Photographing Fast Action: National Geographic Photography


Life moves pretty fast. We don’t have a pause or a rewind button, and we certainly can’t ask the racing world around us to slow down just so we can capture that perfect moment with our camera. But as photographers, at least we can learn the tricks for photographing fast action subjects.

Sadly, there’s no formula for capturing exactly the right action shot, but there are tricks the professionals use to prepare for the moment – even when it is unexpected. In this video, National Geographic Photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins provides some insights to help you get prepared, know your camera, and always be in the moment, as well as practical tricks such as setting your shutter speed to 1/2000.

This helpful tip is just one technique found in the course National Geographic Polar Expeditions, available now to stream on The Great Courses Plus.

Polar Explorations image for the article Photographing Fast Action: National Geographic PhotographyNow, Polar Explorations, a one-of-a-kind educational journey created in collaboration with National Geographic, provides you a 360-degree view of the Arctic and Antarctica in 22 visually stunning lectures plus bonus video: Unforgettable Moments from National Geographic’s Polar Trips.

A travelogue, science class, and history lesson rolled into one comprehensive course, Polar Explorations provides you with the context necessary to fully appreciate the splendor of the poles, including insights into:

  • geology,
  • astronomy,
  • zoology,
  • oceanography,
  • history,
  • culture, and
  • photographing unique subjects.

A Photographer’s Dream Come to Life

For those who plan to visit the polar regions, learning how to take compelling photographs in these unusual environments will aid in capturing memories of the abundant wildlife and stunning panoramas. For this reason, the course concludes with a pair of lessons on polar photography presented by Ralph Lee Hopkins, the founder and director of the onboard photography program for the National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions fleet. These lectures provide special insight into the unique opportunities and unexpected trials of photography at the ends of the earth.

Hopkins, who has two decades of Antarctic and Arctic experience, addresses not only the basics of preparation and gear, but also offers advice on overcoming the creative challenges of shooting at the poles, such as white-on-white vistas and animals in action. With these expert tips and tricks added to your repertoire, you’ll find yourself better prepared to take stunning photographs that capture the true majesty of these frozen worlds.

Sign up for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus and stream National Geographic Polar Expeditions today!

Watch more National Geographic photography tips:
Picking A Subject for Your Photos
How to Use Light in your Composition
Telling a Story with a Picture