"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. "
- Frederick Douglass
Sports photography is a laborious field, especially for those who enjoy living a challenging and enthusiastic living each day. But let me tell you that there are these irrefutable know-hows of this discipline that you need to absorb as early as possible in order to reach the highest summit. Of course, these aren’t any strict rules but recommended takeaways which might help you. Apart from that, you can also draw a few insights with your experience from food photography, nature photography, etc.
It is important to understand that you wouldn’t have a long way to go and wouldn’t survive if you copy or duplicate someone’s style of sport’s photography. You need to develop a style of your own that people would love to copy but can’t!
Well, I know what’s on your mind now, “Okay cool, but how?”
So, let’s embark by asking ourselves the following questions.
What do I wish and choose to shoot?
There is absolutely no point in choosing something that is not your cup of tea. Know the stage you are at in your career. If you are a newbie, aim for shooting easy sports to lean. Initially, you must make a list of ten best sports to learn which would be a combination of your choice and simplicity. Whichever sport you aim to shoot next, make sure you know the general rules of game well. By doing so, you would be knowledgeable of the crucial moves of the player(s) and would be able to shoot exceptional.
Do I have the best spot to shoot from?
While you are on the field to shoot the sport, get the right information as to where on the field you are allowed to be. Once you know this, visit the place and check what backgrounds are best for you in various directions. Having a cheering crowd in the background is a great idea if there aren’t any high contrast points or light-reflecting surfaces.
When to focus where?
Here comes the importance of rules in games. By mastering the game rules, you would know exactly which area of the sportsman’s body or which area of the ground should be in your focus. If it is a solo game, you must primarily focus on the subject’s eyes. But in the latter stages of the game, depending upon what game you are shooting, you would need to move the focus at the precise area. Don’t forget to capture emotions in games, because that’s where the heart lies!
To keep things rolling smoothly during your shoot, it is recommended that you know the hardware of your camera perfectly. The back button focus for photography is to be mastered thoroughly.
Do I understand and master autofocus and subject tracking?
Apart from knowing the usage of camera back button focus, these two techniques are going to pave the way to brilliance. When it comes to sports photography, using autofocus and subject tracking is fundamental. Autofocus helps the photographer to make the subject sharp, while the subject tracking ensures that the selected subject stays in focus constantly. It is recommended to use face detection in sports with a larger moving span of the subject(s) (e.g. Boxing), while 3D tracking can be used for sports with a shorter moving span of the subject(s) (e.g. Gymnastics).
What’s the right shutter speed for the sport?
Having the shutter speed too slow or too fast is both going to spoil the whole photography game. The best shutter speed for sports photography is typically between 1/400 seconds to 1/1600 seconds. You might increase it to around 1/2000 if there is a need to capture minute details of the sports (e.g. water droplets, etc.). By using the right shutter speed for sports photography, it also results in capturing true emotion photography.
So, are you ready for your next sports photography shoot?
I am sure, you are!
All the best!!!