Updated: Oct 20, 2019
Athletics is full of emotion, which is what makes sport photography so great. Capturing a championship celebration, the look of defeat after an impactful loss, the triumph from a heroic play, all moments that can speak a thousand words with just one image.
If you've ever felt inspired by a sports photo and wanted to begin shooting your own, this post is for you. I created this blog to inspire others. From here on, I will be sharing my own experiences, tips and tricks of how I create the content I do in hopes you'll learn something and pursue your own passions.
Tip #1: Study
Before you head off to shoot a sporting event, study the particular sport itself. By becoming a student of the game, it'll help you predict what plays will happen next. Being prepared and being in the right spot at the right time is key. These moments only happen once, so you must be ready.
Tip #2: Equipment
This is probably an obvious one, but you'll need more than just your iPhone to capture stunning athletic moments. Save up and invest in a DSLR. Chances are if you're getting into photography, you can book other gigs and make it count as Return on Investment (ROI). A separate blog post will be created as for what gear is best for you to get.
I personally have a Canon Rebel t6i. If you're a beginner, I would highly recommend this camera, or its latest model, the Canon Rebel t7i. The Rebel series from Canon is a great collection for beginners. With my Canon Rebel t6i, I've been able to capture some great sports action shots.
I would also suggest a lens that's at least 200mm so you can get tight on the action. Check to see if the lens has stabilization. For instance, my 75-300mm lens does not, but my 18-55mm has image stabilization. For Canon, I would recommend the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM or the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.6-5.6L USM. As for Nikon, I would suggest the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VRII or the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 G ED-IF II AF-S VR-II.
In order to capture great shots and utilize your equipment to its full potential, you must be ready and have the correct settings.
Tip #3: Settings
When shooting sports, ideally you want to freeze the action. In order to do so, you'll have to adjust your shutter speed. A general rule is to keep the speed above 1/250s. I personally aim to be 1/400s or faster, but it all depends on your circumstances. Remember, the faster your shutter speed, the less light you are letting in. In order to be correctly exposed, you'll have to compensate with your aperture and ISO. Keep in mind your aperture will manipulate your depth of field depending on your f-stop, while your ISO may cause more grain the higher you boost it. Depending on your lens, you'll have a range of f-stops, while different camera bodies can handle various amounts of ISO before receiving grain.
In order to do all this, you'll have to have the camera in manual mode. An alternative, especially if you're a true beginner is putting your camera in sports mode. Experiment with a few shots in this function and see what settings the shots are taken with. Look at the image and take note of how you would adjust it. Switch over to manual mode and change your settings accordingly.
Another setting you'll want to keep in mind is continuous shooting, also known as burst mode. This function allows you to hold down the shutter button and take consecutive photos. Rapid fire! Different camera bodies have different abilities for how many frames per second it can capture. However, I love this function because it's clutch for getting the right shot and creating GIFs.
If you would like to see how I make GIFs, click here: https://www.gcamillone.com/post/st-louis-zoo
Tip #4: Manual Focus
Always be in full control of your focus. The last thing you want is for an exciting moment to happen and the subject is out of focus. Always have your hand on the lens and be ready.
Tip #5: Experiment
This is a two tier tip.
First, experiment with your settings. Observe your environment and take some test shots to see what looks good. Indoor and outdoor sporting events can be completely different. Afternoon or night game. Depending on what light is available to you is how you will have to adjust your camera settings.
The second part to experimenting is trying new things. Get creative with your spots and don't stand in one place. Try different angles of the playing field/court. Get high in the stadium, or get low on the field. Come up with unique ways to tell the story.
I hope these tips have you feeling confident going into your first or next sports photography shoot. Remember to take each opportunity as a learning experience. Track your progress and growth and enjoy the journey of becoming a better version of yourself.
MULTI-PURPOSE LENS: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BW6LVW2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00BW6LVW2&linkCode=as2&tag=gregcamillo04-20&linkId=b50f5087fa7ea4ce8024f1ac6bc9d3da
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