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8 Tips On How to Photograph Sports

A Guest Post by Pamela Aurino.

1) Camera Settings – Burst mode, Focal Points & Aperture Priority

sports-photography.JPGWhen shooting any sports, make sure your camera is set to burst/continuous mode to keep up with movements of the players. This will save you having to press the button manually for every shot. Have your camera’s focus mode to AI servo mode which is made to shoot continuous movement & for panning.

Also ensuring all your focal points are active will make sure you have optimum chance of focusing on the player with the ball. When shooting sports it is ok to have the camera in Aperture Priority mode as we’re dealing with a really fast game and you need to be on the ball with exposure rather than having to always toggle the shutter speed manually.

2) Camera Settings – Shoot in JPG!

I personally shoot in jpg as opposed to RAW. When you’re taking so many continuous shots you’re going to want a maximum buffer speed. You’ll find when shooting soccer / netball tournaments, the parents buying the shots aren’t going to be too fussed on quality of the image as long as you captured something at the right time. A sporting tournament can get quite messy when you’re coming out and back off the field to download CF cards and you’re having to wait for the raw files to download.

3) Lens settings – 2.8 Is Almost An Essential!

You’re going to need a fast telephoto zoom lens when photographing sports. I shoot with a Canon 70-200 f/4 IS USM and I love it! Although indoor sports photography like bowling may require a 2.8 lens as you get another full stop of light in.

4) Lens settings – Image Stabiliser & Focus Mode

An absolute MUST when photographing sports photography is to have IS on your lens. You want to set your lens to Image Stabiliser Mode 2. Mode 1 is only made for still subjects & portraiture and won’t perform as well as the panning mode 2 in sporting situations.

Have your focusing distance range set to 3m to Infinity mode instead of 1.2m to Infinity. This will make sure you have the fastest focusing possible.

5) Note The Time of Day

sports-photography-tips.JPGSoccer games usually run in the morning so if you’re aiming to sell prints after the game of the individual players be sure to spread out the range of players shot. There are certain players who like to step back more than others but it’s your responsibility as the photographer to record everyone and to maximise your profits.

Take note of where the sun is and make sure the sun is to your back when shooting. This will ensure you have your shutter speed on it’s maximum without having to worry about exposing for the faces of the players if you were shooting into the sun. I am willing to sacrifice a little squinting and panda eyes from the players to ensure I get the right exposure. After all if you don’t nail that exposure no one is going to care about panda eyes because there won’t be a shot.

Concentrate on shooting one team for the first half as they will be in the right position with the sun illuminating their fronts/faces. Then when half time is over aim to shoot all the players on the other team as they would have switched sides on the field.

6) No Eyes! No Shot!

When photographing sports, the key rule is to include the eyes of the subject and you can never fail. If you’re shooting the back of a player, STOP! ..Wait for them to turn around (or turn to another player on the field) ..and shoot when you have their eyes in the shot. The best shots in soccer are the headers and knee shots, as their eye level will typically be above parallel to the ground which is what we want. Whatever you do, don’t forget to photograph the goal keeper! He/she doesn’t have much interaction with the entire game, but the anticipation shots in between can still make great shots.

7) Include The Ball!

The eyes and the ball are two of the most important compositional elements in a shot. Then to add to the shot is the expression in the players face.

Although it can be difficult to capture, parents of the players are more likely to buy a picture that includes the game ball in it.

8) Wear an Official Photographer Vest!

Make sure you wear a big yellow/orange vest to indicate to people you are the official sports photographer. A photographer in Wollongong, NSW taped a sign on his back saying ‘Request A Shot!’ and at least that indicates to them that they are welcome to pull you aside. If you are more open to people nagging you, (yes it will be a little annoying having to be pulled aside with parents saying ‘look out for my son, number 12!’) the more sales you will make from prints.

See more of Pamela’s work at http://www.elaphotography.com.au.

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