Pro Tip: How to Freeze the Action

Pro Tip: How to Freeze the Action

Use a FAST Shutter Speed

When trying to freeze the action and create blurr-free images with longer lenses, I try to shoot at a shutter speed of at least 1/500 second and optimally about 1/2000 of a second for most sports. Generally I recommend that photographers use manual metering (my preference) or shutter speed priority, where you set the ISO and the shutter speed and the camera adjusts the f/stop automatically. This is a quick and easy way to shoot sports and you can use your exposure compensation controls to adjust to the light conditions if necessary. This is especially helpful when shooting near white snow and ice which might throw off your meter as it tries to adjust between the bright background and darker subject. Turn image review on so that you can evaluate your images often, ensure that your whites aren’t blown out, and zoom in to make sure that your image is razor sharp.

Push the High ISO Capabilities of Your Camera to the Limit

Another cool option on many new cameras is Auto-ISO. This feature enables you to set your desired shutter speed and aperture and the camera will adjust the ISO or sensitivity of your sensor to get a correct exposure. Most of the newer cameras have phenomenal high ISO capabilities which make getting great sports images easier than ever, especially at indoor venues. Experiment with the ISO settings on your camera and evaluate your results. The higher the ISO the more noise or grain you will get, so use it, but use it mindfully. Many of my indoor shots from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics were shot at 3200 or 4000 ISO (like my Figure Skater image above, shot with my Nikon D3s and 600mm lens: f/7.1 at 1/1000sec at 3200ISO ) and I have enlarged them to 24×36 inches with very little grain and remarkable results.

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