Monday, July 12, 2010

Quick Tips for Shooting Sports

It's a busy time of year for sports photography, with an exciting World Cup win by Spain (unless you’re a Netherlands fan!) just wrapped up, and the All –Star game taking place on Tuesday. Even if you’re not shooting professional sports, you can still get great looking images of your kids on the field or your favorite AAA team scoring the winning run. Here are a few quick tips on getting better sports photographs.

Scout Your Spot Early: Figuring out where to stand is critical to getting the best shots because success means being in the right place at the right time. Try to get to the field a bit early to gauge which places are best for shooting the action as it unfolds. Is it possible to get a spot close to first base? Are there items that could obstruct your view? As you start shooting in this environment, you’ll get a feel for the best places to stand, and once you’ve got that down, you should be set for the entire season.

Getting Around the Fence: How many times has the fence proved a formidable opponent to your getting that perfect shot of your child sliding into home plate? Again, a little bit of planning can make all the difference. Play with various locations close to the fence to see if there is a particular angle that will allow you to shoot in the clear. You may also want to consider a monopod for these events as they can be a great asset in helping you shoot from a higher angle, which will not only allow you to secure the shot but also to create images from a new and interesting perspective.

Candid Camaraderie: Sometimes we’re so focused on the action that we forget about those wonderful moments of playful connection and camaraderie between teammates. Keep your eyes open for those high-fives and pats-on-the-back. These moments represent the heart of team sports and lend another dimension to our sports photography library.

Choosing the Right Lens: You are inevitably shooting from the sidelines during a game, and you’re also probably a good deal away from the action. You need a long lens. That’s right - the longer the better usually. If you are a digital SLR user, you should opt for a focal length 100mm or longer, with 300 being your best bet. Choose a zoom lens for even more flexibility. You also want to choose a fast lens – meaning one that has a wide maximum aperture, f/2.8 or greater. This will give your more ability to capture the action at dusk or in other low light scenarios. A new post of the Complete Lens Buyer Guide is being worked on as I write this, I’ll post more information once it’s ready.

It’s all About Timing: Getting the great shot at a sporting event has a lot to do with timing. It helps to be familiar with the sport, with the plays, and the general rhythm of the game so you can be prepared when something exciting happens. Think about following the players with your camera to your eye, ready to fire, so when that split-second play happens you are ready and waiting to capture it. Choose a camera that allows you to shoot multiple frames per second – that way you can choose from a bunch of images of that definitive moment.

What are your ideas for better sports photographs? There are certainly a lot of you out there who have probably been doing this for awhile. Leave your comments below!