Sports games are often indoors or in the evenings, which can make lighting less than ideal. As sports photographers, we don’t always get to choose the times or locations of our games and since flash is a big no-no in sports photography, we have to learn to capture great photos in low light.
Use Manual Mode
Hopefully you are already experiencing with using manual modes but if you have not, then low light is the time to try it. Your camera settings are not designed to help shoot action in low light so you want to take the camera off automatic mode.
Increase Your Shutter Speed
(If you haven’t read our article on shutter speed, you can do so here)
If you are using auto mode when shooting sports photos in darker conditions, the camera will automatically adjust itself to low light levels which is going to decrease the shutter speed. A slower shutter speed means that the camera has more time to let light in, which is good if you are in low light, but the problem with slow shutter speed in sports photography is that it causes blurry photos. You actually need to increase your shutter speed to decrease the possibility of blur. Yes, that means the camera might have harder time letting in light in such a short amount of time but we’re about to handle that.
Increase Your ISO
(If you haven’t read our article on ISO, you can do so here)
The higher your ISO is, the more sensitive it is to light, which means it will capture more light in your photo. The flip side of this is, of course, that the higher the ISO, the grainier or noisier the photo will be. Every camera is different so you should take some test shots with higher ISOs to see what the limit is before your camera starts shooting grainy photos.
Open Your Aperture
Open up your aperture to the widest opening your lens has. That means more light will pass through the lens into your camera. Since you don’t have a lot of light to begin with, opening up your aperture will help you maximize the light you do have. Be aware that even opening up your lens to its biggest setting might still not allow enough light to come in if you’re using a slow lens.
Use a Faster Lens
If you know you are frequently going to be shooting sports or action photography in low light, you may want to invest in a faster lens that will allow for faster shutter speed and wide apertures to help improve your photos.
The focus is an important to note when shooting in low light. When you are shooting with a wide aperture, your depth of field can decrease to very shallow depths. That means perfect focus on your subject is even more critical at night because of your limited depth of field.
Conditions are not always ideal for photographing but that does not mean you still can’t capture high quality photos in low light.
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