Heather is doing soccer again this year on Saturday mornings. This week was her first week and it was hot. Soccer starts at 10:50am and it was already over 90 degrees and climbing. But she stayed hydrated and I used the time to work on my action photography skills.
It's interesting how a small change in camera settings can result in a dramatic change in image presentation.
I started with the shutter set to 1/100th of a second, which captured images like this:
The scene is representative, and fairly sharp. You can see some motion in her hands and feet, but overall it is a static image.
Stretching the shutter to 1/25th of a second gives you a totally different result:
She's clearly moving, the background distractions are reduced via the motion blur and she becomes the uncontested focus of attention. It's a much more interesting, dynamic image.
You can try using a wider aperture to reduce your depth of field to achieve similar separation between subject and background (which I've tried in the past), but that's tough in full sunlight. You'll need filters to stop down the light and then capturing the subject in focus becomes difficult as your depth of field shrinks.
The trick here is to pan the camera with the subject throughout the shutter release. It takes practice, but the results are worth it--which is why I've been practicing it.
Here's a couple more shots that came out decently. In the first one, Heather is jumping over the pile of balls. And in the second she is dribbling across the field.