Faster Higher Stronger
In the build up towards the London Olympics 2012, the photos that will come out of this years games will tell the tales of victory and defeat. Sports and action photography is all about timing, access and technique. These are all qualities that makes photographers able to capture the images that fascinates us. Each sport has predictable and unpredictable moments.
By knowing these moments you can anticipate the action. The biggest problem with racing sports is the distance from the track. You will need big lenses in almost all circumstances for the race itself.
The saying goes “If you see the action, you missed it.” That means you will need the right equipment. A full frame camera body that can handle at least 5 frames per second and a fast lens can help you tremendously.
“Its not the equipment but the photographer who makes the picture” is generally a true statement. However with sports and action photography, having the wrong equipment means not getting the shots you want or need.
The shutter speed that you shoot with will be determined by how fast the lens is that you choose to shoot with. Lens speed refers to the maximum aperture diameter or minimum f stop number of a lens.
Using a monopod is a life saver with big lenses. It gives you the extra stability to get your subject in focus and it takes the weight off your arms and shoulders.
The face is the primary source of emotion in a shot and that emotion can make or break your photograph. Images of the subjects backside just don’t cut it.
For Sports photography, following the “Rule of Thirds” principle is a good idea. That will lead your subject into the frame. If you are shooting a tight portrait style shot, have the subjects head on a “Rule of Thirds” line. Its always good to fill the frame but leave some space in the direction that the player is facing.
Each sport is different in the techniques used to capture the moment and some has a limited number of unique shots. Most sport has opportunities to get “safeties” though. A safety is a photo that is easy to get and will give you something to publish if you fail to get good action.
Shoot your safeties first and concentrate on action later. You always want to come back with something.
Its very important to know the sport you are covering. You have to understand some basic fundementals of the game or you will become very frustrated. Research some of the rules so that you don’t look like a beginner.
Golf is a fairly easy game to shoot as far as action goes but it is one of the most exhausting because of the nature of the game. That means you can get good action shots if you can get there at all. I found it helps if you move against the flow of players. This way you will cover more players in less time. Always remember to press the shutter release only after the player’s club made contact with the ball. This is very important! The noises from the shutter will distract the player and you will get chased away by the officials.
Volleyball has potential for rich, colourful and dramatic photographs. Just keep in mind that as the level of competition goes up, you will be moved further and further back so try to make friends with the coaches. Volleyball shots are tricky to use auto focus on. If you are shooting from behind the lines towards the net, the AF could trigger on the net, the back of the opposing players, the back wall, or just about any point in between.
Good photo opportunities doesn’t only happen where the action lies. Emotions and “story telling” situation often unfold behind the scenes. The tense moments of hopefulness that leads to triumph or broken dreams can sometimes depict circumstances better than the obvious activities. Being creative with composition and the angles you choose to shoot from will be one of the most important factor that can separate the good sport photographers from the brilliant.
Photos by Armand Hough