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The basics of shooting professional sport images – whether at your local high school or a professional sports stadium. Sports photography can be one of the hardest forms of photography to master, but with time, patience and practice you will be creating professional looking images every time. This tutorial goes though equipment basics, composition, what to expect at the game, and post processing images.Equipment
1) A camera that has a continuous focus servo motor. The continuous focus servo will allow the camera to constantly focus on, and re-adjust focus on, a subject as they move closer and farther away from you without having to constantly half press the shutter release button. This is very good to use for any sport where the players are moving continually (i.e. football, soccer, lacrosse, etc)
2) A camera that has a continuous shutter motor. The continuous shutter motor allows the camera to take multiple photos (or frames) per second as long as the shutter button is depressed. Typical consumer cameras will be able to take three frames per second in continuous mode, whereas professional cameras will be able to take 8 frames per second or more. The ability to take multiple frames per second is crucial in capturing the climax in the action.
3) Although this isn't necessary, a lens with a constant aperture (i.e. 80-200 f/2.8), as opposed to a lens with a variable aperture (IE 70-300 f/4.5-5.6), will also make shooting sports much easier. This is because you will have more consistency in the images because the aperture wont be changing as you zoom in and out. During daytime games the ability to have a constant aperture is not as crucial as it is during night time games or indoor games.
For any sport I shoot I always take at least one camera body and a long zoom lens (i.e. 80-200 f/2.8 or 70-300 f4.5-5.6 lens). This range will give you good distance to shoot across most fields and is wide enough to capture action when it is up close. For larger sporting events I will also carry a second camera with a long prime (non-zoom).
When composing your image the first thing you want to think about is where you are shooting from. Before you start shooting you should always think to yourself "Am I in a place that will allow me to capture the best possible images?"
For any sport, being able to get on the same level as the players can dramatically improve your images. Shooting from the same level will allow you to capture player's faces, emotions, and actions better – the absolute key to a great photo.
The next thing you should consider is your background. Is your background clean, or is it cluttered and distracting? You want to find a background that doesn't have random cars, people, fences, etc. When you arrive, take the time to walk around and find a spot that will have a clean, clutter free background.
This won't always be possible, and in that case you want to find a background that is the least distracting. Some examples of clean backgrounds include woods, sky, empty fields, or if you are shooting from above the field, the field itself can provide a clean background.
Daytime, outside, sunny – 200 ISO, 1/2000, f4
Daytime outside, overcast – 400 ISO, 1/1600, f4
Night time, outside, stadium lights – 1600 ISO, 1/320, f2.8
Inside, no external speed lights – 1600 ISO, 1/400, f2.8
Inside, external speed lights – 400 ISO, 1/250, f4