Our student, Art, shot this game with us over the weekend. Since it was his second game with DC Sports Photography Academy, we tasked Art with acting as the George Washington photographer. His goal was to make GW look great during the game. We think he succeeded, don’t you agree?
There’s nothing quite as fun as watching your child enjoy learning and playing sports. As a sideline parent, you have the important job of supporting them, no matter what goes on in the game. In addition to cheering on your kids, you may want to capture some photos of them so you and your child can remember their sports days for years to come!
But sports photos are tough to catch! How many times have you tried to photograph your child mid-shot only to wind up with a blurry photo? It happens to the best of us but there are a few simple tricks you can learn to decrease the chances of blurry or low quality photos of kid’s sports.
- Increase your shutter speed and use wide aperture
Increasing your shutter speed is one of the best things to do if you want to decrease the risk of blurriness in your photo. Fast shutter speeds help you freeze the action. Selecting a wider aperture will allow for a faster shutter speed and it also creates a more shallow depth of field, which is critical when you are focusing on your player.
2. Pay attention to your surroundings
When you are framing your shot, you want to take the background into consideration. You don’t want anything distracting in the background that could distract from the subject of the photo. You may want to invest in a zoom lens to help you zoom in or you can experiment with different angles to get the best shot.
3. Get on their level
When shooting kids sports, you may need to get down on their level. After all, you want to capture their expressions and the experience as closely as possible. That can mean kneeling or crouching down to capture the photos.
4. Pay attention to light
Good or bad lighting can make your photos look spectacular or turn them a terrible mess. If shooting outdoors on a bright sunny day, always try to shoot with the sun at your back to avoid being backlit. Cloudy days are by far the best for outdoor sports. The soft nature of the light coming through the clouds means you can shoot in any direction with no issues, but remember to raise your ISO to keep your shutter speed high. Indoor lighting can be poor and can make even the best composed photos look awful. The only solution is to use a lens with a big aperture and to increase your ISO even if it ends up higher that you’d like.
5. Don’t stop shooting
Even if you’ve think you have caught the perfect shot, it might not mean that you have! Keep pressing the shutter button to try to capture as many photos as possible. You never know what you will catch! And don’t miss out on the action because you’ve taken the time to look down at your photo after you’ve taken it. You can review your photos after the game but for now, keep shooting!
6. The photos don’t have to stop when the action does.
There is more to the game then when your kid is at bat or kicking the ball. Look for moments when they are laughing with their teammate or talking to the coach or high fiving another player. Those moments are magical in sports as well and sometimes, they are even more memorable than those action photos!
Finally, perhaps more important than anything, don’t be so focused on the photos that you miss the game. Sports can be an extremely special times in a child’s life and you don’t want to miss out on the moments because you’re trying to find the right angle for the shot! Every now and then, it’s ok to put down the camera and enjoy!
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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.
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.
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.
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!