Action Sequence Photography Tips

Shooting still action sequences is a unique and interesting way to show motion in sports photography. A sequence shot will show the athlete in action, capturing their path and letting the viewer understand the motion and athleticism that the sport requires. In this new video by Red Bull Illume, we join professional photographer Leo Rosas Morin on location in Absolut Park in Flachauwinkl, Austria, as he photographs snowboarders in action:

There are two ways of capturing great action sequences—either using a tripod and framing one shot where all the action happens, or panning and shooting vertically as you follow the action, then stitching together a panorama in post.

On this particular day in Austria, Morin meets up with snowboarders Adrian Krainer, Seppl Ramsbacher and Clemens Millauer and gets some fast-paced, epic shots of the athletes. Using his Sony RX10ii, Morin captures the action at a stunning 14 frames per second.

Action Sequence Photography Tips

Want to give it a try yourself? Here are 12 tips from Morin to capture great action sequence shots:

1. Visualize what the sequence is going to look like. Find an angle that gives you a clear view of the different frames without it getting too cluttered.

2. Shoot in Manual mode. This not only gives you better control of the light in general, but also allows you to use fast enough shutter speeds to freeze your subject and avoid motion blur when shooting handheld.

reduce motion blur photo

3. Use a fast camera. Again, Moring uses the Sony RX10ii, which allows him to capture as many frames as possible in the shortest time. Using a fast camera helps you to select the best timed frames and gives you more options.

4. Consider panning while shooting. Panning will help you:

  • Increase resolution of your final image as you will combine several frames.
  • Secure enough space to align and compose your final image. It also allows you to keep the subject central in your single frames and avoids distortion.
  • Get closer to the action and still be able to cover the whole sequence.

panning while shooting photo

5. Shoot in Raw. Unless you plan to shoot an extensive sequence where the camera might perform better in JPG compression.

6. Back up your images. Remember you’re working with bigger file sizes, so as soon as you get to a computer, back them up.

7. Open the images and make your basic corrections to all the selected images if you shot in Raw.

8. Use Layers. Open them all as layers in Photoshop.

9. Use the “Auto-Align Layers” function.

10. Crop to final format. Check and adjust and crop to your final format if necessary.

action sports photography framing

Sports Sequence

11. Decide which frames to keep. Analyse and judge which frames are the best to keep and which ones you don’t need. You don’t want cluttered sequences—they are not easy to understand and might not look as good.

12. Save PSD file. Save your open PSD file to keep when you’re done.

action sequence panning gif

A few things to remember when shooting:

  • You can pan and shoot vertically for horizontal sequences.
  • Only use the frames you need for a clean final image.
  • Keep important elements like shadows and snow spray.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever