Sports photography

In order to take most fast action and sports pictures, you need to set the shutter speed up to 1/500 of a second. This means that the lens in the camera must be fast enough to permit light to enter at that speed. In other words, it should be f/4.5 or faster.

Why take action shots when you can get a good posed picture? Just compare them, and you'll see the difference. In the action shot the person pictured looks more natural as we rarely see people standing absolutely still.

To get better action shots, do two things: study your subject and get in the right position for the speed of your camera. A few rules should be kept in mind:

  1. Movement across your path is faster (as far as the lens is concerned) than movement coming toward you. Imagine a track star breaking the tape at finish line. From the sidelines, you would need a very fast lens to catch him cleanly. Probably 1/500 of a second from 25 feet. From in front of the runner, perhaps 1/100 would catch him.
  2. The further away a subject is, the less speed your camera will see. Contrary, the nearer the subject is, the faster its speed appears.
  3. The best time to take picture is at the climax of movement. For this, you have to know what your subjects are likely to do. For example, you know the runner is going to break the tape, and you know that that is the best moment to shoot. Taking a shot of him running midway down the track is usually going to be less interesting. When he is tearing through the tape, he shows more expression, too. His final lunge and burst of speed will be apparent in his face and in the strain and tension of his entire body.

To anticipate the most exciting moment to shoot, you must know the characteristics of the sport. After some practice, you will be ready and able to catch some of the spontaneous and unexpected shots that make classic sports pictures. Those that come without warning are hardest to shoot, but if you look for certain situations in each sport you will be somewhat forewarned. Generally the best time to shoot is just before the action reaches its peak.

  • In baseball: Most of the action is around home plate, first base and second base. Get set where the exciting plays occur. Shoot a batter just before he completes his swing. Shoot a sliding runner as he hits the dirt. Shoot a fielder leaping at the top of his jump. Shoot a pitcher as he releases the ball. Shoot a double play as the pivot man throws.
  • In football: The action shifts continually and you have to follow along the sidelines. Watch for an end catching or a halfback tossing a pass. Shoot a runner approaching the goal line, a tackle being missed, a player about to kick the point after touchdown. if the day is rainy or snowy, you will need some kind of protective covering your camera. If the day is dark, you will not be able to get the quick action shot you would obtain on a lighter day. (No enough light entering at the fast speed).
  • In basketball: A favorite spot for a photographer is directly above the basket (if there is a balcony). From there you can get the expressions on the players faces and the ball dropping in for a score. From the sidelines, you might keep your camera low to accentuate the height of the players. Shoot while the ball is in the air towards a basket. Shoot a tangle of players' arms in a battle for the ball. Shoot from below the basket as the shooter lets fly.
  • On the track: For a relay, the time the stick is passed is exciting. Shoot the high jumper or pole vaulter just before he reaches his peak.
  • At the pool: Keep your camera angle low for divers. Shoot while they are in the air. Swimmers in the water are made exciting by the spray their arms churn up. Backstroke races show their faces best. Protect your camera from the water.
  • Other sports: The duel types of sports require low angle shots to point up the action such as boxing, wrestling, fencing, golf and tennis. In tennis, you might shoot from the gallery and show both players framed within the rectangular shape of the court.

More about Camera Shooting Techniques

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