This image grabs lots of attention, but also happens to have been a simple image to make. Stopping or freezing the action in a photo just takes enough light, ISO and shutter speed. I set my camera to shoot wide open at 1/1000th of a second to make this photo.

Most of my students think that the shot was luck. But it was actually just common sense and preparation. All animals are just like us in that they need air. Once this bear went underwater, it was only a matter of time before he came up. So I watched him go down, and pointed my camera where I last saw him and waited. Sure enough, he came up and started shaking the water off his head like my dog used to. That’s when I pressed the shutter.

Remember, to stop or freeze action, just use a fast shutter speed and set your camera to Shutter Priority.

Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. Nice capture Scott!! You can see the twisting patterns in the water droplets! Looks like you found some bears in Alaska! Cheers, John

  2. Nice capture Scott!! You can see the twisting patterns in the water droplets! Looks like you found some bears in Alaska! Cheers, John

  3. Great capture indeed. Funny you mention it’s how your dog at home used to. I guess great photography is just like real estate: location, location, location

    That and if you have deep enough pockets to get to the out of the way locations, it doesn’t take much once you get there to get a great shot, just some common sense, and understanding of animal behavior habits.

    For those interested in the more domesticated version, here’s a grab I took just a month or so ago:

  4. Great capture indeed. Funny you mention it’s how your dog at home used to. I guess great photography is just like real estate: location, location, location

    That and if you have deep enough pockets to get to the out of the way locations, it doesn’t take much once you get there to get a great shot, just some common sense, and understanding of animal behavior habits.

    For those interested in the more domesticated version, here’s a grab I took just a month or so ago:

  5. The way scott says “that’s when I pressed” the shutter — it SOUNDS like he’s doing what I always do with action shots: Ignore my motor drive. In an age with even the cheapest SLRs shooting 3 fps, sometimes that’s hard to do. But if you wait for the right moment and just snap once, you can get one great shot instead of 3 good ones.

  6. The way scott says “that’s when I pressed” the shutter — it SOUNDS like he’s doing what I always do with action shots: Ignore my motor drive. In an age with even the cheapest SLRs shooting 3 fps, sometimes that’s hard to do. But if you wait for the right moment and just snap once, you can get one great shot instead of 3 good ones.

  7. Josh – That’s a great approach, except after you catch that one perfect frame, might as well hold down the motor drive for three more. You might get lucky on those as well. For instance, when shooting softball, I find that almost always THE shot of a series is the first one. Ball in the air, destination apparent, look of determination, etc. But, at the same time, often the remainder of the series adds to the first shot.

    Absolutely, though: work on the timing of that first shot. It’s the only way you can turn a 1/10 chance of catching the moment into a 50% or greater chance.

  8. Josh – That’s a great approach, except after you catch that one perfect frame, might as well hold down the motor drive for three more. You might get lucky on those as well. For instance, when shooting softball, I find that almost always THE shot of a series is the first one. Ball in the air, destination apparent, look of determination, etc. But, at the same time, often the remainder of the series adds to the first shot.

    Absolutely, though: work on the timing of that first shot. It’s the only way you can turn a 1/10 chance of catching the moment into a 50% or greater chance.

  9. Can’t a similar effect be accomplished by using a flash to stop the action?

    Great photo and timing on the shot, Scott. Since bears can outrun most race horses, I hope you were quite some distance away.

  10. Can’t a similar effect be accomplished by using a flash to stop the action?

    Great photo and timing on the shot, Scott. Since bears can outrun most race horses, I hope you were quite some distance away.

  11. @Chuck there are lots of ways to stop the action. Please note the title: “The Basics.”

  12. @Chuck there are lots of ways to stop the action. Please note the title: “The Basics.”

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