Start Smart: Take Action Photos

Capture fast-paced summer adventures with these image-improving tips.

SHOT Leaping into a lake

PROBLEM All you get is the splash

SOLUTION Anticipate shutter lag and increase shutter speed

Step 1: Compensate for digital shutter lag–the delay between pressing the button and opening the shutter–by pointing the camera where you want to shoot and pressing the button halfway down. That locks in the focus and other settings.
Step 2: Manually increase the shutter speed, or switch to the camera's "sports" mode (indicated by a "running man" icon). Shooting at higher speeds (1/500 a second or faster) keeps moving subjects in focus and shortens the depth of field to blur the background.
Step 3: Before your friend jumps in the lake, ask him to toss a rock to dial in your focus and reaction time.

SHOT Jumping across a stream

PROBLEM Subject is blurry

SOLUTION Follow the action with your camera. Instead of freezing the movement with a faster shutter speed (like the lake shot above), create a dynamic image by panning. Do it by moving the camera in sync with your subject, and pressing the shutter button when the action is at its climax–or when the person fills the frame. This technique keeps the foreground subject in focus while blurring the stationary background. For the best results, get closer to your subject and continue panning after you take the shot to avoid an abrupt stop.

SHOT Sliding down a steep scree slope

PROBLEM The slope looks underwhelming

SOLUTION Shift your position

Shoot from the side to increase the sense of speed or steepness of terrain, or from below to exaggerate the height or length of a jump. Get off-trail and use the terrain–like a log, cliff, or bridge–to frame the scene.