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.
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.
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”.
When 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.
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.
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.
Experience 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.
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.