How to Photograph Your Kid’s Sports Without Motion Blur

By day I’m the CEO of Corel, a desktop software company that sells Photo, Video, Graphics, Productivity, and Utility software to millions of consumers and small businesses around the globe. By night, like many of you, I’m an amateur photographer trying to shoot my teenage boys’ sporting events. Over the past decade, I have learned a number of tips and tricks that have increased my keeper rate. However, none of those tips are more important than learning how to eliminate motion blur.

Motion blur is by far the number one problem that amateur photographers have when photographing their kid’s sports. The good news is that motion blur occurs due to a particular reason – the shutter speed of the camera is too slow. The bad news is that increasing the shutter speed of the camera is a lot easier to say than it is to do. You need the right kind of camera, set to the right mode, with a lens that is long enough and big enough to catch the action.


Use a multi-mode camera like a DSLR to shoot sports

There are two types of cameras in the world, those that operate only in automatic mode and those that have multiple mode settings. Cameras that operate exclusively in automatic mode include most mobile phone cameras and many point-and-shoot cameras. Multi-mode cameras are generally DSLRs, higher end point-and-shoot cameras, and very specialized camera phones like the Samsung camera phone. If you have a multi-mode camera, you will be able to change the camera mode from automatic (usually specified as a green ‘A’) to time value mode (usually specified as ‘TV’). Given their flexibility, multi-mode cameras generally cost more than automatic mode cameras.


Choose a shutter speed that is fast enough to handle the action

Once your camera has been set to TV mode, you will be able to adjust the shutter speed. Shutter speed is generally specified as a certain percentage of a second. For example, a shutter speed of 30 means 1/30th of a second. Most sports move much faster than that though and so as a general rule I tend to use the following shutter speeds for my children’s sports:

Golf/Tennis/Gymnastics 1/500th of a second or 500 on the display
Swimming/Water Polo/Baseball/Softball 1/640th of a second or 640 on the display
Soccer/Football/Basketball 1/800th of a second or 800 on the display
Cross Country/Track 1/1000th of a second or 1000 on the display
Cycling 1/1250th of a second or 1250 on the display

You will need a lens that is long enough to catch the action

In order to capture sports at the fast shutter speeds discussed above, you need a lens that is LONG enough to catch the action. Most cameras that can be set to TV mode either come with a zoom lens or allow for interchangeable lenses. In order for a lens to be long enough, it should have a focal length of more than 100 millimeters (stated on the lens as 100 mm). I typically find that 200 mm is the best focal length, as this allows me to pull in the action from around 50 feet away.

However, in situations where you might be even further away than that, you may need to go to 300 mm or even 400 mm. For example, shooting the hitter at home plate from center field or shooting a running back at midfield from the end zone will generally require a 400 mm focal length. Given their reach, longer lenses generally cost more than shorter lenses.


You will need a lens with an aperture that is big enough to catch the action

In order to capture sports at the fast shutter speeds discussed above, you also need a lens that is big enough to catch the action. What I mean by this is that the aperture of the lens needs to be able to take in a lot of light in order to support the fast shutter speed. This is reflected in the form of an F-stop that is usually printed on the lens and is expressed as a number such as f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, or f/8. Lower numbers mean larger apertures that can take in more light. Each f-stop takes in twice as much light as the f-stop that follows it. So, f/2.8 takes in twice as much light as f/4, four times as much light as f/5.6 and eight times as much light as f/8.

Generally I find that for most sports pictures taken outside during the day, f/4 or even f/5.6 are generally big enough apertures to handle the faster shutter speeds. However, for sports pictures taken outside at night (Friday night football) or in a gym (basketball or gymnastics), f/2.8 is generally required. It’s important to note that aperture size is the most expensive part of a lens so larger aperture lens that can shoot at f2.8 are quite a bit more expensive than medium aperture lens such as f4 or f5.6.

Not enough? Learn to adjust ISO

You’re probably thinking that after all these tips you should be able to photograph your kids sports without motion blur. In general, the answer is yes. However, for situations where lighting is a problem such as Friday night lights or indoor sports, having a fast shutter speed (1/800th of a second) and a big aperture (f /2.8) may not be enough to successfully capture the action. You will find this out because the camera will no longer take a shot when you press the shutter button. So what do you do in this case?

Don’t turn on your flash. I often see parents turning on their flash to try to capture the action. As you can imagine, this is very distracting to the athletes and often the coach will  ask the parents to turn off their flash. More importantly, because most of the action occurs outside of the effective flash area,  a flash is generally not sufficient to capture the shot.

Do increase your ISO. ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor in your digital camera. It generally runs from 100 to 9600 on most cameras although some specialty cameras can go much higher. A lower number produces a higher quality image from the sensor while a higher number produces a lower quality image. In this case, lower quality means “noisy” which is characterized by a lot of graininess in the image. Modern cameras do a pretty good job at reducing the noise at that ISO level but I will still see some graininess in the darker areas of the image.

If your aperture can’t get any larger and your shutter speed can’t be any slower, your only remaining option is to increase your ISO until the camera can take pictures again. I find that for indoor sports with a shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second and an f/2.8 aperture setting I may need to push my ISO up to as high as 4800 to capture the action.

You will generally find an ISO button on your multi-mode camera that allows you to push up your ISO. Some cameras even allow you to have an Auto ISO setting that automatically increases the ISO once your shutter speed and max aperture are reached. If you are in the market for a camera, I definitely recommend auto ISO if you are a sports shooter.


In summary:

How to reduce motion blur when photographing kids’ sports

  1. Use a camera that can be put into time value (TV) mode.
  2. Set your shutter speed to at least 1/500th of a second or faster.
  3. Use a lens that has a long focus length so that you can reach the action (200mm or higher)
  4. Use a lens capable of aperture settings as wide as f/2.8 for poor lighting and higher for daylight.
  5. Adjust ISO to compensate in situations where shutter speed and aperture aren’t enough.


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Why Corel PDF Fusion Made

We are very pleased to share the news that Corel PDF Fusion is among the favorites at Here is what the staff at TopTenReviews had to say about the PDF conversion tool.

At TopTenReviews, grading PDF conversion software comes down to a simple combination of must-have attributes: a simple and user-friendly interface that enhances the overall experience, a team of experienced and knowledgeable staff that’s readily available to assist users at virtually any time, and a comprehensive list of features that’s comparable to the software’s price.



Let’s breakdown these elements to find out why Corel PDF Fusion made it on

A Full-Service Editing Juggernaut

100: That’s the number of possible file types that Corel PDF Fusion has the ability to open at a moment’s notice. This unprecedented ability allows users to combine a wide collection of different files into one document with great ease. You can immediately begin editing files you’ve opened within the program, which makes adding everything from sticky notes and changing security settings to adding hyperlinks a breeze. Combine this functionality with editing tools that are easy to locate and PDF Fusion becomes a technological force to be reckoned with.

Timely and Professional Customer Service

The support staff for PDF Fusion is always one step ahead of the curve by providing users access to resources within the application as well as online. For example, the content help tool provides specific functions and support topics that you can then bookmark and index to query at a later time if needed. Step-by-step tutorials and technical dictionaries are also accessible to help users gain a better understanding of everything that PDF Fusion has to offer.

Additional support and technical resources are available in the form of tool tips and tool labels. These can be found within the editing space and can be toggled on and off at any time based on your level of comfort and proficiency. Think of these as helpful, in-screen tutorials that guide you during the editing and production processes. In addition, as with most programs and applications, the “help” function is always there to provide on-the-spot advice and troubleshooting resources.

Corel’s support connects you to professional and knowledgeable representatives, Monday through Friday between 9 and 5 pm EDT. The support website offers a comprehensive FAQ section and forums that allow you to speak directly with like-minded users across all skill levels. Addition support is also available through Facebook and Twitter.

The prompt and courteous customer support team is great with answering many, if not all, of the questions you may have regarding PDF Fusion and are apt to respond to emails in a timely fashion. This allows you to get your issues solved quickly so that you can get back to work with whatever project you may be in the middle of.

At the end of the day, the most impressive things about PDF Fusion are its clean and modern design, seemingly endless features and the impressive collection of tools at your fingertips. Its overall simplicity and ease of use make the software a delight to use, and its multimedia functions allow you to flex your creative and production muscles without feeling overwhelmed with everything that Corel PDF Fusion can truly do. highly recommends Corel PDF Fusion for anyone who values logical design and advanced functionality at a price that’s easier on the wallet than some of the most popular PDF conversion applications out there.

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Photo Retouching in Corel PHOTO-PAINT X7

Beauty touch-ups are a popular form of digital retouching in portrait photography. The techniques usually involve reshaping on enhancing parts of an image as well as removing unwanted and distracting elements. Whether you are going for the glamorous magazine look, adding artistic effects to your photo or just looking to remove some blemishes, PHOTO-PAINT provides you with an array of tools to help you get the job done.

Today I am going to show you how to use the new Liquid tools (PHOTO-PAINT X7) and the new Healing Clone tool (available in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 Update 2).

These tools behave similarly to other brushes in PHOTO-PAINT. This means you use them by dragging them across your image like a brushstroke. As with any other brush tool, you can use them with a pressure sensitive tablet. You can also easily make the nib larger and smaller by dragging up and down while holding down SHIFT or using the nib radius slider on the property bar.

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Enter the Painter Mobile Contest Today!


As autumn approaches, we are really FALLing for art, and we want you to bring your visions to life with the Painter Mobile app. So, we are hosting the first ever Painter Mobile Contest!

You’ve got ideas, and you want to share them with the world. Now is your chance to do so. The Painter Mobile Contest is the perfect opportunity to showcase your artwork, and possibly win some cool prizes at the same time. Talk about a win-win!

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Corel helps teachers get ready for back-to-school

Students working on computers in libraryIt’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end. Sorry to break the news to you! Soon the temperature will drop, the leaves will fall and the kids will head back to school. This year, educators can return to the classroom with more than a fresh start. They can arrive fully equipped with creative software!

Earlier this year, Corel introduced the Teacher-Try-It Program, allowing qualified teachers and faculty members in the U.S. and Canada to download free Corel software. Educators looking to enhance their students’ technology skills can now do so, without breaking the bank. Imagine the possibilities in the classroom!

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Introducing the NEW Painter 2015


With great power comes great creativity and we are confident in saying that Painter 2015 packs a punch! Painter is known for offering the world’s most realistic brushes but what you will experience in Painter 2015 is so real, it’s unreal.

We could not have released such a fantastic version of Painter without the help of our invaluable Advisory Council and Beta Testers. If you are not familiar with the council, they are a panel of artists who dedicate their time to providing us with application feedback and artist workflows. They test run the software and meet with us weekly leading up to launch in order to share thoughts for improvements, tips and techniques. They also helped develop brushes that you will find within the product, reinforcing the fact that Painter is developed by artists for artists. Huge thanks go out to our Advisory Council and the Beta Testers.

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CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 and looking ahead

With over 25 years of development, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in visual communication. Your usage of CorelDRAW and the amazing designs you produce are a key elements that drives the development of new versions of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, and version X7 recently introduced is no exception. The vast majority of the new and enhanced features included in X7 are the direct result of your feedback in the community, surveys you’ve answered, active participation from our advisory council and beta testers as well as on-site visits by our team (plus many other sources of feedback). For example, you can now very easily create elliptic and rectangular fountain fills, we added outside and inside outlines, color styles continue to get enhancements and you can also experiment with type using the Font Playground docker.

But an even more important theme comes out clearly from the research we do: in addition to having a complete toolbox at your disposal, you also need to be very productive with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. We know you aren’t paid by the hour for using our software. If you are a graphics professional, you’re most certainly paid by the job you produce. Being able to deliver high-quality graphics your customers expect as quickly as possible enables you to delight them and get more business over your competition. If you’re a small business owner who only uses graphics software occasionally, you need to get the job done quickly but with a high visual quality in order to go back to your business. Being able to turn around the graphics and flyers for a new promotion very quickly enables you to focus on your day job – making your customer happy.

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Create seamless patterns on your iPhone with Patterns (iOS 7)

IconWith the release of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7, comes a brand new FREE app from Corel for the iPhone and iPod Touch called Patterns.

I am a graphic designer, and this new app has been fascinating to work with. It is an app that simplifies the complexity of seamless patterns at the touch of a few gestures.

In this era of touch devices, the Patterns app integrates seamlessly with the Corel Content Exchange, and it is as easy as it could be to use in a daily workflow. Let’s go through the app in detail, from installation to interface, usability and integration with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7.

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How to customize the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 UI to make it your own

Have you ever cooked in someone else’s kitchen? Opening and closing drawers looking for a spatula, walking around in circles trying to find the salt, and wondering where to put the garbage. It’s always in the last place you look.  For a cook, there’s nothing as comfortable as cooking in your own kitchen. You have organized your kitchen in a manner that makes sense to you; your favorite tools are at your fingertips, and you can focus on your craft rather than your workspace.  With CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7, customizing your workspace to make it your own has never been easier.

When I was putting together my cookbook, Criollo: A taste of Venezuela, in CorelDRAW I realized I was using certain tools and dockers frequently. So, customizing them to be readily available only made sense. However, during the year it took me to put the cookbook together, I was also working on other projects. One of the things I love the most about CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 is that creating and switching between customized workspaces is easy and fast.

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Designs: A Windows app that lets inspiration strike anywhere

Corel Designs is an app for graphic designers and basically anyone using images for inspiration in their work. The designs app is made available for Windows 8.1 users. It is very simple to use and quite straight forward. You can go to Corel’s website or directly to the Windows Store and download it.


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