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.

Action.jpg

  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.

Celebration.jpg

  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!

Sideline.jpg

  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.

Crowd.jpg

  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.

Details.jpg

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

How To Capture Great Photos In Low Light

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.

_RS23976Use 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.

guvu-1

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.

rs17489Focus

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.

Love learning about photography? Sign up to receive the latest news and resources straight to your inbox!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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

 

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.

1024px-Aperture_diagram.svg

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.

_RS16180

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.

mens lacrosse

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!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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!

If you love learning the best lessons for action and sports photography and how to use your DSLR, subscribe to receive our blog posts straight to your inbox

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.