Exploring motion photography with your compact camera

Compact camera tutorial

Capturing motion in photos requires you to make a choice between freezing the action OR allowing creative blur to show the idea of movement in your photos. The direction you take depends on what you want your photo to say to your viewers. Capturing the emotion on a tennis player’s face in a frozen moment will convey a different message to a shot which shows blurred.

Using Scene modes to capture movement

Most IXUS and PowerShot cameras have scene modes which can really help to capture movement. Selecting a scene mode such as Sports or Kids and Pets optimises the camera for capturing action.

Motion-Bike-Track

© Sławomir Małecki - Creative commons licence – attribution, no derivative works

Some advanced PowerShot cameras have shutter priority mode (Tv) that lets you set the shutter speed directly. Just setting the mode to Tv gives control of the shutter speed, but you could also consider the burst shooting and focus settings too.

Using scene modes

Using scene modes is a simple way to set the camera for action. Sports mode (and Kids and Pets mode if your camera has it) tell the camera to use faster shutter speeds, the most appropriate focus, and often activate the burst mode to allow multiple images to be captured while the shutter is pressed.

Remember - children and small animals move fast!

Whenever you see small children and dogs running in your local park you’ll notice they move quickly, and often in erratic directions. Change of direction and speed is common, so photographing small children and dogs can be challenging.

Motion-Underwater

Neville Wootton, 054 – Anenomefish & Divers - Creative commons licence – attribution, no derivative works

If you have the Kids and Pets mode on your camera, it’s ideal in these situations as it uses multiple focus frames to ensure focus is sharp on the subject. This mode is even more effective if the subjects are at least three meters from the camera.

At this distance it is simpler for the camera to achieve and keep the focus on the subject. If your subject gets really close to the camera it is much harder to keep the focus locked on. If you don’t have Kids and Pets mode then remember to switch your camera to continuous shooting and Servo AF mode to ensure crisp autofocus.

Freeze the action

The Sports mode is ideal to use with PowerShot cameras that have a big zoom lens. The Sports mode sets faster shutter speeds, sets the focus mode to track moving subjects and sets continuous shooting mode. The combination of these three choices will help you to take better shots that freeze the action.

Motion-Jumping

Mohanraj - Skydivingt - Creative commons licence – attribution, no derivative works

The Image Stabilizer function will help to deliver sharp results by reducing camera shake that is a natural characteristic of long zoom lenses. When shooting with the lens at or near maximum zoom try to hold the camera securely with two hands for a better result.

Big sports stadiums or concerts – turn off the flash

If you take your camera to a large sports stadium, make sure you switch off the flash or choose the flash-off mode. The built-in flash is designed for subjects relatively close to the camera, typically up to five meters away. If you use flash at stadiums most of the picture will comprise flash lit subjects in the seats in front of you.

If you’ve felt inspired to capture life in motion, why not share your images with the world. Upload them to The Gallery.

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