5 Fantastic Sports Photography Shots

There’s a level of creativity in every type of photography. From portraits to landscape, the best photographers are the ones who are able to see the details and take a new view of something.

This rule applies for sports photography. We know that when you are a new photographer, it can be hard to get a good range of photos. Everything comes down to practice and when you are beginning your sports photography hobby or career, you’ll want to practice taking lots of photos.

We’ve even talked about the three types of sports photos but we wanted to give you an idea of some shots to look for during your sporting events so you can start taking different types of photos and improving your skills

  1. The action shot

We all know this shot but it’s often the hardest one to get because you never quite know when action is going to pop up. But there are a few places you can strategically place yourself to try and catch the action. The action usually takes place near the key areas of the game. So you’ll want to position yourself near the goal, hoop or home plate. Sometimes you may have to anticipate the play. For example, maybe you are shooting first base but see a play developing at home so you may need to run to get to home! The key is to keep shooting and anticipating action.

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  1. The celebration shot

These are some of the best photos. They are that moment right after the game buzzer or right after the goal. Not only will you want to be positioned somewhere strategically near the action but you want to pay attention to the facial expressions of the players. Try to zoom in as much as possible. What is key to remember with the celebration shot is to keep shooting after the goal or the play. That’s when you’ll get these great photos.

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  1. The sideline shot

The action is not always on the field. The sidelines can tell quite a story about a game. While you are shooting, be sure to pan toward the sidelines. It can be especially powerful to do so during moments just before the action shot. For example, if a player is about to step up to shoot a foul shot at the end of the game or a batter is getting ready to swing when their team has two outs. You can often catch the intensity or excitement on the sidelines. Sidelines also make for great celebration shots!

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  1. The crowd shot

The players are not the only ones who are part of the game. The fans in the stand can make for great subjects of your photos! Your photos should capture the feeling of the game and fans can play a big part in that feeling. You can often catch great crowd photos during time outs or between innings.

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  1. The details shot

These are often the graphical photos that we talk about this post. They are the details photos and you can get very creative with them! For example, the cleats of the players lined up in the dug out or the lacrosse stick laying against the team bench. These photos can serve as excellent opportunities to improve your technical skills when you aren’t trying to catch a certain moment or play.

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The next time you are photographing a game, try to experiment with taking at least one of these photos!

A Guide to Lenses for Your DSLR

StockSnap_9AXI43044HIf you want to improve your photography skills, you will want to make the most out of your equipment. This includes knowing the right lens for your photos! A good camera lens can make a big difference in the look of your photos. There is no one right answer to which lens you should buy for your camera but it’s important to understand the difference between different lenses. Always try and use the best lens for the job at hand. Here are the most common lenses and how you should use them:

Standard Lenses –

If you recently purchased a DSLR, it might have come with a starter or kit lens. These are typically standard lenses. Standard lenses have an angle of view that is similar to a human eye so they take photos that appear natural. Standard lenses can be used for many different types of photos, from street photography to landscape or portrait.

Macro Lenses –

Macro lenses were designed for close-up photography. Many macro lenses produce a 1:1 image, which means the subject is reproduced on the camera sensor at life-size, providing plenty of detail for the photo. They that give great image sharpness and contrast and create eye-catching photos. Macro lenses are ideal for shooting smaller subjects like flowers or insects.

Telephoto and Super Telephoto Lenses –

Telephoto lenses have long local lengths over 70 mm. They help you photograph subjects that are farther away. Telephoto lenses focus on a narrower field of view and can bring far away subjects much closer. Telephoto lenses are often bigger and heavier than other lenses and are most frequently used for shooting wildlife or sporting events.

Wide Angle Lenses –

Wide angle lenses have shorter focal lengths, between 24mm and 35 mm. They provide an angle of view that is beyond a standard lenses so they can capture more of a scene in a single shot. Wide angles magnify the perceived distance between subjects in the foreground and background and can give an exaggeration of lines and curves in photos. Many people use wide angle lenses for landscape photos or when they are trying to get a large subject into a frame, like photographing a large group of people.

We also want you to know the difference between prime lenses and zoom lenses, just to help make your shopping easier!

Prime Lenses vs. Zoom Lenses-

A prime lens is one with a fixed focal length. You can get prime lenses in various focal lengths, from wide-angle to telephoto. A zoom lens is one that can be zoomed in or out providing different focal lengths. Prime lenses typically have wider apertures, which gives them better low-light performance and they have a better optical quality than zooms. But zoom lenses provide more flexibility in their ability to shoot at different focal lengths but at slower apertures.

The right lens depends on your photography subjects and your level of experience. You should shop around to find the right lens for your photos.

You can find any of these lenses at your local camera store or Amazon.

Interested in learning more about cameras and camera equipment! Check out these posts:
So You Got a Fancy New DSLR Camera… Now What?!
How to Get Started Using your DSLR Camera Settings
Using Wide Angle Lenses in Sports Photography
How to Find the Best Camera Equipment for Sports Photography

 

So You Got A Fancy New DSLR Camera… Now What?!

jeshoots-com-219059You have probably been thinking about getting a DSLR camera for a while now. Maybe you want to capture special moments in your family’s lives. Maybe you have always had a photographer’s eye and want to improve your skills. For whatever reason, you have made the investment in a beautiful new DSLR camera and now… you have no idea what to do with it. There are so many dials and functions and your owner’s manual seems like its written in a different language. Does this sound familiar?

Before you shove the manual in a box, set your camera to “Auto,” we have some tips for getting started with your new DSLR camera.

So if you just got your DSLR and are not completely sure what to do to start making the most of your investment, then you need to follow these steps!

  1. Get the right memory card for your camera

Most cameras do not come with built in storage so you will definitely want to save all of the incredible photos you take with your new camera! DSLRs can accept Compact Flash (CF) and Secure Digital (SD) cards. There are several versions of SD Cards: SD, SDHC and SDXC. SDHC stands for High Capacity, usually between 2 and 32 Gigabytes. The SDXC has an even higher storage capacity, up to 2 terabytes. CF cards are bigger in physical size and they use flash memory to record data. You can find CF cards with storage space from 2 GB to 128GB. You will want to check your manual to find the right memory card for your camera.

You will want to pay attention to the storage space of your memory card as well. Be sure to consider the amount of data a memory card can hold. DSLRs typically produce images that have larger file sizes than point and shoot cameras so you want to make sure your card can store your images. As you can see above, you have plenty of options when it comes to the size of your memory card. Determine how often you are going to use your camera and how much space you really need.

Finally you want to look at the speed and class of the memory card. Class ratings determine how fast data can be written to your card. Classes range from 2-10, with 10 being the fastest. A Class 10 card can write at least 10MB/second, while Class 4 card can write 4MB/second. The speed is important because the faster your can write data, the more photos you can take in a row. Sports photographers usually need faster speed memory card because of the fast pace of the action.

2. Understand the difference between RAW and JPEG photos

DSLRs can save images in two different formats: RAW and JPEG. JPEG photos are processed and compressed in the camera.  The processing means that the camera automatically adjusts for contrast, brightness, noise reduction and sharpness.These files are finished and can be printed immediately after the shot. and RAW photos are unprocessed or uncompressed and therefore not ready for print immediately. RAW photos will usually look flat and dark when they are taken. They need to be processed by software. RAW photos are usually bigger file sizes and take up more space but if you prefer to do editing in Lightroom or Photoshop, RAW is usually a better option for your photos. Whether you choose to use RAW or JPG files, it’s up to you. That all depends on how much editing you prefer to do. However, it is important to note that if you are using your camera for sports photography and shooting burst sequences, you will be able to shoot more photos with the JPEG format.

3. Practice with your manual setting.

The dials and settings can feel overwhelming in a DSLR but they will help you to shoot better photos. It can be really easy to just set your camera on automatic mode and start shooting but we can guarantee you will have a higher quality of photos and feel more experienced as a photographer if you take the time to learn about manual settings. You will want to understand aperture, shutter speed and ISO to help you shoot better photos (We wrote a blog post explaining your camera settings here!)

4. Read the manual (or at least skim it)

We know that the manual to your camera is not the most entertaining thing to read and it is much less fun than actually using your camera. However, the manual will explain the technical parts of your camera to you so you can understand its full capabilities.

5. Experiment without using the flash

We recommend not using the internal flash on your DSLR. They often take unflattering photos and don’t always achieve the look you were going for. If you are using your camera for sports photography, you absolutely should not use your flash as it’s distracting to athletes. Luckily camera manufacturers have been improving cameras so that you can take better photos in low light. You can experiment with increasing your ISO and shooting without the flash to learn how to capture sharp and well-exposed photos without the internal flash.

6. Shoot lots of different subjects and shoot often

You can learn a lot about photography and your own personal interests by experimenting with different types of photos. Maybe you purchased your camera to capture fantastic landscape photos for an upcoming vacation. You can improve your skills by experimenting with shooting events or action photos. Or if you purchased your camera to shoot your children’s athletics, you can experiment with shooting portraits. Shoot often and shoot a variety of subjects. This will help you get more comfortable with your camera!

Most importantly, have fun! You probably purchased a new DSLR camera because you enjoy photography and you want to improve your skills. You don’t need to feel like a pro overnight. Take time to just have fun using your camera and enjoying learning a new skill!

Are you in the DC area and interested in taking your photography skills to the next level? Learn about our interactive sports photography classes! 

How to Get Started Using DSLR Camera Settings

StockSnap_4CLVYHVZ2LIf you recently purchased a fancy new DSLR or you are thinking about making the investment, you might feel overwhelmed at all the options and settings on it. Too many amateur photographers invest in great cameras but stick with the automatic mode and never learn how to properly use their camera. The advanced settings and modes in your DSLR camera were designed to help you shoot even better photos. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t understand what all the buttons on your camera mean, this article will explain the basic camera settings in your DSLR.

  1. Aperture

Aperture can seem confusing at first but it’s an important concept to understand for photographers. If you look at your lens, there is a circular opening where light comes through. The aperture settings control the size of that opening. If you widen the aperture, the opening will get larger and more light will be allowed in. If you narrow the aperture, the opening will get smaller and the less light you let in. If you narrow the aperture, more of the photograph will appear to be in focus. If you widen the aperture, less of the photograph will be in focus.

The important thing to know about aperture is that it’s represented in numbers called f-stops and that if the number is lower, it is a wider aperture and lets in more light. If the number is higher, it’s a narrow aperture and lets in less light. For example, a small f-stop, such as f/2 lets in more light than f/8.

You want to think about the lighting and exposure in a photo, as well as, the focus of the photo when you are experimenting with aperture. If it’s an extremely sunny day, you will probably want to use a higher f-stop so that you don’t let in too much light and over-expose the image. But on a darker evening, you will want to let more light in and use a lower f-stop. Read our in-depth beginner’s guide to aperture here.

2. Shutter Speed

The shutter speed refers to the amount of time it takes for the aperture blades to close to take a photo. It is usually just a fraction of a second. Shutter speed and aperture go hand in hand to creating a well lit, properly exposed shot. When you set the aperture and push the shutter-release button, the shutter will open and close allowing light to strike the sensor for a certain length of time.

Generally, you want to use a faster shutter speed, especially if you are shooting action shots. A faster shutter speed can help you capture the very instant of action.

However, you may want to shoot with a slower shutter speed if you are feeling creative and you want an intentionally blurred or overexposed photo. For example if you wanted to blur the fans in the background of a track meet, you would use a slower shutter speed while panning along with the runner.

3. Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority ModesStockSnap_HBBR93DVH6

Now that you understand shutter speed and aperture, you can understand these two modes in your camera. Aperture Priority is designated as Av or A on your camera dial and Shutter Priority is designated as Tv or S. These separate modes are often referred to as “semi-automatic” shooting modes.

In Aperture priority mode, you as the photographer will chose the aperture value and the camera will automatically set the shutter speed. In Shutter Priority mode, you choose the shutter speed and the camera will automatically set the aperture.

When you want to experiment with depth of field or motion blurs or action photography, we recommend experimenting in these two modes. If you want to have everything in focus or practice with background blur, use Aperture Priority. If you are working on action photography, use Shutter Priority. They can help you learn and feel more comfortable with aperture and shutter speed while still allowing the camera to do some of the work.

4. ISO

ISO measures how sensitive the camera is to light. It essentially controls the amount of light required by the sensor to achieve a certain exposure or brightness in your photo. Low ISO settings require more light to achieve an exposure. Generally if there is a lot of light already, say you are shooting outside on a bright sunny day, you will only need a low ISO number. But if you shoot in darker conditions, such as inside or in the evening, you will need a higher ISO number.  The important thing to remember when using high ISO number is that the higher the ISO, the grainier or noisier the photo will be. Most DSLRs have an “auto-ISO function,” which is very useful for new photographers.

5. Focus

You want to make sure that the subject of your photo is in focus, no matter what settings you use. DSLRs come with auto-focus modes, making it easy for you to set your focus. Focus modes rely on focus points in your camera. When you look through your viewfinder, you will see a number of squares or dots across the screen. When you press your shutter halfway down, one of these squares will be highlighted in red. That means it is the active focus point of the shot.

This is an overview of your camera settings and it should help you get started feeling comfortable with your camera.

We always suggest that you keep practicing with your camera and experimenting with different modes and settings. The more you play with your camera, the more you will improve!

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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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