One of the biggest mistakes of amateur photographers, regardless of what subject matter they are shooting, is dashing out the door without making sure they have all the equipment they may need. You may be outdoors prowling both sides of the soccer pitch looking for great shots or inside a gymnasium to photograph your daughter’s volleyball game. You don’t want to leave in the middle of the game and action because you’ve drained your batteries and forgot to bring an extra set, or filled the only memory card you have.
Don’t rely absolutely on your camera, even if it is a DSLR, to select the right exposure every time. Yes, the auto feature on your camera does the job for many photographic situations, but sometimes you must take control of exposure. Of course, you can’t do that if you don’t know how or don’t know what exposure settings are required for outdoors or indoors sports photography.
A wide aperture is also necessary for good sports photography, so you can create images with shallow depth of field. This causes the many distractions in the background of sports action, such as spectators, to be much less in focus than the primary subject matter. The subjects of your photos will seem to pop from the background and draw viewers’ eyes to the action and give your photos more three-dimensionality.
A non-photographic technique that will contribute greatly to the quality of your sports photos is simply to know the sport thoroughly. You need to know more than the rules. You must know how the game is played and how the specific actions and interactions of players could result in the shots you want to capture. The greatest sports photographers are those that can anticipate the action and actually start the shutter-release process before the picture occurs that they want. The shutter is then open at that optimum moment of action.
The other secrets that professional sports photographers know and use is always to show players’ faces, so their reactions to the action are visible; include the ball; and crop your compositions tightly.
A surprising benefit for many casual sports photographers, who apply these techniques, is that they spend less time editing their photos. Most of the editing process can occur in the camera while shooting, as you’re able to make these techniques a regular part of your sports photography.
You’re a proud parent with one or more child participating in athletics and a casual photographer outfitted with the equipment to capture them excelling on the field of play. You might also be a student photographer shooting pictures of your school’s athletic teams for the school newspaper or Web site. You may also be an amateur photographer that enjoys the challenges and rewards of shooting athletes and the games they play.
You can improve the results of your casual sports photos when you learn the following 6 techniques and consciously incorporate them into your photography.
The first step, therefore, is to learn the concepts of ISO, aperture and shutter speed thoroughly, and how they relate to each other. The fundamental lesson is that when you change one, it typically requires that you change one or both of the others. The PhotographyTalk.com Web site has many articles about the details of the three elements of exposure.
As an example, when shooting sports outdoors, especially on a bright, sunny day, first set the ISO to the “normal” setting of 100. Next, select aperture priority with a very wide aperture. Your camera will then choose the fastest possible shutter speed. To freeze the action of sports outdoors, you should typically shoot at a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th, but 1/1000th is even better. Because the light is lower inside a gymnasium or arena, you may have to select a higher ISO, 200 or 400, for example, so the aperture remains wide and the shutter speed is at least 1/250th.
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Photo by PhotographyTalk Member Rob Huelsman