Sports photography offers many chances to get a great shot—but it also offers many chances to miss what could have been an amazing moment. When the games moves quick, a sports photographer has to be ready to click at just the right moment to get the perfect shot. Follow these ten tips to ensure that your photos are as action-packed as the subject!
1. USE A LONG LENS: 200MM PLUS.
Long lenses get you in tight and across the field and right up to the action. A 100-400 or a 150-600 both make great sports lenses. But it’s important to know your sport before deciding which lens to use. For example, football and soccer are on big fields, while most track and field events you can get closure.
2. DO NOT SHOOT IN FULLY AUTOMATIC MODE.
It’s tempting to use the “easy” button during an intense game. However, you need to have complete control of your camera for fast-paced shots, mostly in terms of shutter speed. If your camera does not have manual, aperture, and shutter priority then set it to the sports scene mode (but never settle for this if you do).
3. USE A FAST SHUTTER SPEED: 1/500 AND FASTER.
News flash: sports happen fast. Some more so than others, like bicycle racing which moves at speeds upwards of 40mph. You need a fast shutter to freeze the action and capture the moment. For fun, you can try to track (follow the action with the lens) to get a blurry background. Just remember that this takes practice and won’t end up perfect on the first shot.
4. SHOOT IN APERTURE PRIORITY.
Did you know this is what mode most pros actually shoot in? Well, now you do and it’s worth a shot. As long as you set your ISO so your shutter speed is fast enough, this mode will ensure you have the depth of field to capture ever move.
5. USE SHUTTER PRIORITY IF YOU DON’T HAVE APERTURE PRIORITY.
If aperture priority is not available, shutter priority is the next best mode to ensure you are shooting fast enough. When shooting high-speed sports like bike racing, this mode allows photographers to track & really capture the movement and speed.
6. SHOOT IN AF-C (CONTINUOUS MODE) AND SET TO BURST MODE
You want your gear to keep up with the athletes. Auto Focus continuous allows the AF to track the subject and keep them in focus as they move down field. If you have a lens with image stabilization and it has more than just an on/off button, set it to the mode that allows tracking without trying to correct the movement.
7. USE ISO TO MAKE SURE YOUR SHUTTER SPEED IS FAST ENOUGH.
Outdoor sports can be a real pain to capture during good OR bad On a bright day, using ISO 400 is a good starting point. When in aperture priority, use the ISO to get fast shutter speeds. In cloudy situations, and even under artificial lighting, go up to 1250 ISO.
8. BRING A MONOPOD TO HOLD THE WEIGHT OF THE LONG LENS.
Don’t be a hero — heros take bad pictures because they’re tired. Because games are long and long lenses are heavy, it’s always a good idea to bring a monopod. Trust us when we say you’ll be happy you did while shooting a soccer game that’s gone into penalty kicks.
9. KNOW YOUR SPORT AND FIND A POSITION THAT GIVES YOU A CLEAR VIEW.
Just knowing your way around a camera won’t ensure you’re taking the best possible sports pictures. It’s important to know the game you’re shooting so you can identify where the action will be to get the great shots and big moments. Pro tip: shooting from a low angle also helps.
10. BRING A BIG CARD AND SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT!
Then shoot some more. If you have quantity, there’s bound to be quality in there that will capture a big moment for a lifetime.
Now that you’ve got your game plan, it’s time to hit the field! Stop by Schiller’s any time to find the best products to shoot any kind of sports photography, from the season’s biggest games to the cutest little leagues.
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