Shooting tips > Capture the Motion in Photographs

Level: Beginner

LESSON 12Capture the Motion in Photographs

Focal length: 180 mm / F-number: 5.0 / Shutter speed: 1/4000 sec

In this chapter, you will learn some techniques to shoot moving subjects in sports scenes or railway photography with a sense of presence and dynamism. The α cameras have various functions to shoot moving subjects. As the first step, try the advice provided below.

How to shoot with the motion stopped

To stop the motion of the subject momentarily and capture it as the impressive best shot, you need to shoot at faster shutter speeds. The shutter speed can be set as you like in the S-mode, but use the "Sports Action" mode in Scene Selection (shooting mode) at first.
The "Sports Action" mode allows you to take a shot freezing the motion of moving subjects. With faster shutter speeds and the AF operation to continuously track the movement of the subjects, this mode is suitable for moving subjects. Also, as the continuous shooting mode is automatically activated in this mode, it is easier to capture the best moment of the scene. Note that the continuous shooting will stop if you remove your finger from the shutter button after the shutter is released once. Make sure to keep holding the shutter button all through the scene you want to capture.

1/800 sec 1/800 sec

To shoot the above examples, the photographer pressed and held down the shutter button while the dog was running. The above 2 photographs are the best shots among the continuous shots. With the shutter speed set to 1/800 sec, the motion of the subject looks stopped.

As the "Sports Action" mode in Scene Selection is one of the auto shooting modes, you cannot change the settings of brightness and color. To use the functions to change them, such as exposure compensation and white balance, shoot in the S-mode. When shooting in the S-mode, set the autofocus mode to AF-C (Continuous AF), and the drive mode to Continuous Shooting, so that you can shoot moving subjects continuously.

Deciding the composition

If you get used to continuous shooting, consider the composition as well. As shown in "1. Shoot Impressive Portraits with People Highlighted" and "9. Let the Small Item Play the Major Role," the typical well-balanced composition is the "Rule of Thirds" composition. However, for scenes where you want to express the dynamism of the moment, the composition with the subject in the center of the frame is also recommended. This composition is effective for expressing the power and theme of the subject clearly. When shooting sports scenes, by capturing the close-up of the main subject in motion in the center of the frame, you can finish up your photograph impressively with a full sense of presence.

Focal length: 300 mm / F-number: 5.6 / Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec

These examples are shot in the composition with the subject in the center of the frame. By zooming in on the subject with a telephoto lens, the photographs convey the power and dynamism of the subject. Also, as the subject is in the center of the frame, it is easier to bring it in focus.

When you are shooting moving subjects, the situation can change dramatically in a moment, unlike when shooting motionless landscapes. Therefore, the top priorities are not to miss the shooting opportunities and to take as many shots as possible. First, get used to continuous shooting, and leave the composition until you have more leeway. You can also compose photographs by trimming them in the computer after you get home.

Focal length: 70 mm / F-number: 5.6 / Shutter speed: 1/400 sec

Trying telephoto lenses

In sports scenes like the above examples, zooming in on the subject is effective for conveying the dynamism. Especially, in environment where you need to shoot from a distance, telephoto lenses are necessary. Telephoto lenses are highly recommended for those who often shoot sports games, birds and animals.

Focal length: 300 mm / F-number: 7.1 / Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec

SAL70300G

This G Series lens delivers an appealing combination of extended zoom range plus excellent image quality. An ED lens element achieves exceptionally low aberration right out to the maximum 300 mm focal length, so that your telephoto images benefit from impressive clarity and depth. SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) provides fast and quiet autofocus operation, while the focus hold and focus range switches offer precision focusing control. With the ability to focus as closely as 1.2m, this telephoto lens also lets you move in for shooting people or close-up details.

Focal length: 208 mm / F-number: 6.3 / Shutter speed: 1/320 sec

SEL55210

This 3.8x zoom lens takes you from 55 mm out to 210 mm with consistently outstanding optical performance all the way. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization makes it easier to achieve crisp, stable images and video in low-light or when zooming in on distant subjects. Additionally, the internal drive motor and internal focusing make smooth and responsive AF possible with minimum noise, perfect for video capture.