Tip of the Day – Pay attention to the light

Tip of the Day – Pay attention to the light

2 of 10 in the series 10 Tips for Taking Better Action Photos of Dogs

2. Pay attention to the light

Plentiful light is a crucial ingredient in creating sharp, in-focus action photos. Why? Because lots of light allows you to use a fast shutter speed and helps the autofocus system by providing more contrast to lock onto.

When you have a good location sorted, take an evaluative look at the light. Check the direction? Brightness? Quality? Any light blocks/sources of shade?

On a sunny day, shoot at the ends of the day – early morning or late afternoon – and shoot with the sun behind you. Even though it provides the most intense light, avoid shooting in the middle of the day – the direction of light from overhead is harsh and unflattering to your subject.

If shooting backlit action, make sure there is enough light to create contrast in your subject for the camera’s autofocus to lock onto, and avoid flare by making sure the end of your lens is shaded from the sun.

On cloudy days, don’t shoot too early or too late as the intensity of light is going to be drastically reduced. It’s especially important to steer clear of sources of shade when it’s cloudy. Clouds create soft, diffused light which means you can shoot from more directions – it can really open up the background possibilities of the location.


Backlit action: Canon EOS 1D X, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II @ 90mm, ISO 640, 1/1600 sec, f/2.8


Full sun action: Canon EOS 1D X, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II @ 135mm, ISO 250, 1/4000 sec, f/2.8


Cloudy day action: Canon EOS 1D X, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II @ 155mm, ISO 500, 1/1600 sec, f/2.8

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