- Full-swing pictures of a tee shot or fairway shot.
- Sand traps and various hazards.
- Putting on the green.
- Players’ and spectators’ reactions.
- Wide landscapes to show the beauty of the course.
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Digital photography of your favorite foursome reveals much more about those memorable weekend competitions than the numbers on a scorecard. Plus, it’s an opportunity for you to expand your sports photography experience, especially in a sport that’s difficult to photograph. There's not much physical activity (running, jumping, kicking, knocking heads) in golf, the “playing field” is enormous and the ball is very small and moves much faster than a football, basketball or baseball. In addition, the positions and angles available to you are quite limited. You can’t stand too close to a golfer because you could interrupt his or her concentration or be hit by the club or ball.
To develop your photographer’s eye and other skills and techniques, however, you must be willing to face the difficult challenges of sports photography, and golf, specifically. As with anything in life, the rewards are sweeter when you are able to overcome the toughest tests. Plus, if people praise you for your golf photos, especially your golfing buddies, who like how you make them look like a pro, then you have a psychological advantage over them before you even step onto the first tee.
If you’re a golfer or a fan of the game, then you’ve probably seen many golf photos shot by the pros. Most of their photos (and those you can shoot on a course) can be grouped into a number of categories.
This two-part PhotographyTalk.com article presents tips and techniques for shooting better golf pictures in each of these categories.
The first rule of sports photography is to show the ball in most every photo. This is virtually impossible when shooting a golfer taking a full swing at the ball. Freezing the action of the ball just as it leaves the tee or ground just isn’t possible with most digital cameras. You can still shoot interesting full-swing photos that include the ball; it just won’t be moving. Try these ideas:
Frame the golfer and the ball, and then use a slower shutter speed, so the club is blurred during the down stroke.
Use a wide-angle lens and shoot from a very low angle, even lying on the ground. You want the ball to look large in the foreground and see the entire body of the golfer above it. Of course, your buddy can’t actually swing and hit the ball with you in this position, as it is probably too dangerous. You could also place the camera low and near the ball, but trip the shutter with a remote cable or wireless system.
It may be better to capture full-swing photos on the practice range instead of during a round. You can take your time to set up various shots and angles, without disrupting and delaying play on the course.
Another technique is to add a ball to your full-swing golf photo in editing software. This will take some practice, as the ball must look blurred and natural within the larger photograph.
Another important point to remember for full-swing photos and most any golf or sports photos is how the shutter release works on compact and DSLR cameras. When you push the shutter release on a compact, or point-and-shoot, camera, there is a one- or two-second delay before the sensor records the image. You must take that delay into account because if you see the action you want to capture through the viewfinder, then the camera will miss it. You must anticipate that action by those few seconds and release the shutter before it happens. There is also a delay in compact cameras during the recording of the image. It must be captured and then moved into storage before the sensor is ready to accept a new picture.
The inner workings of an inexpensive camera can’t set the correct focus, analyze the exposure and choose the proper shutter speed and aperture as fast as a semi-pro or professional DSLR camera. In fact, the DSLR registers your image almost instantly when you release the shutter. That is one of many reasons a DSLR camera is preferred for sports photography. With either type of camera, you’ll have to practice this technique a bit, especially if you have little or no sports photography experience.
Read Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com article for more tips about shooting golf photography. (Coming Soon)