Many people believe sports and action photography isn’t possible without specialist equipment and years of experience. It’s actually quite easy to capture action in a picture if go about it the right way. Long lenses and professional digital SLR cameras are perfect tools for the job, but you can also produce great pictures with more basic equipment.
Experimenting with sports and action photography is a great way to improve your camera skills. Understanding shutter speeds is essential, and this is a useful skill you can apply to other photographic subjects. Good sports photographers are able to anticipate and capture key moments, and this ability is also useful in wildlife and portrait photography.
The following tips will guide you to produce action pictures like a pro.
1) Shoot in shutter priority mode.
Shutter priority mode is ideal for sports photography as it allows you to select a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. Most digital SLR cameras allow you to set a minimum shutter speed in other automatic modes, and this is a very useful feature.
There’s nothing more disappointing than checking a picture on your camera’s display and realising it’s just a blur. You may need to select a high ISO setting if working indoors or in low light conditions.
2) Know your sport.
If you’re photographing a sport or event you aren’t familiar with, take some time to do a little research and get to know the rules. Understanding what’s happening gives you a better chance of capturing the key moments.
In sports like martial arts a pro photographer gets to know the moves and techniques requiring the most skill. Concentrating on one sport allows you to become an expert.
3) Crop for impact.
One of the skills professional sports photographers develop is the ability to capture drama in a picture. Cropping images tightly is one way to achieve this. Instead of incorporating the entire scene in an image, choose a tight crop to isolate the action.
For example, a shot of a soccer player’s foot striking the ball could make a very powerful photograph. Experiment with cropping using photo editing software if you don’t have time at the shooting stage.
4) Work with motion blur.
Action photography isn’t just about capturing perfectly frozen moments. Mounting your camera on a tripod and selecting slower shutter speeds allows you to capture motion in a photograph.
These pictures are often more expressive and artistic than shots taken at shutter speeds of one thousandth of a second or more.
5) Choose the best spot.
Choosing the best place to shoot from is another important element of sports photography. You may not be able to get as close to the action as press photographers, but you can still look for a good vantage point.
Knowing the sport you’re shooting helps you to understand where most of the action will take place.
6) Protect your camera from the elements.
A sports photographer needs to be prepared to work outdoors in all weather. Even if your camera is weather resistant, long exposure to rain and moisture can lead to problems.
An external rain cover means you can work outside and not worry about expensive camera repair bills.
7) Get a good lens.
Most professional sports photographers work with a 70-200mm zoom. Longer lenses are required for some types of events.
A telephoto zoom is a great investment if you develop a real interest in sports photography.
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