Perfect Action Shots are actually quite hard to photograph. Action shots are of moving subjects, and unfortunately most cameras aren't that good at taking photos when the subject is moving. You'll often get a blurry image (called motion blur) because the subject has moved in the frame while the shutter is open.
There are some tricks to help you freeze the action (and remove motion blur), but still give the illusion of movement.
Increase Shutter Speed
Blurry images happen because the subject (or the camera) moves while the camera's shutter is open.
With a fast moving subject (like a race car, or a child on a swing), a solution is to use a faster shutter speed. Your subject won't move as much while the shutter is open resulting in crisper images with no motion blur. If your camera has a 'Shutter Priority' mode, choose that and increase the shutter speed to at least 1/200 sec - or even more if your subject is moving fast. Try a few test shots and keep increasing the shutter speed until your image is crisp.
In this photo, the camera was following the child resulting in a pleasing motion blur effect.
If you don't have a shutter priority mode, decrease the ISO setting. A lower ISO (like 50 or 100) will decrease the shutter speed automatically because you have effectively told the camera's sensors that there is lots of light around.
The problem with a very fast shutter speed is that you not only freeze the action, but you also freeze any illusion of movement. It can look like your subject is not moving at all - particularly race cars.
Follow The Subject
The solution is to follow your subject with the camera. Shoot only when they are in the right position (like closest to you). Because your camera will be following your subject while the shutter is open, the subject will be much sharper than the background. The background will be quite blurry as it will have moved relative to the camera during the same time. The result is a very pleasing motion blur that we all associate with moving objects.
Thanks for John Barratt for the use of his photo.
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