Shooting Action ( Composing)


Hello again, Thank you for stopping back to Buzword. In the last three post we have talked about Aperture Priority Mode, ISO, and Panning your action shots.

I hope that these post have helped you with your shooting, and has helped you understand how your camera works. This time we are going to go over composition. A lot of us think we need to put our subject in the middle of the frame, this is true some times. Lets face it everybody does that, but we want our images to to stand out from others that are shooting the same subject.
I will admit that this is not easy, because cameras now days are great, and can help anybody get a great shot.

Ok lets get started when Im shooting Motorcycle racing, I try to get the rider as they just come into the frame. this way if I’m a bit late I will still capture them within the frame.

elmira ice race 1-17-14-7224

In this image above I locked my focus on as Tuff McBride entered the corner and tracked him until he reached me coming out of the corner. I was focused on his eyes, but if you notice I cut off part of his front tire. Try to look around in your view finder before you squeeze the shutter.

If you give yourself some wiggle room you can always crop in post to get a tighter shot. Remember if you crop to much you will loose some image quality. So try to get it close when you shoot it.

There is a well known rule in photography and it is called the rule of thirds. This means when you are composing a shot try to put your subject towards the top, bottom, or each side. This will give your picture some character, instead of the boring center shot.


If you look at the R/C car above I put the car in the top right hand corner to help show the height of the car. Plus I like to give some room in front of the subject to help make it look like it’s moving forward. Check out these two photos. I cropped one with room in front and the other with more room in back. The image with room in front looks better to the eye. The other one makes it look like she is running up against a wall. If you miss it don’t worry you can crop it some in post.



So know that we have seen how placing your subject in the frame can change the look of your photo, now we can get a little crazy with our shooting. Another thing that a lot of people do is shoot standing up. This might be good for some shots around the house, but moving your camera higher or lower will add some drama to you image. If you are shooting a High school sporting event
get low, sit on the ground and shoot up at the action. Your shots will look different from the other people on the side lines that are standing while shooting the game.



Now these two shots above, I shot one standing up at eye level, and the other sitting on the ground shooting up at the player. No I think both look good, but I like the looks of the second one because it gives the players a stronger look from the low angle.

You can also get up higher than the players, or just change your location on the field to get a different look. I shoot a lot of my racing shots from the infield because that is the way I did it when I started shooting film. Now I have noticed that people like the different angles that I get like shooting from the outside of the track, or shooting in the pit area between races.



Both of these shots I was down on my knee, but one I shot from outside of turns one and two. The other one I shot as the rider entered turn one. This is the shot that is used a lot in motor sports. After awhile these shots get boring and look just like every other picture out there. So get low or get up above the action to grab a shot that looks different from the rest.

One last things that we should remember when we are shooting action. Look at the background in your shot. I have made this mistake way to many times in my career. Make sure you position your self ( if you can) where the back ground doesn’t have anything in it that might take away from your subject. If you are shooting a event where there are bleachers that are full of fans, try to use that as a background in you shots. If there is anything that is distracting in the back ground try to move to where they are out of the shot.

Another way to get rid of the busy background is to open up your aperture. Remember this will allow more light into your camera and it will decrease your depth of field (blur the back ground).



It seems like there are a ton of things to remember before you can even press the shutter button, but if you get out there and use these tools after awhile, it will become second nature to you. I still catch my self not using these tools all the time, and I have to slow down and go through my check list as I am setting up a shot.

Don’t get discouraged just go step by step and it will all come together for you. I would love to see some of your images that you have used these tools to get the shot. Send me some shots to, and if you have any questions please leave a comment and I will get back to you soon.

Please subscribe to this blog and go to to see all of my action shots at

Next time on Shooting Action we will talk about some different lenses that might work best for what you are shooting.

Take Care and Just Shoot



2 thoughts on “Shooting Action ( Composing)

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