretty good especially considering the background is lighter than the area in which the dog is. Often in this situation the in camera meter will misinterpret the light and underexpose your subject. All in all this is a nice photo, the higher ISO is a bit of an issue as the photo has a little digital noise.  Action shots are a lot of fun and for most moving objects, you can freeze the action with a shutter speed as low as 1/300sec.  Often in gyms and night time stadiums you will be lucky to get 1/300sec at ISO 3200. In daytime you should be able to use a lower ISO and still freeze the action. I realize the newer cameras have higher ISOs but for now let’s stick to the equipment at hand. A great lens that should be in every bag is a 50mm, f/1.8, which most brands offer for around $125.  The larger aperture offers more light, which means faster shutter speeds and greater control of depth of field.  In this image the background is not really an issue, but often in action shots the background can clutter the image, but a shallow depth of field can clean up the background and make your subject pop. Other ways to shoot action is to pan, this works best with colorful backgrounds and subjects that are traveling a predictable straight line, like race horses, bicyclists and even long jump skiers. Some blur in action shots gives a feel of motion. I would suggest to anyone wanting to improve their action photography to study sporting magazines and consider what draws you into some photos but not others. Study the perspective, the way the light falls on the subject and the action within the photo itself. Consider using a flash to freeze the action, allowing a slower shutter speed and lower ISO.  Good luck Chris and keep practicing , you  are off to a good start.

—Melissa Macatee
Contributing Blogger

This photo gets three and a half stars on the PopPhoto Flash rating system.

The PopPhoto Flash rating system.
*= This part of the camera is called the lens
**= Don't quit your day job
***= Good, but not yet great
****=So close you can taste it
*****= Yes, a thousand times yes!

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