George Mason vs Penn State Men’s Basketball

New student Betsy Upton reached out to us to improve her sports photography so she could capture better photos of her son playing basketball and baseball. She already owned the proper equipment with a full frame Nikon body and a pro level 70-200mm lens, but she couldn’t figure out why all her images were coming out yellow and blurry.

After sitting down with her and going over her settings, she admited that she was setting the camera in sports mode and letting the camera do all the work for her. After a quick lesson in white balance and how to set up the camera in manual mode, we headed out on the floor to shoot the George Mason vs Penn State basketball game.

Judging by her photos, she seems to have learned how to set up her camera properly and after she game she told me how she couldn’t wait for her son’s first game of the year to use everything she learned.

Great job Betsy!

A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to Aperture

We’ve talked about camera settings and how to take better action photos but if you want to take your photography skills to next level, you will want to get to know a few key settings. Over the next few posts, we will be taking a deeper dive into some of the important techniques and settings in sports photography.

We begin with one of the most talked about subjects in photography, aperture. Aperture is the opening in the lens through which light travels through. The size of the opening can be adjusted to let more or less light in. The larger the aperture, the more light hits the sensor and the smaller the aperture, the less light will hit the sensor.

It might be easier to think about the aperture like the pupil of a human eye. The iris of your eye (which is the colored part of your eye around the pupil) expands and contracts, controlling the size of the pupil. The smaller the pupil, the less light can hit the retina. The camera works in a very similar way. The smaller the aperture, the less light that can hit the sensor.

The aperture is measured in f-stops. When you change the f-stop on your settings, you change the size of the opening in the camera. Here is the tricky part of aperture that might take some getting used to: the higher the f-stop number is, the smaller the opening. The smaller the f-stop is, the larger the opening.

This image from Wikipedia gives a look at f-stops. The size of the circle represents the size of the lens of the aperture. As you can see, the larger f-stop number, f/8, has a smaller aperture.

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It might take some practice remembering that but for now just remember that the larger the number, the smaller the opening.

So how does aperture effect a photo? The aperture controls the depth of field of a photo, which is the amount of the photo that is in sharp focus. Have you ever seen a photo where the background of the photo is slightly blurred but the subject in the foreground is in sharp focus? That’s a shallow depth of field. A large depth of field is when the the entire scene is in sharp focus.

Let’s look at some examples. In this photo, there is a small or narrow depth of field, as the players are in focus but the fans and the fans are out of focus.

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But in this photo, there is larger or wider depth of field. Even the players in the back are just as much in focus as the players closer to the camera.

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The difference of these two photos depend on the aperture. So how can you change the aperture and create these different photos?

First you want to find the aperture of your lens. All lenses have a maximum and minimum aperture size and you will find these sizes printed on your lens. Older lenses have an aperture ring that you need to turn to adjust the aperture. You will see the numbers on the lens and you will adjust the ring to match the aperture you would like to set.

However, most modern don’t have aperture rings and instead, you set the aperture in the camera. The aperture can be set in Manual or Aperture priority mode. Aperture is designated on your screen as the number with the F in front of it.

Once you have found the right mode and adjusted the aperture, you can experiment shooting in different f-stops to capture different depth of field. Remember, if you want a particular subject to be in sharp focus, you would use a smaller aperture number. This isolates the foreground from the background making the foreground objects look sharper and the background blurred.

But if you want a wide or large depth of field, where most of the photo is in focus, like in the second photo, you would use a larger aperture number. This allows the image be in sharp focus from front to back with no blur.

Aperture also works together with shutter speed and ISO to create exposure but we’ll talk about that in a future post. For now, we recommend experimenting with the different aperture sizes to see how it makes a difference in your photos.

Be sure to check back for more blogs about the different camera settings for great sports photography or sign up to receive our blogs by email!

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Using Wide Angle Lenses in Sports Photography

Sports is normally shot with a long zoom to bring the action closer to the viewer, but what if you want to bring the viewer to the action?

A wide angle lens is perfect for this. Because of its short focal length, a wide angle lens requires the photographer to get up-close-and-personal with their subject, therefore bringing the viewer along with them. In the photo below, we caught our expert teacher, Rafael, shooting with his wide angle lens.

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Wide angle lenses will add depth to the photo. They help you keep everything with the frame in sharp focus and the view from a wide angle lens will make the viewers feel like they are part of the action. Can’t you feel the action in this photo? That’s because we were shooting with a wide angle lens!

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Wide angle lenses are about capturing close up moments and being a part of the action. To use a wide angle lens correctly, we recommend getting as close as possible to the action. You want to be sure you are focusing the camera on your subjects. Sometimes this means getting low and down where the action is! This will create depth and help your subjects stand out in the photo in a way that draws the viewer into the moment. An example is the photo below, you truly feel as if you are in the circle with the team.

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With more elite sports, you may not be able to get into the action to practice shooting with the wide angle lens. However, if you are shooting youth sports, there are plenty of opportunities to get near the action and practice shooting wide angle. Have a photo that you took with a wide angle lens? We’d love to see it! Tag us in it on our Instagram or Facebook @DCSportsPhotographyAcademy.

If you would like to invest in a wide angle zoom lens, you have many options. Here are some of the excellent wide angle zoom lenses for Canon and Nikon cameras!

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How to Use Remote Cameras for Sports Photography

This month, photographers all across the country are setting up their gear to get the best photos during March Madness. If you have ever shot a sporting event, you probably already know how hard it can be to cover every angle possible. Especially in high level, fast-paced games like the basketball games during March Madness. That’s why photographers use remote cameras.

sports remote cameraRemote cameras allow photographers to shoot multiple areas of the game, race or match, without actually being there. It also offers a way to achieve multiple angles that photographers often cannot achieve on their own.

If you want to get started using remote cameras, there are a few things you should know. First you have to ensure you have the right camera. Not every camera will work as a remote camera. You need to have a specific port to plug in a PocketWizard. A PocketWizard acts as a switch that allows you to trigger the camera.

You will need two PocketWizards for remote cameras. One attaches to the remote camera and the other is used to trigger the remote. The second PocketWizard can be connected to a handheld camera or it can be used as a standalone transmitter.

Finally you will need a bracket or floor plate that will attach to the remote camera. It is essential that you receive permission from the building or the referees before you mount a remote. You want to ensure that it’s in a safe space and is not a hazard to the players or interfere with the game. Not only will this save you from interference and losing the job, but also from damaging your camera!

Once you have all your gear and permission from the building to set up a remote camera, you need to find the right place to set up your remote camera. You want to think where the action is going to occur and the different about the angles you can capture.

remote camera how toMany sports photographers choose the point of major action to set up their remote cameras. For example, in hockey you may want to set up a camera above one of the goals to get a overhead shot. In basketball, behind the hoop is a great way to capture really great action photos.

You can also choose to set up your remote camera fro
m above to try and capture the full view of the game, which would be impossible to catch from your spot on the floor.

Or maybe you want more options and angles of shots. For example, setting up a camera on the floor, while you’re on the other side of the court. Or setting up a remote camera behind a lacrosse goal while you’re on the other side of it, to give both perspectives of shots.

_RCS0261No matter where you choose to set up your remote camera or how you choose to use it, they can be invaluable tools if you want to advance your sports photography career.

The next time you are browsing through sports photos, take a look at the different angles to determine if a remote camera is used and where it was set up to give you a better feel for how photographers use remote cameras for high profile games.

For more step by step instructions, check out this video by Imaging Resource on how to mount a remote camera here.

Georgetown vs Providence Women’s Basketball

Last week Georgetown Women’s basketball took on Providence Women’s basketball and DC Sports Photography Academy was there to capture it! Our student Rajani had experience with photographing still life portraits, social events and parties but he wanted to enhance his skills and build a sports photography portfolio.

One of the areas we focused on during this game was the art of keeping up with the speed of the game. It can be tricky in sports photography to stay on top of all of the action. It is key to keep people in focus and compose the shot properly.

Over the course of this game, Rajani was able to keep up with the fast-paced and captured some incredible photos!

The Hoyas also scored a win, defeating their opponent 72-70 in overtime! Nothing like an overtime game to help you learn how to manage the fast pace of sports photography.

Take a look at the amazing photos our student took below!

Want to be a sports photography pro too? We have packages and prices for all skill levels available!

George Mason vs Saint Louis Men’s Basketball

Michael wanted to experience a basketball game from a photographer’s point of view after spending a couple of years working for a women’s team as a manager. Having a bit of photo equipment, he decided to use his camera and a couple of lenses and have some fun.

This is a great example of how using a slow lens (f/5.6) and a cropped sensor camera affects the quality of your photos. Because the lens is not allowing as much light to enter, Michael had to compensate by bumping up the ISO to 6400 and dropping his shutter speed. This created images with motion blur and a high level of noise.

George Mason vs George Washington Women’s Basketball

Jenni recently graduated from high school and is looking to improve on the sports photography skills she learned while in school. She wanted to play with alternative angles, so she grabbed a 300mm lens and headed up the the concourse level to shoot. It’s a great vantage point for basketball and she made the most of her opportunity.

She had a blast shooting the game and is interested in covering more games with DC Sports Photography Academy.

George Mason vs George Washington Women’s Basketball

Bill decided to take a long break between games but his photos show that he didn’t miss a beat. It’s a great mixture of loose and tight shots for both teams.

I hope had a great time with DC Sports Photography Academy and I’d love to see him out on the sidelines again sometime soon.

Georgetown vs Marquette Women’s Basketball

Feeling a bit more comfortable with the speed of college basketball games, Charles’ next game had him take on the role of the team photographer for the Marquette Golden Eagles. He seems to have gotten a better idea of what to shoot with only having to deal with one team. By only having to deal with five players instead of ten, he was able to pick out some details that he missed on his first outing.

Georgetown vs DePaul Women’s Basketball

As with most photographers that try to move to sports from other photographic genres, they realize that it’s a different beast than what they are used to. Charles is an experienced photographer, so we were able to skip the camera set up lessons and the basics of settings and move right into covering the game.

The biggest stumbling block we encountered was proper focus. It takes a lot of practice to be able to get consistently sharp focus shot after shot and it was immediately clear that Charles needed some work. Stationary people were no problem, but once they got moving, sharp focus was harder to achieve. Better results will come from more practice.

With two more games to practice with, let’s see if we can sort out the focus issues and make bigger strides in capturing great basketball photos.