How to Shoot an Action Sequence Photo

Give context to your buddy’s mid-jump flail by capturing it from start to finish with a sequence composite.

Frame the action.

Anticipate movements involving a range of unique body positions over a short distance. Think: leaps, dives, and running sequences. Set up your shot so the action fills the length of the frame and the subject moves through the photo’s center.

Keep it steady.

Use a tripod to keep the background consistent for easier editing. Avoid shooting on a windy day or in quickly changing light—mismatched frames will muddle the end result.

Use burst mode.

Burst mode takes ma rapid-fire series of photos while you hold the shutter release. Most cameras have fast and slow options in the burst mode menu. Pick the faster one to capture a wider selection of images to choose from in editing.

Consider a self-portrait.

Going solo? Turn on interval shooting instead. Set your camera up to take a photo every second as you wander a length of trail or move around camp doing chores, posing, or relaxing.

Edit, edit, edit.

In Photoshop, import all the photos as separate layers in one file. Turn them all on, lower the opacity, and pick your favorites. Look for dramatic change between body positions and choose spacing that lets each one breathe. Delete unwanted layers and bring the keepers back to 100 percent opacity. Starting with your first chronological body position, draw a path around the subject and use the layer masking tool to hide the background. Repeat with each layer until they’re all stacked on your final image, and all positions are visible.