On the Wing.....
Sandhill Cranes 600mm f.5.6 @ 500th sec.
Osprey 600mm f.4 @ 750th sec.
Hummingbird 300mm f2.8 @ 1500th sec.
Action photographs can be extremely challenging, but not impossible if you keep your wits about you and concentrate on the action before you. Whether photographing sports, race cars, air shows, or wildlife, it's technique that matters most. In this case, understanding the importance of shutter speed and how it can affect the final image.
Most of us tend to underestimate how fast things happen. Our eyes have an amazing ability to stay with the action, regardless of its' speed. For the most part, the human eye can discern incredible detail even when an object is moving. But, of course, even the eye has its' limitations. Our cameras can help in this regard by stopping the action for a closer inspection. That is, in large part, the fascination with "stop action" photography. By freezing a moment in time, we give ourselves a chance to see what the eye may have missed, and see that moment with amazing detail.
When shooting action subjects, it important to shoot in Shutter Priority Mode. This allows the photographer to select a specific shutter speed to match the action of the scene. The faster the shutter speed, the more chance you have of freezing your subject. However, faster shutter speeds demand more light. Fortunately, many of todays' newer cameras have the ability to produce wonderful images in very low light situation. By simply increasing the ISO setting, we can now achieve some very high shutter speeds. Most actions shots are going to demand shutter speeds in excess of 1/250 of a sec.. In fact, I often find myself shooting in the range of 1/1000 to 1/2500 of a sec. to stop the action of flying birds. Even with those speeds, not all of the images make the final cut.
If action photography is your game, then your next camera purchase should take a serious look into the low light capabilities of the camera you're considering. As a bird photographer, the ability to shoot at ever increasing ISO's is a primary factor. Producing "clean" images at 1600 - 3200 ISO is a dream come true. Fortunately, that dream has become a reality, and the images of the future will just keep blowing our minds. What a fun time to be a photographer!