High-speed photography is the only take to take great sports photographs. Safe at the plate, the perfect head, crossing the finish line, or an embrace after a win; they all happen at a fast pace that requires exceptional shutter speed, and if they are on the field of play, they also require telephoto DSLR lenses. So you need three things to break into the world of sports photography: the aforementioned lens and a digital camera that can support the necessary shutter speed, familiarity with the necessary settings and how a camera performs in these conditions, and a bit of luck and good timing.
Photo by Ben Shaul
1. The equipment is the easy part assuming you have the budget. Pros use a 300mm or a 70-200mm telephoto lens, but with f2.8, but getting one that is worth the money is too expensive for most novices. A decent telephoto that reaches up to 200mm, has a low aperture to facilitate fast shutter speeds, and offers image stabilization is a good start. You also need the lens and body to support shutter speeds near 1/500 or faster so you can capture crisp images despite fast movement. Lastly, if you are shooting with a long telephoto, you may want a monopod to help stabilize the shot and support the heavy lens.
2. A fundamental understanding of how cameras work is an essential start. In photography you’re always trying to get the right amount of light. Shutter speed controls how long the iris remains open allowing light to hit the iris. The shorter it’s open, the less light, but the longer it’s open, the more still you must maintain the camera and the subject to avoid undesired blur.
The aperture setting or f/ stop refers to how wide the iris opens. A smaller number means a bigger opening, which also helps make the background in the photo blurry – a happy result for sports photography but not always the effect you want. Lastly, the ISO impacts the same details – a higher ISO captures more light in low-light environments and helps capture moving photos. The tradeoff is that at higher ISOs, images can become grainy.
So for sports photography you want the fastest shutter speed you can use that lets enough light into the photo, which means a low f/stop and a higher ISO, although most cameras lose quality quickly above ISO 800. This should help you capture bright, sharp sports photos.
3. Luck and experience are the most difficult to come by, because they cost time and practice It starts with an understanding of where to stand. You need to know your sport to identify the best vantage points for the action. Combined with an understanding of what make for exciting moments and an ability to anticipate the game, this enables you to start shooting in the right direction.
From there, it’s just a matter of experimenting with composition, camera settings, and timing. Keep in mind that dynamic shots with the ball or sporting object and faces are the best and you’ll soon be leveraging your s
photography equipment and DSLR lenses to great effect.