Action Photography Techniques and Gear [IP72]

As promised in the last episode, here I talk about the technical side of sports and action photography.  The techniques learned in this episode are especially applicable to people who want to shoot kids running around, sports, or wildlife photography.

What's in this Episode

  • How to freeze motion with flash
  • A real-life comparison of high speed sync flash vs. non-high speed sync
  • Studio strobes for action photography vs. speedlights
  • How to achieve tack sharp focus on moving objects
  • How to set up a remote camera for sports photography
  • Gel shifting tips

Resources Mentioned

10 thoughts on “Action Photography Techniques and Gear [IP72]”

  1. Hello,
    I enjoy listening to you pod casts on a regular basis. In this podcast you left me wondering about setting focus points.

    I have a Nikon D7100 and it has 51 focus points, and you mention that I should not be using the 9 focus point cluster and use single point focus for sports/action photography. The Nikon D4s and D810 also have 51 focus points. You mention you would use the 9 cluster on the D4s and D810 but not the D7100, other than the sensor size is there any other reason I should not use the 9 focus point cluster?

    I have used both single and 9 focus point focus for sports and I seem to do better with 9 focus points when shooting sports/action. Is there something I’m missing?

    Thanks for such a great Podcast.

    Blair Tingey

  2. Jim,

    About your comments regarding speedlites vs studio strobes, I agree in part: speedlite are easy to carry, setup, etc. I uses Two Yongnuo to complement my SB-800s. But are they really better than strobes? As with many things in life, it depends.

    If you have to move around a lot, they’re great. When you have a fixed setup where you need a lot of light and for a *lot* of pictures, it’s great not to have to worry about batteries. Strobes are great in that situation.

    I liked the Neweer strobes review (https://improvephotography.com/29752/cheaper-strobes-work/). I personally use two Godox 300 watt/seconds strobes: cheap, powerful, and reliable.

    Great podcast!

  3. I’ve been listening to the podcast for around a year now I guess. Always great information, and well presented, and your web site is just as useful. Thanks for providing great resources.
    I just listened to this podcast, and heard about the YN560-TX. I’ve jumped on line and ordered one to control the Y560III’s that I already have.

    Thanks again, Justin.

  4. Hi Jim,

    I have heard you cover the Yongnuo speedlights in a number of the episodes. I’ve used them before and think that they are great. I do own a set of the Yongnuo 603 II wireless triggers. But have you looked at, or tried, the Neewer TT850 speedlight? I bought one to augment my existing SB-600. I love the rechargeable Li-ion battery pack and fast recycle time. It puts out roughly three times the number of full power flashes as a comparable AA powered speedlight. There is also a complementary wireless trigger that facilitates remote manual power control. The only disappointment is no HSS, but you could use a separate HSS capable trigger and hand hold the Neewer trigger for remote power control. I just wanted to share, since I think the Neewer is another great, inexpensive option.

    Dave

  5. Richard Martinez

    Hello, great podcast. The guidance I’ve always received is not to use flash for sports photography. The risk is blinding the athlete (not permanent blindness, but temporary sight lost because of the flash). Your thoughts?

  6. Hi Jim
    Always enjoyed your podcast. Been listening since dec 2012.
    Have a small question from ep72 Aug 2014

    Here in New Zealand I work a lot in action photography, primarily V8 jetsprints but also Motorcycle road racing. We have both day and night meetings but there is no way I would start firing flash units because of the inherent safety issues involved for the competitor. I’m just wandering why on earth you would be promoting the idea of firing flash units onto racers. We are there to record what happens with the least disruption or distraction to the competitor. Appreciate your thoughts.
    Cheers
    Neil

    1. @Neil – This was not a race that we were shooting. The athletes were paid to be there for the shoot and knew when the flash would be firing.

  7. Hey Jim! One of the reasons I love listening to this podcast is that you’ll do the searching and find some really cool gadgets or resources that’ll make my life easier! In this case, for this podcast it was the Yongnuo 560 TXs. AH! I’ve been looking for something like that for a long time. I worked with another photog who was using pocketwizards and I wanted to do the same, but didn’t have the budget. I’ll be ordering those as well as some 560 IIIs as well. I also wanted to comment on the multi flash set up you described. I’ve been using a 3 head flash on a pole setup for quite some time now and love it! I’ve named it the Staff of Ra (Indiana Jones) and it works great! Thanks!

  8. Hi Jim – just came across your podcast and it’s awesome. Being only a month deep into photography, I am learning by the minute. I am curious to see your shots from the MX shoot, but seems like the link is broken. Do you have an alternative link? thanks!

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