Tracking Fast Moving Subjects

This past summer, I acquired a Nikon D300 DSLR to use for action photography. Using the new autofocus system built into this camera, my percentage of sharp and in focus images of fast moving subjects has drastically increased.

As most of you know, I spend a lot of time shooting nature and wildlife. Last week, I traveled to Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in NJ to photograph waterfowl and wading birds. As usual when visiting this refuge, I came home with some very nice wildlife portraits using my 500mm lens. In addition to the 500mm, I worked with my 70-200 2.8 AFS VR lens to capture some action shots.

The D300 with the 70-200mm AFS VR (with and without the TC14E 1.4 converter attached) is a killer combination for action photography. With the 1.5 crop factor applied, the 70-200 2.8 becomes a 100-300 2.8 (150 – 450mm f4 with the 1.4).

In order to capture action shots, I set my camera to the continuous focusing mode and select the 51 point autofocusing option. In my experience, the 51 point option works best for action photography of birds and waterfowl. My technique is to allow the camera’s AF system to lock onto a target while the subject is some distance away and select the left AF point placing it on the subject’s head. This technique assures good composition and allows the camera to track the target accurately.

Don’t expect to produce tack sharp and in focus images of fast moving subjects 100% of the time even with the latest technology. It takes a lot of practice and experience using these systems before you can ever get anywhere close to this number.

A few of the images I made on this trip are presented below:

Night Heron in Flight

Snowy Egret in Flight

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One Response to “Tracking Fast Moving Subjects”

  1. Hank Says:

    Hi Adam. It was nice talking to you,and thank you for helping me with picking right tripod for my pentax k200d .I’ll be in the store soon to buy ,Bogen 725b.. Thank you and see you in the store. Henry K.

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