Monday (or Tuesday) Photography Tip, Belated: Stopping Action

Hey, y’all!

Today’s quick (and not terribly detailed) tip will be about stopping action.

Enter my friend Chase.

(Chase was putting on his game face before the Hunks and Punks Game.)

Chase is an amazing athlete and does crazy stuff like WWF, or WWE, or WWWJD, or MMA, or TTFN…. 

I have no idea.  I just know he goes to competitions where he wrestles, boxes, kicks, punches, bites, pulls hair, gives noogies, and spits in people’s faces.  (It’s really no big deal…I see that kind of fisticuffs at my family’s holiday gatherings every December.  We just don’t give out medals.) 

Really, all I know is, Chase has to be in shape and keep flexible.

So, the other day before the Hunks and Punks game, he decided to perform in a pre-game show…off.  (My other small friend is Tommy–the Prop.)

And, because I caught Chase in action, I thought I’d use those shots to show you a couple of ways to stop action:

1) You can turn your camera dial–that round dial on top of your camera–from the green box (which means auto programming–the camera does it all for you) to the running man symbol.  This little guy represents sports, action, movement. 

If you choose the running man, your camera will bump up your shutter speed and decide which is the best apeture setting, as well as ISO.  It’s a great setting, especially if you like your camera doing the thinking for you.  You’d want to use this setting when taking shots at an athletic event, or when people/vehicles/animals, etc., are moving about quickly. 

2) Another way to stop action is to turn that same dial to the Tv Mode setting on your camera. (See the little letters Tv?)  This is your shutter priority mode.  That means, the camera will prioritize the shutter speed that YOU choose, and will then it will pick an apeture setting that best suits your shutter speed and lighting situation.

So, let’s say you’ve chosen the Tv Mode.  Now what? 

When taking pictures, outdoors, in good daylight, you can usually stop action, fairly consistently, by setting your Tv (shutter speed) to 1/500th of a second.  As I said, once you’ve dialed in 1/500 in your shutter speed, your camera will then choose the apeture for you.  You should also leave your ISO setting at 100, maybe 200–the higher your ISO, the more sensitive your camera becomes to light and it can easily blow-out, or over-expose, the shot. 

 1/500 shutter speed is a pretty good place to start, but as you venture out of auto-programming and into controlling your camera, you’ll need to play around with the settings.  Don’t decide to play with the settings if you are taking pictures of something terribly important, though.  If you are unsure, switch it back over to the green box or to the auto-action setting (little running man symbol) and let your camera do the work for you. 

On a day that you don’t have to have good pictures, go outside with the kids, and while they play, practice shooting in Tv Mode.   (If 1/500 makes your shots too dark, slow down the shutter speed to 1/400, etc.  Or, bump up your ISO ever so slightly.) 

That means, practice, practice, practice.  Take lots and lots of pictures, moving out of the auto settings on your camera–remember, it’s digital and you can delete!   You’ll learn more by doing.

I know this is short and not very detail oriented, but I wanted to give you a good place to start.  We’ll talk, later, on what to do if you need to stop action in other lighting situations. 

For now, try just this one tip–setting your shutter speed to 1/500, shooting outside, ISO 100, for action shots.  (Don’t mess with other settings, just yet, if you don’t have to.  That can only serve to confuse and overwhelm you.  Take baby steps!) 

Let’s continue to learn together! 

Happy shooting,



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