Shooting Sporty Photography for Beginners
Out of all things to shoot I love sports photography the most, I love to capture the split moment an athlete takes flight. The sweat beads dripping down their forehead and the face they make the second the ball is past the fence, or through the goalkeeper’s fingers. I think I might get even a little more excited than the actual athlete when I capture a great shot that is in focus and has the right lighting. I have taken a few sports photography classes while in high school and though a would share a few tips with someone else exploring the wonderful world of sports photography.
Know the Sport – You don’t need to know all the rules and what everything means but know where the plan is going and how the game is won. You want to anticipate the play so if you are lined up on the wrong end of the field for football you are never going to get a great shot. You want to beat them to the punch and know where they are headed so you are ready to shoot them in action.
Know Your Surroundings – If you are shooting basketball or ice hockey you might want to come a little early and find a good stop to set up camp to get great angles and lighting. If you are outside you don’t have to worry too much about lighting as much since its natural. You should know what you are working with and what kind of lenses and equipment is needed. Indoor sports, in my opinion, require different lenses than what I would shoot with for indoor sports like swimming.
Getting the Right Gear – I would use a 50mm f/1.8 lens for a close indoor sport like swimming and while sitting under the basket for basketball but I would use my 70-300mm lens for large length fields like lacrosse and football for night games I would also invest in a lens with a large aperture. With larger lenses, I would also suggest investing in a monopod which will help with stability so you can focus 100% on the shot when holding up the lens.
Shutter Speed – It makes all the difference and you need to know when to use which, for dark lit sports I wouldn’t suggest turning your speed to its fastest capability because you lose light in the process, this is extremely important in dark light pools and for sports like gymnastics. For outdoor sports like baseball and you want to capture the ball on the tip of the pitches hands you’re going to need your shutter speed at 1/4000 of a second to get that split second.
Look at A Different Angle – shoot from the ground looking up, find a different location. With photography, you are making memories but also sharing a passion shoot from different angles that most people wouldn’t see. Shoot soccer behind the net to get the goalies perspective, make your work stand out from the rest by making it interesting that no one else has seen.
Decide What to Shoot and When – Just like the athlete playing the game you need to decide your goal and what you want to accomplish before they do. If your goal is to get the ball at the split second it leaves the pitcher’s hand or the slide tackle from your daughter, you need to have a plan. In getting the perfect shot requires you to not throw you camera into auto shutter mode you will never capture the right second when you are holding down the shutter button. Just like the athlete you need to work with precision if your goal is a certain place get yourself set and what for them to come to you and be focused.
Don’t Get Emotional – Don’t watch the game watch the players, the minute you start focusing on the game and not at the camera is when you miss the best action and moments. Also, don’t stop shooting the best action sometimes can take place on the sidelines of a tough fought win or the tears of a sad defeat. Don’t get involved in the game just shoot all those tiny little details.
Pay Attention – I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten run over why basketball players under the basket, tackled by a football player out of bounds and splashed with water and snow from swimming and our high school ski team. Know your surrounding and where you stand, also know your lighting. Spring games the sun can peek in and out of your photos, so every so often check to see is you need to tune any of your settings but stay paying attention to the game. If you are constantly checking your old photos to see if they are in focus is when you miss out on the best action save the sharing and browsing till you’re at home.
Hope some of these tips can help you on your journey to being a better photographer, I could honestly talk about sports photography and the many stories I have from going to different games for hours.
Spreading Sprinkles & Sparkles,