Sports photography can be an absolute thrill. The energy in the field is electrifying, and you never know when you’d come across that flabbergasting soccer kick or that buzzer beating 3-point shot. Being able to capture these priceless sports photos is hands-down one of the coolest talents to have. Capturing the live mix of action, passion, and emotion on the school sports ground can be a little more than “challenging.” But the outcome, however, is well worth the effort. Read on to learn how you can ramp up your photography game when snapping the unpredictability and swiftness of live sports.
Experiment with the Shutter Speed
Setting the right shutter speed to capture the action is critical for any live photography. Typically, different sports require different shutter speeds. For instance, the speed 1/500th would be perfect to freeze the best moments in a school soccer game. For freezing a baseball in mid-flight, on the other hand, you will have to speed up to 1/1000th or 1/2000th.
To capture the real speed and movement of the game, you might want to try bringing down your shutter speed alongside panning your camera. Of course, you can’t be the Picasso of photography in just a day. But constant practice will help you get those pro-level photographs that show off the coolest directional blurs. Try using a wide aperture (f/4 or lower) to get rid of the background noises and let the players rule the frame instead.
Pierce Through the Action
To capture a memorable shot, try bringing the viewer as close to the game as possible. An ideal lens to accomplish this would be a 70 – 200mm or something a little longer like a 100 – 400mm. But no big deal if you don’t own these lenses – just close in on the field as much as you can to trap the action inside the camera.
Live photography is all about the perspective – a shot with a full zoom might look entirely different from a wide shot. Try varying your shots to find the right perspective for specific live-action moments.
Try zooming in as much as possible to where the real action happens to make your subjects come to life and freeze some priceless expressions – from the glow of victory to the gloom of defeat, you might just capture your “best shot yet”.
Get your Shoot Spots Ready
Do your homework before the game begins. Take a walk around the field, track, or gym. Then, let your creativity come up with interesting options and angles. The ideal spot will have a pleasant background (no trashcans) and have a great view of the action as it approaches you.
Avoid shooting from the sidelines – it might kill your photograph’s story. Instead, try placing yourself where you can see the playing teams coming toward your direction.
Focus on the Camera Focus
You’ve set your shutter speed, and your composition is perfect. But if you’ve forgotten to set the camera focus, your shots might end up screaming of visual noise.
Set your camera to use focus tracking, known typically as Continuous AF or AI Servo, this setting lets your camera track your subject as they move so they are always in focus.
Once your autofocus is set, all you need to do is depress the shutter half way to activate tracking. Keep the shutter depressed halfway until you are ready to take the shot and then depress it all the way to shoot.
A great hack for precise live sports photography is to use the back button to activate camera focus. This method lets you effortlessly activate focus with your thumb without accidentally taking a picture.
It’s All About the Right Moment
The live sports photography essential – burst mode – will increase your chances of capturing difficult (and almost impossible) shots. But use it sparingly when the action is fast and you feel the perfect frame will be hard to time because it comes with a catch – you end up having an impossible number of unnecessary shots to sort through.
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