Family Sports Photography – 4 Steps Great Sports Photos

1. Location, Location, Location
Just like real estate your best sports photos will come by you being in the right location.  Figure out where you can position yourself to get the best photos.  This probably won’t be up in the stands amongst all the other spectators.  Most often it’s down on the field or the court or upfront where you have the best view.  It might be at an angle or elevated a bit to avoid obstacles.  Don’t be bashful, if you have a good camera, and look like you know what you’re doing then get down in front until someone makes you move, besides if you’re shooting photos of all the athletes then you’re actually the "team" photographer and who will complain about that?  Being in the right location is critical for getting those photos you want.  Remember, don’t become glued to a single spot either.  Move around, try different angles, different elevations and different positions.  You will be amazed at the difference in the photo by simply changing the angle and this will help keep you from always getting the same shots over and over.

2. Set the ISO
After getting in the right location, next set and check your ISO.  The ISO is the speed at which you will be shooting to capture the action.  If you’re outside and it’s sunny setting your ISO to 400 will capture the action without blur.  If you’re in low sunlight or indoors you will need to set the ISO to 800 or even higher.  You want to be as low as you can be, but still capture the motion without blur.  Even with a good fast lens f2.8 I find myself setting the ISO to 1600 in low light situations.  There is nothing more disappointing than an hours worth of game or event shooting that is all blurry.  You get home thinking you shot some incredibly good photos, load them on the computer and then finding they are all blurry.  It can be difficult to tell if they are blurry or not from the little view finder on the back of the camera, so be careful and error on the side of shooting too fast.

3. Set the White Balance
Now make sure the color is going to look good.  This is a setting you can easily test by taking a couple of practice shots and reviewing them on the camera.  If in doubt start with the White Balance on automatic.  If you’re sure what to do, this is always a pretty good choice and will usually capture good realistic colors.  If you have time try some of the other preset’s for white balance.  Indoors your will find that the "florescent" setting will often give you better color.  So, take a practice shot check photos and decide which setting gives you the best color and go with that.  Look at the colors your eye is seeing and then at the photo.  Which White Balance setting gives you the more realistic color?  Be sure to look at the white’s and other brilliant colors.  These will help you determine the best setting for you.

4. Capture the Face

No matter what photos you get of the athlete even if they are not blurry, if they don’t include a good view of the athlete’s face they won’t be interesting to anyone.  Make sure you are positioned so you can capture the action and the faces of the athletes.  Move if you have to you must have their faces.  If you’re outside with the sun you also need to make sure that the faces are not shadowed.  Stand with your back to the sun so that it is lighting the faces of the athletes and you will have sports photos you love.
If you will do these four small things in the first three minutes of preparing for your sporting event you will be well on your way to taking great sports photos!
Scott Wells
The Practical Photographer

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