Life is tough…but amazing.
Setting up your camera for sports photography

One of the first things I learned as a sports photographer is that once the action starts I never have time to adjust the settings on my camera. Sports photography is fast paced and if you want to get great shots your camera has to be ready. If you are interested in taking sports and action photos as a profession or even a hobby there are a few things you can do to ensure that your camera is ready.

ca3

You are probably already familiar with the basic settings on your camera. This includes the settings for exposure, autofocus and the drive modes. Once you have these three functions set to match your location and the type of action you are trying to capture chances are you will be able to take crisp action shots.

ca1

If you want to improve your chances of taking great sports photographs there are a few other settings you might want to adjust. This can also limit the number of photos that you take accidentally, and I have learned that this is a definite advantage. One of the first things you’ll want to do is set the AE/AF button in “AF” mode. This way instead of pressing on the shutter to turn the autofocus function on, you will use the AE/AF button. Not only does this make it easier to track a moving subject, it also eliminates a lot of mistakes since you are only pressing the shutter when you are ready to snap the photo. You also want to make sure that the camera is set for “continual autofocus”.

 

ca4When you are setting the drive mode make sure that it is on the highest speed so your camera is always ready to go. I have learned the hard way that if my camera isn’t ready there is no way that I will be able to take a great or even good shot. This is also true for the exposure mode, which should be set in “S”. This way you have the option have using a fast shutter speed for crisp clear shots or one that is slightly slower to add a little artistic blurring to the moving image. You also want to pay attention to the ISO setting, and this will depend on the amount of light. For clear moving images in low light you will want to have the ISO set to at least 400 if not higher. If there is plenty of light your photos will turn out best if you have the ISO set to 200 or lower.

Now that you know how to set your camera up ahead of time, you should be ready to go out and take some great sports and action photographs.

I Tried Out Boxing and I Loved It

A lot of people are taking up boxing these days, but only recently I learned about what really makes this sport special. For the first time in my life, I tried out boxing and from the moment I threw my first punch, I instantly fell in love with it. Let me tell you this: boxing is more than just a workout and this is what I want to talk to you about in this post.

 

It’s really fun!

Every doctor on the planet will recommend physical activity to keep in shape and be healthy, but running on a treadmill, or repeating exercises day after day is really boring. Here is where boxing is different. It is tons of fun! Boxing is not just about throwing punches as you may believe. I know I was the kind of skeptic who didn’t believe that you can have fun while boxing. Now I sincerely think that I am addicted to it. There are so many things to learn and aiming for the perfect punch easily becomes a life quest. I’m joking here but boxing is really fun and it gives you purpose while training which takes all the boredom out of physical activity. And you know what they say: if it’s fun and never boring, you won’t quit!

f2

Do you enjoy a challenge?

I know I do. The thing with fitness training, no matter how clever or well thought out, is that it does not clearly offer you a challenge. Yes, you want to lose weight or gain more definition in your muscles, but the thing is that such goals are not too much fun. Boxing is complex; you do not need only superior strength, you also need to be fast, clever, always on the lookout for an opening and highly strategic. I am going to give it to you straight: boxing will challenge you both physically and mentally to such a degree that you will think that you have never tried something harder in your life. But this is exactly what makes it so amazing. It puts you on the spot and it gives you something to fight for and I think this is why I love it so much.

 

Becoming a fighter

I must admit that I was not exactly a wall of confidence when I walked into the gym, planning to start my first boxing session. That changed rather quickly, as my trainer smiled at me and asked me if I wanted to become a real fighter. Boxing is about meeting your opponent face to face in a ring. I could not envision myself as someone who would go at another person, ready to fight. Don’t get me wrong; I am by no means a violent person. But the fact that you can really face another human being, on equal ground and fight towards proving your best really does wonders for your confidence. I think my confidence has improved ten folds since I started boxing.

f1

It’s a good workout

If you are considering taking on a sport that will model your body and mind, and get you in shape at the same time, like I did, I seriously recommend boxing. It gives you a good workout, it requires the entire body to be in shape, and it makes you have good reflexes. Boxing is tough, and that is why training in this manner is tough, too. So, I highly advise to take up boxing if you are looking for a really tough, challenging workout that will never let you have a second of boredom.

Can you take great pictures with an average point and shoot camera?

As an aspiring sports photographer I get to combine two of my passions, and whether I am at the gym or on the field I always have my basic point and shoot camera with me. Since I do use a point and shoot camera I always seem to be asked if I can really take great pictures with it or do I have to spend hours in the studio touching up each image? My answer seems to surprise everyone.

f1

I can and frequently do take great stills and action shots with an average point and shoot camera, and often my photos look just as crisp and clear as those taken by a professional with an expensive DSLR model. As I’ve followed football teams around Europe I’ve learned a few tricks, and there are three that I am convinced are what have enabled me to take professional looking sports photographs. They are experience, timing and the ability to frame my subject. With time, patience and a lot of practice anyone can master these simple tricks, I did even though it took me a couple of years.

 

f2Experience comes with time and practice, it is not something that you can rush. Even professional sports photographers will tell you their first shots were blurry and unfocused, especially when their subject was moving. Experience and practice will also help you master timing and the ability to dramatically frame your subject, and this is what will enable you to take great pictures with an average point and shoot camera. Knowing where to stand during the action will dramatically improve your chances of getting a great shot, whether your subject is moving or standing still. This also comes with practice and experience. If you are lucky enough to have friends active in sports don’t be afraid to use them as “guinea pigs”. Tag along with them to football practice or join them at the gym or skate park. Chances are they won’t mind posing and showing off their skills for you to photograph. Who knows you might even get lucky and get a shot of a burgeoning sports star.

f3

All I’m trying to say is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive DSLR cameras and interchangeable lenses as long as you have the experience you need to frame and time your shots perfectly. It also doesn’t hurt that point and shoot cameras now come with plenty of advanced features that make it even easier to take a great picture.

 

Training for the summer body

Getting a beach body is hard, and most people don’t feel motivated enough to start making changes to their daily regimen, eat clean, and set up a workout routine on a regular basis. If you’re completely out of shape and have gained a few pounds over the years, it will take you longer to shed fat and start getting leaner and stronger. This is the reason it’s crucial to set achievable goals. If you want to lose as much as 100 pounds but it is the middle of July and you’ll be going on vacation to Mexico in mid-August, it’s very likely that you’re unable to lose that much weight in a month’s time. What you can do, however, is make small but effective changes that can help you keep working out even when you’re on vacation.

f64 9

Aerobic and fitness might not be enough if what you’re focused on is looking the best in your swimsuit. Since not all people have enough money to go to the gym every day, we suggest creating a workout routine at home. While most individuals like to say that they do not have enough time to fit any sort of exercise in their schedule, we feel compelled to disagree. Anyone can find just one hour per day that they can use to watch TV or perform any other activity that might be undertaken by a couch potato. If you’re so set on the idea of watching the news for one to two hours every evening, what’s stopping you from making some exercised while you do this?

We’ve seen that the most efficient way of getting your summer body is focusing both on cardio and strength training. For example, you could dance for thirty minutes or watch some Zumba or aerobic lessons online for just as much time while you work out. Take a short break after half an hour and continue with your strength training, which in this case could be lifting weights or performing a series of body-resistance exercises. If you also want to tone up your legs, you can get a pair of weights that can be attached to your ankle with the help of Velcro straps. Finally, there’s nothing like six-pack abs, so just do some crunches, but be sure to take it easy in the beginning and start with as many as twenty to thirty per day. Gradually increase this number as your resistance enhances.

f6410

Be sure to correlate all this exercise with small changes in your diet. If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, have your fill with egg whites, lean meats such as fish and poultry and eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Grains are excellent sources of fiber, so perhaps you’d also like to add some brown rice. To avoid getting vitamin E-deficient, eat nuts and seeds, at least once in a while. Stay away from fizzy, sugary drinks as often as possible and order your food judiciously, especially when you are at a restaurant with the rest of your family.

The photos I would have taken at the European Championship

I haven’t had the time to watch all the games from the European Championship in France this year, but I did manage to watch a couple of them. There were some nice moments I would have liked photographing: the reactions of the French and Portuguese players after the final, Italy’s and Portugal’s penalty session, Icelanders’ attitude when they left the competition.

f64 3

At these tournaments, it becomes even more obvious that football today really provides us with so many hard to forget moments. Only those who truly care about this sport can understand. My personal favorite teams and the ones I would have liked to see in the final were Italy or Germany. Unfortunately, these two teams are followed by bad luck at the European Championship lately.

Ireland supporters are pictured ahead the Euro 2016 group E football match between Italy and Ireland at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, on June 22, 2016. / AFP / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

f64 5Honestly, I believe football encompasses a wide range of emotions and human behaviors that go beyond the sphere of what sport usually brings with it. I believe everybody has seen at least one article on social media about the Irish fans repairing cars and singing serenades or other songs on the streets, in the tram or on the train. They really gave an example of how football
can bring the best in all of us and how this phenomenon has ceased to be just a sport a long time ago. I won’t deny that football can be associated with less positive events such as excessive drinking and violence, like the Russians supporters have proven in Marseille, but, in the end, that also depends on our general attitude towards life and how we face defeat and failure. Overall, I believe the positive effect prevails over any other when we’re talking about football.

f64 8

If I were to choose a couple of photos that I would have loved to have taken during Euro 2016, I could name a few: Irish fans would be in some of them, the Icelanders performing their war dance, the Portuguese bench (with Cristiano Ronaldo dancing like a lion in a cage) during the final, that Irish fan in a mass of Swedish supporters or that Portuguese fan supporting a French fan after the final. However, capturing the players’ expressions during a match, after they won or lost, their joyful gestures, or their anger, a goalkeeper stretching to defend an impossible ball would have been the main goal for me. These are all proof of how people can surpass their limitations, give their best for the team and for those who appreciate and support them. I couldn’t be there this year, but I’m definitely going to the World Cup in 2018 to capture the best moments there.

My new soccer gear

F64 1The last time I played soccer, my cleats were ruined. I had to get new ones and for a while I had doubts about spending my money on something worth the while or cheap new equipment that didn’t last too long. In the end, I had to decide on some high-quality socks, shorts, and cleats, and throw in some shin pads, as well. The shin pads that I chose were the Vizari Malaga because I had heard nothing but good things about them and eventually found them to be reasonably lightweight and protective in a good sense. I had to get the L because I’m 5’11” but I didn’t find it particularly difficult to get the proper size because I came across a size chart that had been made available by the manufacturer.

f64 2Since ruining my cleats was the whole thing that started me off on doing a bit of research and renewing my entire equipment, I had to see what type was the best one for me. Based on the info that I found online, it seems that you’re supposed to pick cleats depending on the surface where you’re most likely to play soccer. It goes without saying that I wanted a universal pair of cleats for all sorts of surfaces but I found it very difficult to choose one over the next mostly because from spring to fall, I play soccer with my friends outside; when winter kicks in, I play on artificial ground. I’m not a well-seasoned player but I know for sure that I’m looking for quality at a reasonable price. I wanted a pair of cleats that was lightweight, sturdy enough and designed to allow quick passes. For me, it all boiled down to what I was looking to spend. From what I saw, there are roughly four categories of cleats depending on the price. Those that are priced above one hundred and fifty dollars are the best, but they’re not recommended for average users that don’t even plan to use them all that often. Eventually, I decided to spend around ninety dollars on a serious pair of cleats and that’s due to the fact that I am convinced that I’ll be able to use them some more in the feature, without having to worry about them getting damaged as easily as the last ones did.

As for the rest of the equipment, I found it very easy to select it as I didn’t have any trouble with the sizing nor with the material. I went online and checked for the best prices and details regarding size and fabric and was able to choose a pair of shorts, a shirt, and some good socks, as well. I spent around two hundred dollars on the clothes, but I don’t think that’s a lot of money given that I’ll be able to use them for many years to come. Basically, a good pair of cleats and the best shin guards can last you forever provided that you take good care of them.

My passion: sports photography

 

The idea of becoming a sports photographer came to me quite late, in my second year of college. I did want to become a photographer long before that moment, but what really troubled me was that I couldn’t find a suitable subject. It was only when I got inside a gym to exercise for the first time, that I realized sports photography was indeed a tremendous opportunity. Through it, I could show the physical transformation of amateurs or professional athletes, while capturing their struggle to overcome their limitations, their achievements or failures at the end of a long day of training.

sportsphoto3
I believed that what sport offered in means of artistic possibilities was the chance to capture grace and power at the same time, but also the battle behind the two. I won’t mention how completely and utterly thrilled I was with my discovery and decided to start right away.

sportsphoto1Then came the hardest part of my art project: it was hard to find suited and, more important, available subjects. I decided the best way to continue my project was mapping the area for sport clubs and gyms. Even so, it takes a tremendous effort to convince people to model for you, especially since, as a non-professional, you have no credibility (“Hello, I’m an aspiring photographer and an art student, would you let me take your picture?”, doesn’t sound so good). Most certainly, there were people willing and even happy to help. Even so, as my goal was not solely to capture their bodies, but something about them as humans, instant photos were not always helpful. I didn’t give up my ambitions, but I’ve determined that my project would progress a lot more if I modified it somehow, or found another approach to it.

sportsphoto2So, why not, I’ve said to myself, capture my day to day struggle and that of others at the gym in a blog that would bring together sport and art? So, here I am, writing my first blog post. I’ve pondered and decided that I will write about sport changing people and how their transformation takes place, assisted by photos and texts, but also about my own athletic transition and how my body changed the past few months. I’ve grown to be a gym enthusiast and came to know the various methods that help with keeping your body fit.

Finally, I’ve come to understand that the gym is not just a place where you go with the sole purpose of staying fit and shaping a perfect body, but also one where you meet interesting people and manage to get past your physical boundaries. It is also a place where a variety of people gather, each one with their amazing stories behind that I can help make known to others through a simple photography.