Sports photography is not something reserved for magazines and photo reporters – anyone can learn do to it! It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting football, rugby, tennis, skiing or some extreme sports – these are all great opportunities to learn how to get some amazing action shots!
All you need is a little bit of patience and some sports event you’re eager to watch.
The following 5 tips on sports photography are very versatile and they will surely help you get started when it comes to shooting various sports.
1. Learn The Sport You Want To Shoot
You shouldn’t shoot just any sport or game you happen to come across –you should photograph the sports that you understand at least on a basic level!
Sports photographers are always anticipating action – they know what is about to happen even before the press the shutter. Doing some research and knowing the sport will certainly make your images more meaningful.
Furthermore, understanding a sport also allows you to nail a shot with a single frame instead of taking zillions of shots with no real value. Every sport has its own rules and dynamics which you should learn and use wisely towards getting the best possible image.
2. Use Proper Camera Settings
When it comes to sports photography, there are three factors you should always have in your mind – continuous (burst) mode, placement of focal points and aperture or shutter priority.
Whenever you shoot some action, you should make sure your camera is set to continuous mode. This means that the camera can keep up with the movements of the players and you won’t have to press the shutter button manually for every single shot.
You should also have your camera’s focus mode set to AI Servo. This mode is made specifically for shooting continuous movement and for panning, which is really useful for sports photography.
It’s also crucial to make sure that all focal points are active. This means that the most important player on the field will probably be in focus (and if you use just one focal point chances are you’ll miss something important).
The reason why it’s smart to use aperture or shutter priority when shooting sports is pretty simple. It’s not easy to toggle both shutter speed and aperture manually when something is happening really fast.
3. Have A Solid Zoom Range
Lenses matter a lot when it comes to sports photography. A focal length greater than 200mm is really great since it allows the photographer to get close to the action. In case you can’t zoom in properly, you won’t be able to isolate your subject, which means that your images won’t look their best.
Two common lenses for shootings sports are Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and Canon 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6.
4. Focus On The Faces And Emotions
Even though your main task is to capture the action, you shouldn’t forget to emphasize the emotion too!
The best way to achieve this is to focus on the faces. This is really important since the faces are usually the first thing we notice even in sports photography.
Give your best to capture some interesting emotions on the faces of sportsmen you’re shooting – the joy of victory, anger, fear, pride…. Anything goes as long as it’s powerful!
5. Try To Shoot Tight
While you should definitely show some variety in perspective when it comes to your action photographs, you should avoid shooting too wide and introducing many distracting elements. It’s advisable to keep the action tight and draw the viewer into the image as much as possible.
The best sports photography often resemble high-quality portraits, with an additional element of action. Whenever you’re not sure how to shoot an athlete, just recall the general rules of portraiture.
Sports photography is fun and challenging but above all very rewarding experience. It feels incredible to capture those special yet brief moments that are impossible to recreate.
Once you have your subject in the frame, try to capture as many photos per second as you can, because you don’t want to miss anything!
- Sports Photography Video Tutorials That Cover 5 Different Sports by Ritesh Saini
- Taking Your Sports Photography Beyond Snapshots – a great article.
- Useful Tips On How To Photograph Winter Sports by Kent DuFault