So You Want an Action Photo of Your Riding?
Whether for the good old social media game or, just so you have some pictures for posterity. Problem is, you don’t have someone to hold the camera. So, how do you up your selfie game to get good quality action shots?
Well I’ve used three tricks to get these kind of shots before, they all have pros and cons.
- Video Still
- Timelapse – Action Camera
- Timelapse – SLR & Intervalometer
The simplest is pulling a video still, for this the better the original video clip the better, however a smartphone or action camera can also work well. You have at least 25 stills (if not more) every second to choose from, so you are more or less guaranteed the shot. The problens are resolution and blur.
A full hd video still has a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, so, if you are using it on social platforms then it will be fine, but it will be useless for print.
The second draw back is blur, video generally shots at a slower frame rate than you need to freeze fast motion. So unless you have full manual control or a very sunny day there will more than likely be some motion blur.
Action Camera Timelapse
The second approach I use is to use the same action camera, but set it in timelapse mode. For this you need a little bit of luck, some patience and a large memory card. The benefits of this method are the image is a higher resolution, so printing the image becomes an option, or, you can crop it to refine the composition. The image also is noticeably sharper than a pulled video still.
I use a small tripod or a small modified woodworking clamp to position the camera, then set it running at its shortest interval, which is usually 1 second. The drawbacks here are you will more frequently be in the wrong place when the shutter fires to get the shot.
So this works well if you are sessioning a feature anyway, and if you weren’t planning on sessioning, well now you are if your shooting timelapse to get your action shots.
Intervalometer (Pro timelapse)
So if you really want the best resolution and more crucially, RAW files to work with, then using an SLR and an intervalometer is the way to go. It has all the same pros and cons as shooting timelapse with an action camera, except the image quality is night and day.
You instanly gain full manual control of the exposure and focus and the resolution is usually higher. The sensor is also signiciantly larger, even on a crop sensor than an action camera and this is before you think about the glass up front. Basically, without getting too deep into it, its better. Trust me.
So What Else?
There are a few other things we can do to get the best out of our images by editing them in the post. Programs like Photoshop and Lightroom are the usualk suspects when it comes to image editting Classics include dropping to black and white and adding a little grain to create a more evocative image, this can work well with images that have a little blur.
We can also combine images to create a series of stills in a single image, this is called photomerging. I wont go into the how-to here, but they can be quite eye catching images.