To achieve the well-exposed photos on subjects that are moving may be very challenging and you will need to have certain technical knowledge. Below, I’d like to list some practical tips for obtaining great results on action photos:
The autofocus mode should be adjusted. To have sharp images of moving subjects, the autofocus mode should be switched to continuous mode (commonly, you’ll see AF-C with Nikons and AI Servo with Canons). When you select this mode, the camera focus will be constantly adjusted to track the moving subject. Continuous mode is also known as a predictive mode, because the focus will be changed based on the prediction of the subject moving direction after the split-second delay to wait for the mirror to be raised and the shutter to be opened in your camera.
You should know when to use manual focus. In certain sports, it is not so difficult to know the place that a player will come into (for example, in football, the goalkeeper will always stay in the front of the goal). In case a object is moving very quickly (the ball, for instance), the autofocus of the camera may get confused as well as struggle to track that moving object. In this situation, it is recommended that you should have a focusing point preset (the goal or the goalkeeper) and using the manual focus become easier for shooting photos faster.
Use your AF points. You should activate multiple autofocus points when you are capturing images using the continuous autofocus mode. By doing so, the camera can select its own focusing points. But, for the manual focus, a single autofocus point will be better to achieve more precise images.
The shutter speed should be set higher. To capture pin-sharp images, the shutter speed needs to be fast. I often use the shutter speed that is higher than 1/500. For several certain sports, the speed needs to be at least 1/1000. When shooting fast moving subjects, you should use the TV / S mode as the shutter speed is prioritized and other settings will be automatically applied based on the shutter speed.
The depth of field should be small. You will have greater action photos if just the main subject is highlighted while the background is blurred. This technique helps you have a better feeling about the moving speed of the subject. You can adjust the aperture setting to lower down the depth of field.
The fill-in flash should be used. The camera pop-up flash can be very useful for shooting action photos. Firstly, the subject can be illuminated and you’ll have a wider range of apertures to select. Secondly, you’ll find a “flash and blur” technique when using the flash. In this technique, with the selection of a slow shutter speed you easily find the flash fired manually when you start to shoot the photos. The subject will be frozen, while creating blurred streaks in the background.
The ISO can be set higher. If you have configured other settings and still don’t have enough light for the image sensor at last, you can consider setting the higher ISO. But keep in mind that the higher the ISO setting, the greater the noise you will find in your photo.