Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tips for sport photography

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when photographing most sports.

    -Use ISO 400 film or set your digital camera to ISO 400 - The extra "film speed" will give you a faster shutter speed, which you usually need to get a sharp action image. Some of the newer dSLRs will even give excellent results at ISO 800 or 1600.
    -Use the aperture-priority shooting mode - As a general rule, using aperture priority is the most reliable way to shoot sports, as long as you stay aware of what the shutter speed is. Use the widest available aperture, so you'll get the fastest shutter speed.
    -Set your camera auto focus to "servo" mode - At least that's what it's called on Canon cameras. It's the mode where as long as you push the shutter half-way down, the camera will continually focus. This allows you to follow the action and take your shot whenever you feel the moment is right.
    -Set your metering mode to full frame - Other photographers may argue this point, but I've found the full frame metering mode to be most reliable when shooting sports. I also shoot with an exposure compensation of 1/2-stop under. While in this full-frame mode, I try to make sure to keep the sun behind me. If you're forced to shoot into the sun, you may want to switch to a spot metering mode.
    -Know the sport - It pays to learn as much as you can about the sport you are going to photograph. For example, if you know what is about to happen during a penalty kick in soccer, you'll know you have an opportunity to catch the goalie in a great action shot.

        -Move around - One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to take all of your shots from one location. This is really true of most types of photography, but when you're at the game, move around and check out the angles and opportunities from different perspectives. Keep on eye on that source of light, though.
        -Try different modes and shutter speeds - After you've gotten comfortable shooting the action, don't be afraid to experiment. Switch to shutter priority, for example, and try various shutter speeds. Keep in mind, though, that this will be highly experimental...and your number of acceptable shots might be drastically reduced. However, you might also grab that one fantastic shot that might otherwise have eluded you.
          Although the exact location of the action is unpredictable, there are still some techniques you can use to increase your chances of getting better-than-average soccer photos.
            -Find the players with the best expressions - Watch the game for a while and specifically notice which players have the best expressions. Which players are the most intense? If you can capture those facial expressions your shots will have more impact.
            -Don't spend much time shooting at mid-field At mid-field, you'll only catch side shots of offensive players as they run by. And it will be VERY difficult to catch defensive players on the ball, since they tend to boot the ball out of their zone as soon as it comes near.
            -Catch the action around the goals - Move to the ends of the field and concentrate on the action around the goals. Look for breakaways and shoot a series of photos of the breakaway action. While I rarely shoot sports in "continuous" motor drive mood, this is an exception. Shooting a series of 5-6 shots of a breakaway can often lead to soccer photos with loads of impact.
            -Look for action away from the ball - Not every great soccer shot has the ball in the frame. Look for opportunities to catch action away from the ball. For example, pick a player and follow that player with your camera. Chances are you'll find some interesting moments even when the ball is elsewhere. Another example is to look for players celebrating immediately after a goal. The facial expressions and high fives can make a great photo.
              When you set out to "cover" your first soccer game, concentrate on the basics first. Use the safest camera settings and get the feel of what you are doing. Only experiment with other techniques and settings after you are completely comfortable with the basics.

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