12 Tips on How to Take Action Shots
Disneyland is a place of excitement, energy, and a ton of opportunities for amazing photos! Most of the time in the parks, you are constantly on the move (especially when you’re there with kiddos!). Even photos with character cast members can be considered an “action shot” when you’ve got a 3 year old who is unbelievably excited to meet her heroine and is incapable of standing still! And who doesn’t want an awesome mid-ride screaming-for-joy photo, or awesome shots of the incredible parades? So how do you capture those action shots?
2 EXTRA BONUS TIPS!!!!! —> First and foremost – please, please, PLEASE do not sacrifice precious moments with your family/friends in order to be the official photographer of the day. Yes, capturing sweet moments is important, but is absolutely not worth it if you don’t get to experience it as well. If photographing every moment means that you aren’t making memories with your family, then please set the camera down. Second – you need to be in the photos, too! Even if that means you need to stick your camera on “auto” and hand it over to someone else. Do it! You need to be in front of the camera at least a few times on your trip!
Ok, down to the nitty gritty – how do I get those sweet action shots? How do I freeze those fleeting moments? Although there are several ways to get a proper exposure and stop motion with action, hopefully trying these techniques will help you get some beautiful photos on your next Disney vacation!
1. Increase ISO – Don’t be afraid to push the ISO. Grain is not your enemy – blurry photos are! Grain can be undesirable, but if your exposure is correct, it should be pretty minimal. Oftentimes at night during our last trip to Disney, my ISO was often above 1000, because I needed my shutter speed to be higher.
2. FAST shutter speed – Yup, seems obvious to state, but it’s hugely important. Make sure that your shutter speed is peppy (not necessarily the right word to use, but I like it)! The bare-minimum, basement lowest shutter speed I will ever use for action shots (when all of the conditions are great) is 1/500 of a second, which is often STILL not fast enough for most action shots.
3. F-stop – Use a wide aperture (lowest number possible), if your lens will allow! The wider you’re able to go, the easier it will be to achieve those fast shutter speeds. If you’re paranoid about getting shots in focus with a more shallow plane of focus, then up a stop or two.
4. Flash – If you’ve got a great flash, use it! Your flash can help you stop motion and capture those split second, once-in-a-lifetime photos.
5. Patience – Anticipate moments that will happen. Sometimes you have to wait for the perfect shot, and then the moment is fleeting – find your spot, take a few practice shots so that you know your settings are right, and carefully watch for your moment.
6. Stabilize – Camera shake happens to the best of us! Cut down on that by supporting your camera/arm with something solid, whether it be a tripod (which can be kind of ridiculous to bring to Disney, let’s be real) or whatever you have available. My personal favorites are light posts and trashcans, which are both everywhere in the parks!
7. Focus points – Use your focus points to your advantage! Choose a focus point, compose your shot, and wait patiently for the right moment! Also, change your focusing mode to Al Servo (AF-C) so that your camera continuously focuses on your subject.
8. Burst mode – If you need to, switch to burst mode on your camera. Burst mode allows you to rapidly take several shots in a row, which can help you capture the perfect moment.
9. Cast members – Every once in a while cast members will allow you to come through an exit to get a shot, or can show you the perfect vantage point so that you can stand away from the crowds when shooting. Just be extra polite and smile big when you ask!
10. Finally, don’t stress – You’ll do fine! And in the end, it’s about the memories made. So don’t stress, do your best, and enjoy the magic!!