Nat Geo Assignment: Capturing Action

Nat Geo Assignment: Capturing Action - Kristian Bertel
Indian woman in street submitted to ‘Capturing Action’ on National Geographic.


See the National Geographic photo assignments that Kristian Bertel has participated in – Read the story about his photographs here…

Kristian Bertel has contributed to the National Geographic Your Shot photo community with an assignment called ‘Capturing Action‘. For this photo assignment curated by Stephen Alvarez a National Geographic photographer wants us to capture action. Capture the people, animals or objects around us with our DSLR. The best camera is the one we have in our hand. Editing is often the hardest part of an assignment. Stepping back and looking at all of our top frames together really helps to compare and, in the end, select the best shot to submit.

We should not be afraid to ask friends or strangers what they think. So much of the photographer’s ego and emotion is tied up in getting the shot. Just because we spent ten hours hanging upside down to get that one photograph does not necessarily mean it is a great image. It can be hard to separate our experiences, and that is when having another set of eyes is essential. Stephen Alvarez is also excited to see that many of us are playing with perspective. By using levels beyond just eye level, we create layers in our frame and we often create more drama and tension.

Action in photography
Action can be all sorts of things. Sports come to mind, of course, but National Geographic wants us to think about action in the sense of a decisive moment. One moment, one instance, one frame that pulls everything together. We can capture our action shots using high shutter speeds to freeze the moment, but we can also pan the camera with a moving subject. Sometimes the blur of panning gives a better sense of energy than a frozen image. Action can be difficult to capture and it could be best to set our cameras on the highest continuous setting it has and shoot photo burst. Then we can pick the right frame later. This assignment is wide open in terms of subject matter and action is the perfect moment in everyday life.

As Stephen is saying it: ”- I am still learning that patience is a virtue. So I urge you to slow down and wait. Something will happen, and you’ll want to be ready. As slow as it feels to wait, action happens fast. When you starting shooting, don’t look down at your viewer to see what you have. When your head is down, you may be missing the jackpot of all shots. You either got it or you didn’t, looking at the photo after you’ve taken it won’t change that. With practice, capturing action will become instinctive. Action is all around us”, he says.

About the submitted photograph and camera techniques
The photographer chose to submit a photograph of an Indian woman sitting in a busy street in Mumbai, India.


”Action in photography can be to capture an Indian dog running, a Mumbai train barreling down the tracks or palm trees that are blowing in the wind on a coast in India. Each of these Indian scenes can come alive within our photographs if we learn how to convey motion properly”


The direction we take depends upon our objective for our photograph. A lot of photographers capture motion simply to convey that an object is moving. But, there are other reasons to so, the photographer explains: ”- The shutter speed that I use while photographing a scene in India plays a main role in capturing motion in my images. The faster the shutter speed, the sharper the focus on my subject. On the other hand, a slower shutter speed will blur a moving object like in the photograph of the Indian woman above, where cars are moving by in front of her. This second technique keeps my photograph’s subject in sharp focus while the background, or in this example the foreground, is blurred. Using the Indian train example, the train would be in focus and the wall of trees would be blurred thereby conveying the train’s movement”, he says.

Similar to the first method, photographers need to use a slow shutter speed. However, instead of using a tripod, photographers will be panning their camera along the directional path of their subject. ”- As a photographer I can use different shutter speeds and panning to capture motion in my photography. Sometimes, there is a need to blur certain elements in the image while focusing sharply on a few subjects in the foreground. Other times, I want to freeze or blur everything. I have been practicing street photography and have learned myself the value of waiting. In India I can line up the shot, frame the best composition possible and then wait for that one person to walk through to get that perfect expression or glance”, the photographer Kristian Bertel says.


    You might also like:

Assignments and Stories — National Geographic Your Shot »
Nat Geo Assignment: Built to Walk »
Your Shot Photo Community — National Geographic »
Kristian Bertel’s entire gallery on Your Shot »
Showcase of Kristian Bertel’s Your Shot »
Kristian Bertel’s website »


    Tags:   #india   #travel   #portraits