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!

Photographer’s Secret: Don’t Shoot the Same Game Twice

Different photography jobs require different approaches. This is especially important in sports photography when every sport and, really, every game is unique. You can’t set up and shoot each game the same way. Sports photography is about telling a story and almost there is a new story every day. It is important to approach each game differently, depending on your assignment and the specific situation.

In other words, don’t shoot the same game twice.

We approach every game differently and that helps us capture compelling photos across different sports and games. Preparing your mindset and your plan to shoot for the game you are at instead of approaching every game the same will improve your skills and, of course, your photographs. Here are three tips for preparing for every game.

Baseball vs Xavier
Baseball vs Xavier

Understand your assignment.

This is the perhaps the most important thing to do to prepare for your next game. It’s important to understand what your client is looking for and what is important to them. Are you being hired to cover a specific team? Or are you being hired for editorial purposes? Perhaps your focus is on a specific player. If you are a team photographer, have their been underlying stories in the team all season long? Try to think about what story you are telling.

Spend some time getting in the mindset of what your client wants. If you don’t have clients, then experiment on your own. Create an assignment for yourself to practice getting in the mindset or planning for different games.

Study the game. 

This is one of the basic tenants of sports photography and it pays to brush up on the game, no matter what. Shooting a baseball game requires different legwork, different angles and different focus than shooting a lacrosse game. Track and field has a different rhythm than basketball. All of these things matter when you are setting up, preparing your shots or planning where you want to start shooting.

Study the players and the teams involved. _RS17029

You are telling a story in sports photography and you are doing more than capturing action, you are capturing moments. It’s beneficial to have a general knowledge of the players and the teams and perhaps, the stories that have been evolving in the season. Is there a specific player who is known for making big plays? Does a team have a certain pre-game ritual or celebration tradition that you want to capture? These are just some of the things you can pay attention to and try to capture but only if you know them ahead of time by doing your research!

If you are a team photographer, you probably have a really good understanding of the team you photograph on a regular basis but you might also want to get to know their opponent to see if a pitcher is known for spectacular strike outs, a goalie is known for big saves or any other skills that can translate into great action.

Athletes always prepare for their specific opponent and as a sports photographer, you should too! No two games are the same but that is part of what makes sports photography such an exciting experience and a fun challenge!

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8 Tips for Taking Photos Like a Pro – even if you are a beginner!

It takes more than a fancy camera to take really great photos. While a brand new DSLR will absolutely help improve the quality of your photos, there are some important tricks you can learn when taking the photos to give them look better. In this article we’re going to talk a little bit about the framing and composing a photo. There are no hard or fast rules but following these tips will help you to train your eyes to look for different ways to capture a photo.

The Rule of Thirds

Rule of ThirdsThis is one of the most well known composition rules in photography. The idea is to divide the camera’s frame into thirds and place key objects along those lines to improve the composition. This can help make your photos more interesting because it can help the view see more than jus the main subject.

Lines

Lines

Our eyes are naturally drawn along lines when we look at photos. Keep horizontal lines level and vertical lines straight. While this does not always lend itself to sports photography, leading lines help lead a viewer’s eyes to the picture.

 Balance

Balance

If you shoot your main subject slightly off-center to follow the rule of thirds, you can create an interesting photo. But sometimes that leaves an empty void in the scene so look for something that can “balance the “weight” of the photo, like another lesser subject that can help to balance the photo. You can also choose to make a photo unbalanced if you want to create more tension in your photos.

Patterns 

Paterns

Our eyes naturally look for patterns and so photos with patterns often quickly draw people in. Patterns are aesthetically pleasing but you can add more to the photo by having a pattern interrupted.

Eye Lines

George Mason vs St. Joseph's Women's BasketballWhen we look into a person’s face, we naturally look them in the eye. In photography a face is a strong visual weight because our eyes are drawn there first and often we look to where the eye-line is pointing. The “eye-line” is technically the implied lines produced if we were to follow a person’s line of sight.

Framing 

Framing

You can use natural objects to frame your subject, which sets your focal point apart from the image. These objects could be windows or doors or anything that creates a visual boundary around your subject, drawing the views gaze to it.

The Rule of Odds

Rule of OddsThe human eye is more comfortable with images that contain an odd number rather than even number. This is because the human eye will drift toward the center of the group and when you have an even number, the center is an empty space. So many photographers choose to follow the rule of odds.

Keep It Simple

Sometimes the simple images are the most powerful. Don’t try to get the entire scene and all of the distracting background elements in the photo. You can do this by zooming in or repositioning yourself so the background element is no longer part of the frame.

Remember, a great photographer is one who is able to see different angles of a shot and capture a moment in a unique way. Don’t be afraid to keep experimenting!

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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.

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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.

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Georgetown vs. St. John’s Men’s Lacrosse

This past weekend, DC Sports Photography Academy took our newest student to the lacrosse field to capture the Georgetown Hoyas men’s lacrosse team take on St. John’s.

Art is a music teacher at a local public school who has been enjoying sports photography as a hobby over the last year. His goal was to improve his skills so that he could have more of those “keeper” photos by learning to use his equipment better and experimenting with his photography style.

Have a look at the great shots Art took during the game!

Art will be back to shoot different sports with us later on this season and we look forward to watching his photography evolve!

At DC Sports Photography Academy, you can create the learning experience you need to learn the skills you want! Whether you shoot one game or multiple or shoot different sports or focus on one style; it’s a completely customized experience! Learn about our packages here.

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A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to ISO

Over our last few posts we have been going into detail about the different camera settings that can help make sports photos go from amateur to pro.

If you missed our posts on shutter speed or aperture, check them out here and here.

Today we are discussing ISO, which is the third piece of the puzzle for great exposure and clear photos.

ISO is the level of sensitivity the sensor in your camera has to available light. If the ISO number is lower, the sensor is less sensitive to light and if the ISO number is higher, the sensor is more sensitive to light.

So why does this matter? Because higher sensitivity can help you capture the light better in a photo. This is key when you are shooting in a low light environment, say at an outdoor sports game at dusk or indoors where you can’t use a flash.

So you may be thinking that you will always want to use a higher ISO number, especially when you can’t use your flash. But there is a downside to increase sensitivity to light. Higher sensitivity adds grain or “noise” to the photo. This is what causes photos to look fuzzy or noisy and not as sharp and crisp. It’s a little bit art and science finding the right ISO number for your photos.

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A photo where increasing the ISO too much would have made it too grainy and unusable.

Every camera has a “base” ISO number. This is usually the lowest ISO number a camera can take to produce a high quality image without adding noise. Many amateur photographers just stick with the Base ISO in all environments. The Base ISO can help you when light is ideal but when you are working in darker conditions, you will want to understand how to adjust the ISO.

ISO numbers start from the base, which is either 100 or 200 and then they double in value. The ISO sequence is 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and so on. The key thing to remember about ISO is that every time you increase the number, you double the sensitivity of the sensor. An ISO 400 is twice more sensitive than an ISO 200.

ISO works with shutter speed and aperture because the higher the ISO number, the less time the camera needs to capture the light. For instance, let’s say it takes 1 second for the camera to capture the scene at ISO 100. Well when you increase the ISO to 400, it will take 1/4 of a second to capture the scene. This is important when you are shooting subjects that are in motion. If your camera is at a lower ISO, your sensor needs a longer time to take the photo. A good rule of thumb to follow is that when you increase the ISO, you should increase your shutter speed as well.

If you are shooting on bright sunny days, you can leave your ISO at the Base ISO number or if your camera has the option, leave it at the Auto ISO. But when you are shooting in darker environments, like inside or in the evenings, you will want to increase the ISO number to help capture photos without blur.

At this point you may know that we always suggest the best way to learn about a particular setting is to experiment with it. Take the same photo using different ISO numbers to see the difference in light and graininess. Experiment in both indoor and outdoors light to get a really good feel for it!

Catch up on the rest of the posts in our series:

How To Get Started Using DSLR Camera Settings

A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to Aperture

A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to Shutter Speed

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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.

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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.

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!

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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 Build An Incredible Photography Portfolio

_CS10836If you are interested in taking your photography skills from hobby to profession, you need to have a great photography portfolio. Much like more traditional jobs have resumes and CVs, photographers need to have a portfolio to show off their work. The process of creating a portfolio can seem daunting. You may feel like you don’t have enough photos or that you need to sort through years of photographs. Perhaps you are not even sure how to get started creating your portfolio. If you want to take the step from hobbyist to professional, they you need a portfolio. Whether you are new to photography or have been shooting for years, learn how to build an amazing photography portfolio by following these tips!

Print vs. online

Before the age of the internet, photography portfolios had to be printed. But not technology has allowed for more options. With an online portfolio, you can quickly email your portfolio to potential clients or employer. However there is power in a high quality beautiful, well crafted printed portfolio. To determine what works best for you, evaluate your audience and your budget. Printed portfolios are typically a higher investment than digital portfolios but if you are frequently going to in-person interviews, then it may be more beneficial for you to have a printed portfolio.

Identify your target audience

It is important to ask yourself why are you creating your portfolio and who do you want to see it? Is your portfolio for editorial work or advertising work, for event works or are you hoping to be featured in a gallery? Do you want to only focus on a certain type of photography, such as food photography, so your target audience may not be impressed with wedding photos or portraits.

If you understand who your audience is, you can try to understand what they are looking for from a photographer and how they search for photographers. This can even help you determine if your portfolio should be printed or online.

Know your goals and choose a theme or style

It is essential that your portfolio has a goal. Why are you creating this portfolio? What type of people are you attracting to look at your portfolio? What type of photography are you interested in? What is your unique style? Perhaps you specialize in artsy black and white portraits and want your work featured in a gallery or you enjoy capturing moments during events and want to be hired as an event photographer. These two different styles would be two very different portfolios. At this point, you may have shot many different types of photos but you want to be clear on the theme and goals of your portfolio before you start choosing your photos.

Quality over quantity

Choosing photos are often the hardest part of creating a great portfolio. You do not want to use all of your photos for your portfolio. Remember that most people don’t have hours to go through your portfolio. You may also want to have a trusted friend help you with this as many photographers like to choose their favorite shots. While you will have your favorites, it can be hard for you to judge your own work. Find a friend or mentor whose judgement you trust to help you choose the very shots.

Beginning and ending

People are more likely to remember and be impacted by the first few shots and the last few shots in your portfolio. You want to pay special attention to the first few photos in your portfolio. Do they set the right tone for your portfolio? Are they going to keep your audience looking at your portfolio? Will your last photos leave a lasting impression? These are important factors in your portfolio!

Sequencing

The sequence of your portfolio can also be very important. You want the portfolio to feel like it flows naturally. The right sequence can help bring emotion to your portfolio, which can evoke a strong reaction from your audience. Strong reactions will help your audience remember your work!  You can sequence by mood, movement, color or composition.  You can choose one sequence or you can mix them in together.

Other Content in Your Portfolio

Your photos are only a part of your portfolio. If you wish, you can add more content to the portfolio to make it stronger and more memorable. You may wish to write an artist statement, which is a statement explaining your work or outlining your concept. You can also include a list of shots included, titles for shots or date and locations of the shot or a thumbnail contact sheet.

Building your portfolio can be daunting but it’s an excellent project for you to get a better idea of who you are as a photographer and the type of work you really love! If you want to add more sports photos to your portfolio, book a game with DC Sports Photography! It’s the perfect way to gain experience and photos of sporting events for your portfolio.

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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.