photographer's secrets - wake surfing

Snap the summer action! 4 photographer’s secrets for capturing motion

These photographer’s secrets are for DSLR and iPhone!

Whether its crossing the finish line of a race, nailing a dismount from the beam,  or a silly cannonball into the pool… our kids are in constant motion. We want to capture those whirlwind moments in photos! Those split seconds of life are easy to document when you know where to focus.

Photographer and sports-mom, Jess Kettle, helps us capture those shots with ease.


Freeze Motion with Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the length of time the camera shutter remains open and exposes the sensor to light – which is what creates a photo. We’re talking about fractions of a second, and it would surprise you to know how high that speed needs to be to freeze motion.

Jessica said when she is shooting something like gymnastics or mountain biking where the subject is moving incredibly fast, she needs to set her shutter speed to between 1/500 and 1/1000th of a second! Otherwise, you get that frustrating motion blur.

This is especially tricky for indoor sports like gymnastics, dance, basketball, etc. which are typically not very well lit. To compensate, make sure you’re shooting at a high ISO and keeping your aperture as low as possible. If you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, learning to shoot in manual is incredibly helpful, but shutter priority and auto ISO are great options! Also make sure you’re shooting in burst mode

Focus + Tracking

Focusing on a moving subject can be REALLY challenging! Even on a nice camera, you may miss shots with the camera searching or miss focusing. Newer cameras have advanced technology that allows you to lock in on the eye of your subject, or even prioritize searching for people, cars, animals etc. You can also use continuous focus mode in most cameras.

iPhones capture a wider depth of field, so tracking isn’t quite as hard! Picture quality isn’t quite as good, though.

Framing + Composition

On both iPhone and DSLR/Mirrorless cameras, if you’re struggling to track your subject Jessica loves this trick:

Anticipate where your subject is GOING to be for the best shot. Set yourself up and find something to PRE focus on in that area. Find your best angle and wait for your subject to enter the frame and shoot!

This helps with stronger/more interesting compositions and gives you a better chance at getting that money shot.

Be creative! Get low and try new angles – zoom in, zoom way out, see what happens. Once you nail the technical aspects, you can focus more on creativity.

Look for the Moments in Between

Wait to put your camera down – look for details, in between moments, teammate interactions, etc. The photos before and after the epic shots are often just as powerful and the ones you want to remember the most. These are the photos that help tell a complete story.

Find more of Jessica’s work on Instagram, @jesskettle.

Add comment