If you plan to be attending sporting events this summer, we have collected some great tips for capturing all the outdoor action, whether you’re shooting professional athletes or your kids’ team competing at the local park.
Anticipate the action. Focus on the sport without shooting for a few minutes to identify places where the “big moments” tend to take place. Every sport has a rhythm, and you’ll discover that there are certain “hot zones” that see more action than others. Position yourself to keep those zones in view without any obstruction, and lock your focus and exposure ahead of time. Set your camera to burst a series of pictures when you press the shutter release and you’ll be ready to capture that first-place shot!
Use a high ISO setting to freeze action, even in bright sunlight. We usually think of high ISO as a tool for capturing bright images in a low-light environment, but a high ISO setting will also allow your camera to select a very fast shutter speed. This will help freeze all the action, even in the heat of the moment.
Use a longer shutter speed and pan with the action. This is the opposite of the advice above, and it produces a very different effect. Select a longer shutter speed (along with a lower ISO) and follow the action as it moves past you. If you keep the athlete in the same place in your viewfinder as you pan, she’ll stay tack-sharp and the background will turn into a blurry streak. This is a trick that the pros often use to convey speed and energy in their sports shots.
Shoot the crowd, too. Most of the excitement might be taking place on the playing field, but the crowd can be full of photographic opportunity. Colourful uniforms, passionate fans and the roller-coaster ride of emotions can create wonderful photos, so don’t be afraid to turn your lens on your fellow spectators.