The most exciting aspect of sports photography is that you, as the photographer, have the power to freeze one moment in time for all prosperity. That moment, if you’re lucky enough to catch it, could contain a pure and raw moment of the sport that the naked eye is not able to. You see it, sure, but the moment is gone in a fraction of a second and the brain has moved on to processing the next bit of data. Once you have it in your camera (be it film or digital) you can share it via your chosen means.
If you’re into sports photography, or would like to be, and quite inquisitive about taking adrenaline-pumping shots, you must get to know the sport itself yourself. Since every sport varies, the designs and techniques utilised in capturing and freezing that key moment vary. With an understanding of the sport, you can start to predict when that great shot may come. On a bend in motorsport when two or more cars are battling for the lead; as a goal is scored in soccer to capture the celebrations or the moment the keeper just misses the ball; just as a touchdown is scored in american football. You get the idea!
You need to have some background understanding of the sport you’re covering. Knowledge of coaching techniques, rules, and players can help you find the the most intriguing angles for the amazing shot. Always remember though, your safety is important. A shot that’s straightforward to shoot and can be printed is better than risking your own safety.
Here are some basic sports photography pointers fit common sports:
1. Baseball. Most seasoned sports photographers would agree that baseball is one sport that’s hardest to shoot thanks to its unpredictability. Ensure that you just get your safety sorted, before trying those experimental shots.
2. Basketball. In contrast to baseball, this is often the simplest sport to shoot due to the fact you only have to focus on a couple of things: the player with the ball and the net they are aiming for. However this simplicity limits you to different angles, therefore ensure you take many shots and then you can review them afterwards and delete those that didn’t get the shot you wanted.
3. Football. This is often another straightforward sport to shoot however it’s also one of the most demanding sports for equipment and needs to you really understand the sport so you can look at the next moves and getting that ideal shot.
4. Soccer and Hockey. These sports are packed with speed and sudden movement so autofocus cameras are highly recommended.
5. Volleyball. Though it’s one among the seldom covered sports events, volleyball is among the favourites as a result of dramatic shots you can get. Since moves within the sports are quite tough, ensure that you use your cameras autofocus settings wisely.
6. Golf. This can be a challenging sport to photograph because of the character of the game itself. There are to main strategies here. Pick a spot and camp out at one location on the course and take shots as players go through that spot; or use a cart (walk if you’re fit enough or can’t get cart access) to follow the individual players.
7. Track and Field. Although access will often be restricted, this is often one sport that’s fun to shoot as a result of movements being, in the main, predictable and straightforward to shoot. All you need is a fast shutter speed, good technique and, like a lot of photography, patience!
8. Gymnastics and Figure Skating. One basic rule of these sports that you must follow: NO FLASH. Since they involve people undertaking complex, intricate and often dangerous movements, the use of a flash is restricted so as not to distract the gymnasts or skaters. Lighting can be a problem but once the performers are inn action that should be easier as the lights are brought up.
9. Motorsports and Racing Events. These are fairly straightforward to photograph as and you can get away with slower lenses. However, the biggest challenge is getting close to the action, and seeing through safety fences and barriers, so a good telephoto lens is likely to be on your shopping list. Motorsport is a particular interest for me and I’ll be covering this again and sharing some of my successes – and failures!