For the digital photographer, capturing an action shot of any kind is a challenge. Consumer-level cameras are made to snap still images of your loved ones, not catch the winning car crossing the finish line at the Indianapolis 500 or a surfer in an incredibly fast barrel in such detail that you can see droplets of water on his nose. But with patience, skill, and a little luck, you can pull in a winning shot or two of most sporting events. Herein, some tips:
As you probably already know, a high shutter speed in important. The absolute slowest you will need is one 500th of a second, which will be passable for the average line tackle or pole vault. For higher-speed motion, you will want speeds of one 1000th of a second or higher. A fast baseball pitch is going about 145 kilometers (90 miles) per hour, and that calls for a shutter speed of one 4000th to get that ‘suspended ball in mid air’ type of photo. Just for reference, that Indy 500 car I talked about would have to be doing 354 kilometers (220 miles) per hour, so it’s probably out of your league… pun intended!
Of course, the high-speed shutter means you will have to have a higher ISO, since you won’t get much chance to record light. And things get even more difficult in poor lighting conditions, like an indoor night shot. A stadium will usually be well lit, but the lights there don’t make our job much easier since they kill color and will give you a lot of glare right by them and stark high-contrast shadows everywhere else.
If you have a light tool on your digital camera such as a histogram, the sensor will give you a good idea of what the light levels are. that way you can adjust the ISO on the spot. The ideal ISO is 400 or higher. But, whoops, that’s going to result in a noisy image… and that’s unavoidable. It’s up to your mighty friend Mr. Photoshop to remove noise after the fact. With that in mind, be aware that a good graphics editing tool can remove noise from images which were taken at 800 and even 1600 ISO.
Use burst mode, also known as ‘continuous shooting’. This mode allows you to get a sequence of shoots in rapid succession. You can increase your chances of getting that ideal perfect shot in one split second amidst the series of bursts. If at all possible, try to get a camera that can do 12 frames per second or higher.
Using a telephoto lens will bring you closer to the action because of its long-distance capability, since we can’t all afford front-row seats. You will need an even faster shutter speed for this, however.
In fact, if you intend to do a lot of sports photography, you will be better off getting the most cutting-edge equipment you can find and afford. the best digital sports photos are taken with an emphasis on a very fast shutter speed. They might use an f stop close to the 2.8 mark to blur the background and focus in on the subject. If your subject is visually separated from the background and you take the digital photograph with a telephoto lens, you’ll get a more shallow depth of field. You might think you can get away with a good optical zoom lens, but actually the better digital sports shots are taken with a proper telephoto.
Of course, finding good subjects will be the least of your challenges. Sports photography is exciting because for once you don’t have to ask for your subjects to show emotion for the camera. The grunt of effort and flex of muscle when swinging a bat, the look of panic when the tennis player almost misses returning a volley, and gasp for air as a swimmer crosses the finish line a nose ahead of her rivals, all of these will be happening right in front of you. In the right place at the right time, you might even be able to make some money with your amazingly lucky shots! Contributed by Amy Renfrey
I looked around and I think this guide (link below) is the best piece of instructional content for action sports photography at the time of writing this. I noticed they are prepared to be contacted for extra assistance too. Not many suppliers will go to those lengths these days. Also, they have an extract you can download which gives you an idea of the content you would receive after purchase. If you’re considering making a business from sports or action photography or just improving existing skills, you should read this specific and dedicated guide to sports photography which you can purchase and download now.
P.S. For little league photographers – How to Shoot and Sell Little League Action Photos and Other Youth Sports
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