Best Tips For Photographing Sports

How to Take Outstanding Action Sports Photography Shots

Sports photography tips are important for anyone who might like to engage in action sports photography, which can be a very exciting art form or recreation for the sports enthusiast.

One of the best Tips For Photographing Sports I can give you today is: you no longer need the professional’s specialized equipment unless, well, you are going to be a professional at it.

Action sports photography can now be engaged in by the “common man” (and woman) with the advent of the digital camera.

Whether you’re talking the compact digital camera or SRLs, you can now learn how to take some excellent sports shots that will look great in your shared Picasa album, on your website, included with freelance sports articles that you want to sell, or framed and put on your wall.

First Among Sports Photography Tips: Understand The Shots

Remember, action sports photography requires shooting people and possibly machines in motion–sometimes moving at very high speeds as in the case of motorcycle racing or car racing.

Even ice hockey players, downhill skiers, and speed skaters will seem to be flying when you look at them through your viewfinder. You are trying to capture an exciting moment in time that is gone within a split second. Be ready to consider your subject matter as giving you some performance art.

Typically, action sports photography will involve you taking shots of people who are throwing, leaping, tackling, running, kicking, skating, swinging at or hitting some object, attempting to catch an object, driving/riding, or skiing.

There will be times when other things are involved in your shots, but these are your basics. It’s best that you go in with your digital camera with these basics in mind so that you are better prepared to capture them. He who hesitates is lost in action sports photography.

You may also like: 12 Best Tips On Wildlife Photography For Beginners

Second Tips For Photographing Sports: Understand the Sport

What are the exciting or key moments of interest in the sport that you are photographing? Are you watching football, ice hockey, tennis, or baseball? Rugby, soccer, track, and field? Winter sports? Spring or Summer sports? You need to have some familiarity with the sport before you, its rules and flow, and the typical interactions between players and competitors, or else you will miss a lot of great moments while shooting a lot of duds.

For the amateur action sports photographer, there is no point in taking lots of shots of a baseball pitcher staring at the catcher, the tennis player bouncing the ball in preparation to serve it, the football players lined up before the snap, the Indy cars in pit row, the skiers waiting in the box at the top of the snowy hill, the ice hockey players waiting in the face-off circle for the puck to drop, or any other still shots like that.

Professionals can use these shots because they know to look for special things that will go along with the text of an article. But for you, it’s cut to the chase and take the action shots.

You want to be getting shots of the pitcher, catcher, batter, and mid-flight baseball; the tennis players follow through the motion just in the nanosecond after the service has been hit; the quarterback launching a pass to a leaping wide receiver; the Indy cars flying around a hairpin turn; the skiers gliding around a flag; the goalie’s mitt raised to snatch the 100-mile-per-hour puck as he does a split on skates. These are the moments that matter to you.

If you’re getting into action sports photography because you have children participating in sports, these same sports photography ideas should apply.

No, you don’t need a dozen photographs of your kid standing in the batter’s box waiting for a pitch. No, you don’t need photographs of him sitting on the sidelines waiting to be sent back into the game.

Capture your children’s and children’s teams’ action moments, too. Save the still lives for the fruit bowl.

Third Among Shooting Sports Photography: Know Your Camera

Since you are trying to capture great split-second moments, you have to know the shutter speed lag time of your particular camera. This means, how fast does your camera respond from the instant you press the button to the instant when the picture is actually snapped? Practice with your camera to get a feel for this timing.

This is where your knowledge of the sport you’re watching coupled with this understanding of your camera come together.

Action sports photography is all about anticipation. Sometimes, in digital sports photography, you’ll still end up with dud shots if events don’t unfold quite as you expected, but that doesn’t matter. You will capture the great, key moments and even come away with surprises from unexpected turns of events.

Maybe you were preparing to photograph a wide receiver’s leaping mid-air catch, but instead, you shot a daring interception. Great!

The Action Sports Photography Tips Finale: Tell a Story

Just as you don’t need every little still shot, so you don’t need every action shot. Photography is about telling stories with images. When you can take shots that involve wider angles of the playing field or close-ups of an athlete’s face in the heat of action, you are telling stories.

As you practice your action sports photography tips, you’ll naturally become a better storyteller, as long as you are mindful of the need to be one. Enjoy yourself!


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