Ac­tion sta­tions!

David Eales has re­ally mas­tered shoot­ing fast-mov­ing sub­jects

NPhoto - - Over To You… -

I have been a reader of N-Photo for a long time now. I started to read it about the same time as I took up pho­tog­ra­phy. To give me a good start, I thought that do­ing an A-level in pho­tog­ra­phy would put me on the right course, but I came away quite dis­sat­is­fied. I have been on work­shops where the pro would sat­u­rate the course with far too many peo­ple, so as a con­se­quence no one got any in­put. I feel now that I am get­ting bet­ter – I’m not read­ing so much from mags and just go out and give it a go.

When I re­tired, I said to my­self that I would buy the best cam­era that I could af­ford at the time. Over the last few years I have up­graded grad­u­ally to what I have now. I started with a Nikon D700, then moved on to the Nikon D3s, and I have now moved on to the Nikon D4s; all these cam­eras are great, but the D4s has the edge in terms of res­o­lu­tion and frame rate.

I have moved around a bit on lenses. The lenses I like are my 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 16-35mm f/4 and 500mm f/4, plus a 1.4x tele­con­verter. I have a Man­frotto mono­pod, a Man­frotto tri­pod with a geared head, and a car­bon-fi­bre tri­pod with a gim­bal head. As far as fil­ters go, I’ve got a few grad­u­ated fil­ters and a big stop­per ND fil­ter for when I shoot land­scapes.


You’ve al­ready mas­tered two of the most dif­fi­cult as­pects of pho­tograph­ing mov­ing sub­jects, David: get­ting the sub­ject sharp, and shoot­ing them against a dis­trac­tion­free back­ground. Clearly you’ve got the right kit for what you want to pho­to­graph (we’d pick that 70200mm f/2.8 our­selves), and you re­ally know how to use it. Shoot­ing mo­tor­cy­cles tilt­ing and BMXs in midair help con­vey the ac­tion in your im­ages of ve­hi­cles.

Your photos show that your cam­era is very steady when you take your shots, so a good step to take next would be to try in­tro­duc­ing some pan­ning blur to give an ex­tra sense of speed. You’re good at an­tic­i­pat­ing where a mov­ing sub­ject will be, so you will prob­a­bly find you’re a nat­u­ral at it! Use a fairly high shut­ter speed to start with, to give your­self a chance to get your eye in, and lower the speed as you progress, to the point where it’s as low as it can go while still keep­ing the sub­ject sharp. Your gim­bal head will be in­valu­able for pan­ning shots, and it would be best to start with rac­ing ve­hi­cles as they’ll fol­low a fairly pre­dictable line – the birds will do what­ever they like!

You could also try cap­tur­ing other as­pects of bird be­hav­iour. Pho­tograph­ing birds of prey as they dive for a kill (see page 50) or cap­tur­ing seabirds just as they plunge into the wa­ter would be the next step on from your flight shots, and that would present a real chal­lenge while still stay­ing with a theme you love.

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