Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sports Photography Tips

If youve ever tried capturing fast moving sports action with your digital camera, you may have ended up frustrated and confused about why the pictures didnt turn out so hot. There are some common mistakes beginner photographers make when shooting sports, and its not overly easy for many professionals to do either, but dont despair. There are several tips that might help you get better sports action shots in the future.

The first thing you need to realize is: Not all of your pictures will turn out just right. I was recently at my sons high school football game, and took over 400 pictures before the third quarter was finished. Of those 400 though, only about 40 were exellent, and roughly 75-100 were good enough to keep.

Thankfully that is one of the beauties of using digital cameras: You dont have to waste expensive film while youre learning. Instead, when you come across any pictures that didnt turn out well, you can simply delete them to make room for new ones.

With that said, lets get in to some useful tips.

Because sports photography is quite fast paced, youll need to start with a lot of light. If youre trying to take pictures of an indoor basketball or volleyball game, you may have problems getting good pictures. If you have a very strong flash for your camera, that will help quite a bit. Many point and shoot digital cameras dont have strong enough flash for this, especially when parents tend to try taking the pictures from the stands which are a bit too far away from all the action.

So try getting closer. See if youre able to stand at the edge of the court, or maybe right behind the basket if youre at a basketball game. Then set your camera on sports mode - this will look like a little running man icon on a control dial of your camera - and make sure your flash is turned on. These settings will help your camera give you the best settings it can in your currently lighting conditions, and if all goes well youll get some great action shots in the end.

If youre taking action shots outside, things are much easier... particularly if theres bright sunlight. The more light you have available when taking your pictures, the better youll be able to stop the action in your pictures.

Again put your camera into sports mode, and again try to get as close to the action as you can. Position yourself behind the goal posts at a soccer or football game, or close to one of the sides if thats the best you can do. Just pick one spot and wait for the play to come your way. There will be times where all the action is too far away from you, but wait a little while and it usually comes close to every part of the playing field.

Even if you have bright sunlight to shoot in, you can still use your cameras flash too. Keep in mind that it might not be strong enough to reach too far, and if thats the case it wont do you much good. If however, you get to take a picture of a tackle taking place 5 feet in front of you, the flash will usually be able to light the scene at that distance.

If you know how to use your camera in manual or semi-manual mode, youll want to control the shutter speeds in order to catch the action in sports. A shutter speed of at least 1/500 or higher usually does the trick nicely.
About the author: © 2006, Kathy Burns-Millyard.

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