Top 10 tips for Sports Photography

1) Aperture

Let’s start off with for me the most important part, your aperture! You need to shoot with as low of an aperture as possible, this is to let in as much light in as possible in a split second, this can be the difference between getting a shot worthy of anyone’s portfolio or hitting that delete button. I recommend shooting at f2.8 as; not only the fastest aperture to shoot at it but it will also give you a shallow depth of field giving you a nice blurry background.

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2) Shutter Speed

Okay so you’ve got your aperture set to f2.8, now what? Now it’s time to get that shutter speed right. Your shutter speed can vary massively depending on what your shooting and how fast the action in. If you’re shooting football a good starting point is 1/1000 dependant on the lighting, on a nice sunny day you might be able to crank that shutter speed up to 1/3200 but on a gloomier day (so most days in the UK) or under floodlights you may need to shoot at 1/800.

3) ISO

These 3 letters put shivers down photographer’s spines everywhere! If you’re just starting out you may want to leave this on AUTO but if you’re feeling adventurous you may to manually set your ISO levels. In very basic terms; the lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. This basically means, the more light there is the lower you need your ISO but the darker it is the higher the ISO you need. You want to keep that number as low as possible because a high ISO generates and causes ‘noise’, noise is not your friend! A noisy image ruins the clarity of your image but don’t be afraid to use a higher ISO when you need it underneath floodlights. It’s all about finding the right balance and experimenting to see what settings work for you and your camera.

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4) Get low!

Whenever people ask me for some advice this one of the first things I tell them, you want to be shooting at a low of an angle as possible as this will give you a more of an interesting angle to shoot at and it makes the players look more powerful. So do as the pros do and get them low angles!

5) Use a monopod

Not only will it take all the weight out of your hand it will help keep your horizon level. If you look at the image on the right you can see it looks like they’re playing up hill, using a monopod would have fixed this problem so be sure to grab yourself one to take to games.

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6) Let the action come to you

One mistake a lot of people who are starting out make is walking around trying to follow the action capturing every single moment, don’t be that guy, you’ll never be able to capture everything and quality is better than quantity. Pick your spot and let the action come to you, this way when the action comes your way you’ll be ready to get the best image possible. (Bonus tip; if it’s a sunny day try and position yourself so the sun is behind you so it lights up the players rather than shooting into the sun).

7) Shoot in burst mode

Most modern DSLR camera even at entry level have a good burst mode. This typically can range from 4,5 or 6 frames per second to 12 frames per second in the pro cameras. Shooting as many frames per second will give you a better chance at getting that money shot! I’m not saying you should just sit there and ‘pray and spray’, anticipate the action, get the player(s) in focus and when you think something interesting is going to happen then shoot! One mistake I did when I was starting out was as soon as the player looked like they were going to shoot or pass I pressed the shutter button and missed the key bits of the action. So, focus, anticipate and then shoot!

8) Fill your frame

This goes with all aspects of photography, fill your frame with as much of the subject as possible. Doing this will get rid of all that boring empty space and make your images look more visually interesting and professional.

9) Practice

You’ll be amazed how much you’ll pick up and how quick if you keep practicing and testing your skills. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try out new things.

10) Capture the event

What I mean by this is capture everything, from the ground, the fans and all the action in between! Go to each game with an open mind and capture everything about the game, set the scene for someone who has never been to the ground or photograph the ground from unique perspective, capture the atmosphere and keep experimenting with your shots.

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