Taking great sports photograph is not something that happens by chance. It requires just as much practice and technique as that displayed by the athletes themselves. You may happen to snap a good sports photograph you were not expecting, but if you want to take those glorious shots consistently, there are some tips and techniques that could serve you well.
DSLRS are your best choice
Using the right equipment may seem like a cliche advise, but it really matters. The art of photography begins with your equipment. Taking sports photographs requires a camera which shoots at fast shutter speeds and in any light condition. DSLRs are the most suitable cameras for the job as they are easy to carry around, produce great image quality and you will be able to use a variety of telephoto lens.
You will need telephoto lens of varying focal length for different sports, but the basic length should be 200mm for interior sports and 4oomm for outdoor sports such as football. The
general rule is that the farther away the player(s) you are focusing on, the longer the lens will need to be.
Photo by Glenn Capers
Get to know the sport
Understanding the game in play, the strategies of the game, and being able to follow the progress of the game will give you an advantage. You will be able to understand why a player is in a certain position and why, for example, the ball is played into a certain area. This allows you to anticipate a player’s move. Movements during a game take place within a split second. This second can make all the difference to the shot you capture. Knowing the sport helps you to anticipate, quickly predict, and just be ready for any action that will make a memorable shot. You will not have time to think; so fast reaction is important.
Use a higher shutter speed to improve lighting conditions for freezing your shots
Professional photographers who cover sports events tend to use approximately 1/1000 of a second to stop motion for their shutter speed. This is usually adequate during the day, but at night the F Stop you will need may be faster than you lens can accommodate. You will need to increase your cameras ISO, allowing it to use more light. This increases your chance of taking that perfect shot.
If you have a camera such as the Nikon D700 or Canon 5d Mark II you can increase the ISO up to 3200. Alternatively, you can set the ISO on auto select and allow the camera to automatically choose the best settings for the shot.
Focus on a particular player
It is inevitable that you will miss some good action. Trying to capture everything may just leave you with nothing worth talking about. Try to focus on a particular player and follow the action of the game. As a photographer, you will need to find the rhythm of the game. It is easier to capture good shots when you do this, as you seem to become one with what is taking place on the court, the field or in the ring.
Sports photography offers many opportunities to take great shots. Like everything else, for professional shots you must have certain techniques that will help you get those shots.