Golden Rules for Sports Photography


chakai87

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Jun 24, 2009
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#1
Hi Everyone!

I've been taking photographs for a while now but am new to Clubsnap as a discussion forum, and my interests lie in the realm of Sports photography. I'd like to ask if anyone has any advice on it or any tips on any golden rules of Sports photography? Especially pertaining to taking action photographs....

I'm lucky enough to have inherited my brother's equipment, which include a Nikon 80-200 AF-D F2.8, which is my lense of choice for any sports I take, and a Nikon D200. If there are any tips on how to maximise the equipment I have too would be really welcomed!

Thank you so much in advance everyone!
 

#2
For action sports photography in broad daylight I use the following...

A. Burst Mode (Highest FPS Speed available)
B. Shutter Priority = Shutter speed 1/500 or faster
C. Continuous Autofocus with Single AF Point set in the center
D Auto ISO
E. Auto AWB

Good luck...

Cheers
 

Reportage

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Nov 24, 2008
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#3
The most golden rule.

If you got a good spot, stay there.
 

Jed

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#5
The most golden rule.

If you got a good spot, stay there.
Really?

If so, how are you ever going to get anything different?

How are you going to learn new things?

How are you going to find out where you get different types of pictures from, or how to take them?

What happens if, in sport more than a lot of other things, there is no such thing as the best spot (unless you're psychic in which case I'd stop over at the bookmakers first before going to the game to photograph it)?

I would say *one* of the rules is, don't chase the game. It's not even remotely the most important rule. And it's not quite the same thing as, if you got a good spot, stay there.

I've personally never been told, or told anyone, that once you find a good spot, stay there...
 

Reportage

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Nov 24, 2008
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#6
Really?

If so, how are you ever going to get anything different?

How are you going to learn new things?

How are you going to find out where you get different types of pictures from, or how to take them?

What happens if, in sport more than a lot of other things, there is no such thing as the best spot (unless you're psychic in which case I'd stop over at the bookmakers first before going to the game to photograph it)?

I would say *one* of the rules is, don't chase the game. It's not even remotely the most important rule. And it's not quite the same thing as, if you got a good spot, stay there.

I've personally never been told, or told anyone, that once you find a good spot, stay there...
Sports Photography not exactly a fashion show.

If so, how are you ever going to get anything different?
Sports Photography is not about different shots but about shots that can sell. So veterans usually know what pictures will sell so will camp at the most likely places can get the shots.

How are you going to learn new things?
Its not learning new things, its making the same shot again and again consistently. Now that is a challenge.

How are you going to find out where you get different types of pictures from, or how to take them?
Find out where the photographer that got the shot was standing and look from the perspective. nothing wrong asking why was standing there.

What happens if, in sport more than a lot of other things, there is no such thing as the best spot (unless you're psychic in which case I'd stop over at the bookmakers first before going to the game to photograph it)?
There is always a best spot just that whether qualified to take the spot or experienced enough to know the spot. We are just there to take the shots we are looking for so does it matter the results of the event?

I would say *one* of the rules is, don't chase the game. It's not even remotely the most important rule. And it's not quite the same thing as, if you got a good spot, stay there.
In Sports, the game will come to the photographer just that whether prepared for it or not.

I've personally never been told, or told anyone, that once you find a good spot, stay there...
Either you never ask or you dont do sports?
__________________
 

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ahbian

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May 23, 2006
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#7
The most golden rule.

If you got a good spot, stay there.
This sounds a bit generic and I am having difficulty imagining. Does a good spot change according to venue or type of sports? Or is it simply plonking ourselves down in the middle line or goal mouth.

Using soccer as an example, there are so many different shots from different angle appearing in the papers, means good spots change?

Are you able to share any examples based on the experiences and events you covered?
 

#8
The most golden rule.

If you got a good spot, stay there.
Hmmm, never heard of that before though.. This phrase will zap you dry of your creative juices. Getting the same shot again and again, viewers will find it boring. I'll never suggest that advice to anyone though.
 

coolthought

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Jun 23, 2008
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#9
Hi Everyone!

I've been taking photographs for a while now but am new to Clubsnap as a discussion forum, and my interests lie in the realm of Sports photography. I'd like to ask if anyone has any advice on it or any tips on any golden rules of Sports photography? Especially pertaining to taking action photographs....

I'm lucky enough to have inherited my brother's equipment, which include a Nikon 80-200 AF-D F2.8, which is my lense of choice for any sports I take, and a Nikon D200. If there are any tips on how to maximise the equipment I have too would be really welcomed!

Thank you so much in advance everyone!
what sort of sports are you talking about? Basketball, soccer, badminton, tennis, boxing, golf, formula drift, F1, motogp, table tennis, swimming, water polo, air race, sailing, surfing, marathon, taekwando, silat, gymnastic, ruby, cycling, fishing, kayaking, mountain climbing, rock climbing, rollerblading, skateboarding, diving,..... etc...etc....
 

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agentxq49

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Jun 1, 2009
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#10
Ok, heres my advice, im not pro, but i've taken quite a lot of sports shots. Also read up a lot.

1) Camera Settings

Your settings are important, such as fast shutter speed to capture the moment, something around 1/400 to 1/500 is the longest shutter speed for things like basketball and soccer, 1/250 for track and field. However, depending on the sport, you would need to adjust.

Auto ISO helps alot, maintaining your shutter speed on-the-go for every shot.

Take in burst mode, taking the shot a milisecond before the action and hold it down until the end of everything.

Tip: take in JPEG, it allows you to maintain your FPS longer.


2) Know and understand the game

Understanding the rules, the gameplay and the type of shots normally taken will improve your takes a lot. It will be very weird or distracting not knowing what has happened after a whistle, like the person who took shots of the school's inter water polo match recently. It will distract you and thus lose precious shots, such as a quick free quick in soccer that converts into a goal, or the sudden flare and human emotions that occurs after a flagrant foul in basketball.

Knowing the game will allow you to take good spots for your shots, thus wasting no time to get the action.

Looking at the pros' shots will allow you to visualise what you need to do to obtain what you want.


3) Have a check list of what you want to shoot

This is more or less the most important section.

Have a list of what you want, similar to wedding photos. You plan before hand, say you want a shot of a free kick being taken while the wall is in the air about to block the shot, or a shot of a dunk over a person right from below the basket itself, or a photo finish of 100m runners at the finish line. Know what you want to shoot, and shoot what you want.

AFTER YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR SHOT, MOVE ON. Do not think that you have a great shot, and thus you stay there, wanting more of the same. It does not help much. the amount of improvement is just the position of the ball or the hand posture difference. Having 2 very good shots of different scenes of the game is MUCH better than having a thousand shots of the same scene of the game.

4) Always have your focus point somewhere in the photo

This is something like the rule of the thirds, in any good shot, the main focus of the game will be there. In basketball shots, you'll see the ball inside the shot, in a soccer shot, you'll see the player shooting the ball. Almost all action shots will be useless without the ball/frisbee/pins/whatever in it. However, there are exceptions, such as celebration shots, rage shots, shots just to show the emotions of the game.

This rule is very important, although breakable.

5) Get to the same level as the action.

People do not like over head shots, to make the shots more impactful, go as low or even lower than the action. Get as close as possible, and use as wide as possible for the effect.

6) Equipment

Ofcourse, f2.8 will be extremely helpful, but f4 is mostly enough. The wider it is, the smaller the D.O.F is, thus it would isolate your subject.

7) Anticipate

Pre-focus, and wait for the action, rather than following it, being that 1 milisecond slower than the perfect shot.

Cheers!
AgentXQ49
 

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ahbian

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May 23, 2006
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#11
3) Have a check list of what you want to shoot

This is more or less the most important section.

Have a list of what you want, similar to wedding photos. You plan before hand.....

AFTER YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR SHOT, MOVE ON. Do not think that you have a great shot, and thus you stay there, wanting more of the same. It does not help much. the amount of improvement is just the position of the ball or the hand posture difference. Having 2 very good shots of different scenes of the game is MUCH better than having a thousand shots of the same scene of the game.
Ah, this makes much more sense to me.
 

coolthought

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Jun 23, 2008
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#12
let me try to sum it up in a few short lines....

1. Understand the sport and know what is going to happen. (including light condition...etc..)
2. Planning 2.1. Plan what, where, how, when you will be taking the shots.
3. Anticipate the unexpected.
 

Jed

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#13
Either you never ask or you dont do sports?
Let's see.

Once upon a time I did ask. We all start out and need to learn from someplace. I've talked to lots of freelancers, newspaper snappers, agency snappers.

Don't do sports? Oh I do sport alright :)

I've shot maybe 300-400 Premier League matches at an estimation. Covered England at home and away. Photographed all sorts of sport, basically anything that sells. Have photographed sportspeople such as Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, David Beckham, Luol Deng, David Haye, Yelena Isinbayeva, and Usain Bolt. Been published in all the major national newspapers in the UK, and a good number across Europe, with some scatterings as far afield as China and New Zealand.

I also conducted a workshop ages ago in 2004 in conjunction with Clubsnap and Nikon, about... sports photography.

You might want to revise the rest of your statements, and note that I'm not the only one who's telling you that your "most golden rule" sounds fudgy.
 

agentxq49

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#14
Let's see.

Once upon a time I did ask. We all start out and need to learn from someplace. I've talked to lots of freelancers, newspaper snappers, agency snappers.

Don't do sports? Oh I do sport alright :)

I've shot maybe 300-400 Premier League matches at an estimation. Covered England at home and away. Photographed all sorts of sport, basically anything that sells. Have photographed sportspeople such as Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, David Beckham, Luol Deng, David Haye, Yelena Isinbayeva, and Usain Bolt. Been published in all the major national newspapers in the UK, and a good number across Europe, with some scatterings as far afield as China and New Zealand.

I also conducted a workshop ages ago in 2004 in conjunction with Clubsnap and Nikon, about... sports photography.

You might want to revise the rest of your statements, and note that I'm not the only one who's telling you that your "most golden rule" sounds fudgy.
0.0 HOW?!?!?!?!? TEACH!!!! NAOW!!!! ONE ON ONE, SECRETS, EPL, NBA, WIN!!!! :bheart::heart:
 

chakai87

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Jun 24, 2009
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#15
Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your passionate and also very informative replies. I think I have learnt a fair bit from all of you... I think I'll definitely put my new found knowledge to the test the next time I do a sport photography outing and put up some of my photos thereafter on the forum for critiquing:)

With regards to the questions on what sports I exactly want to take, probably more action based sports on the field or on the track. I for one have been active in the Rugby circle so Rugby will be one of the sports I'd love to cover. Other sports would include Soccer, Volleyball and Basketball..

Ultimately too, my intent is to improve as a photographer and just enjoy capturing the sports that I personally love to play as well. It really is an added bonus, so that would be my first priority in terms of my expectations.

Thanks so much for the advice again!
 

Jed

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#16
I for one have been active in the Rugby circle so Rugby will be one of the sports I'd love to cover.
With rugby then generally longer is better. If you have a long lens (ie more than 400mm in 35mm terms) then you'd get decent results sitting behind the try line and having a go with that. Do not be afraid to go tight, there's no problem with shooting just the top half of players for example.

If you're restricted to shorter focal lengths then you'll be better off running the lines. I wouldn't recommend this to most people starting out but if you have a rugby background then you'll have a good idea where play is going to go and you can probably get away with it. Note that at the highest level people running the lines have a long lens as well.

You get very different images shooting from the end and shooting from the side as well, so ignore anything you read about finding a best spot and sticking to it.

And just in case Reportage wonders ( :) ), this advice comes from being the club photographer for the Newcastle Falcons since 2000, having shot at all the Six Nations stadia barring Rome, and having shot a Rugby World Cup. I have photographed players such as Dan Carter, Jonah Lomu, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Burke, Carl Hayman, Richie McCaw, Shane Williams, Schalk Burger, etc. I also happen to have a pic of me with Jonny and a certain Webb Ellis trophy... shame I'm in it but can't do much about that ;p

I do also happen to be a bit of a rugby fan, if you hadn't guessed.
 

coolthought

Senior Member
Jun 23, 2008
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#17
Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your passionate and also very informative replies. I think I have learnt a fair bit from all of you... I think I'll definitely put my new found knowledge to the test the next time I do a sport photography outing and put up some of my photos thereafter on the forum for critiquing:)

With regards to the questions on what sports I exactly want to take, probably more action based sports on the field or on the track. I for one have been active in the Rugby circle so Rugby will be one of the sports I'd love to cover. Other sports would include Soccer, Volleyball and Basketball..

Ultimately too, my intent is to improve as a photographer and just enjoy capturing the sports that I personally love to play as well. It really is an added bonus, so that would be my first priority in terms of my expectations.

Thanks so much for the advice again!
oic... however, your 80-200 may not have enough reach for shots to fill the frame unless you are prepare to run down the field with the action...:bsmilie:

Or like what I see the pro do is to have at least 2 camera to cover the zoom range required.
This all I can say.... haven't try any field sport photography yet...all I know so far is by reading.

If you like, you can organise some kind of sports shooting outing. I will definitely want to join if my schedule allow. Probably I have more to learn from you than you from me. :D

PS. one of the read did say that... someone who knows and understand the game/sports like the back of his hand has a better chance of capturing more good photos than a pro who doesn't. Precisely agentxq49's point number 2.
 

coolthought

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Jun 23, 2008
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#18
With rugby then generally longer is better. If you have a long lens (ie more than 400mm in 35mm terms) then you'd get decent results sitting behind the try line and having a go with that. Do not be afraid to go tight, there's no problem with shooting just the top half of players for example.

If you're restricted to shorter focal lengths then you'll be better off running the lines. I wouldn't recommend this to most people starting out but if you have a rugby background then you'll have a good idea where play is going to go and you can probably get away with it. Note that at the highest level people running the lines have a long lens as well.

You get very different images shooting from the end and shooting from the side as well, so ignore anything you read about finding a best spot and sticking to it.

And just in case Reportage wonders ( :) ), this advice comes from being the club photographer for the Newcastle Falcons since 2000, having shot at all the Six Nations stadia barring Rome, and having shot a Rugby World Cup. I have photographed players such as Dan Carter, Jonah Lomu, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Burke, Carl Hayman, Richie McCaw, Shane Williams, Schalk Burger, etc. I also happen to have a pic of me with Jonny and a certain Webb Ellis trophy... shame I'm in it but can't do much about that ;p

I do also happen to be a bit of a rugby fan, if you hadn't guessed.
Will you organise a sport photography outing?:D
 

coolthought

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Jun 23, 2008
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#20
Sure but you'll either have to come here or sponsor my airfare back? ^^
oh...we are more than a thousand kilometres away from each other.... maybe in cyberspace...;p
 

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