Monthly Archives: February 2009

Shooting Sports Photography with Gloves

 

Sports photography offers many rewards and many challenges, one of the greatest challenges is Mother Nature. What do you do if you must shoot sports in a cold, winter climate? When temperatures are below freezing, using your bare fingers isn’t so fun. Keeping your hands warm while providing the ability to access and manipulate the camera controls is a must, but also the difficult to do.  This is not just a need for those that live in geographically cold locations, but can be requirement most anywhere including indoor ice arenas which are often as cold or colder than outdoor weather outdoors.

Mild Temperature

For temperatures that are not too cold a pair of baseball, golf or shooting gloves can do the trick.  In reality any light thin gloves that allow for dexterity and provide grip on the camera will work.  The gloves need to be thin to allow you to reach and touch the controls, and have some form of grip so that the camera does not slip out of your hands.

Colder

At events with colder temperatures you will need gloves that keep hands warm and ensure a firm grip and allow you to control your gear.  You want soft gloves that will keep your hands warm with fabric designed to wick away moisture.  Some of the warmer gloves will be made from Lycra or Thinsulate and will come with control dots that help to ensure a firm grip on the delicate camera controls. 

Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless gloves often made from thermal fleece or wool allow you to easily pull out your fingers for full use and dexterity giving you full access to your photography and then pull the mitten portion back over your fingers to keep your hands warm. There is a variety of these types of gloves some that have small flip back caps over the thumb and index fingers and others that allow you to flip back all the fingers and thumb.  Some will even have small magnets to help keep the finger and thumb caps out of the way.

New Electronic Gloves

A newer style designed gloves that have been designed to work well with cell phones and iPod’s can be of help here as well.  These gloves were developed specifically for phone and PDA users caught in the frigid air. They are meant to assure technological convenience under one of the most stressful conditions, by keeping your hands warm and comfortable.  These gloves have a silicon-like grip on the finger tips with a sensory transmission ideal for touch screens and other fine controls.  

Even Colder

If you find yourself even even colder conditions you will want to have regular snow gloves or hand-warmers that you can use in between shooting to slip your hands into and warm-up.  Hand-warmers will last for hours, warm your hands quickly and are light-weight and can be stored in your pockets.

Consider purchasing a quality pair of gloves that provide a perfect everyday shield against winter helping you keep and stay warm while shooting those great sports photos as you remain snug, warm, and comfortable.

Scott

ProPix Photography LLC

The Professional Sports Photographers

Learning How to Shoot Sports Photography

 

How do you learn to be a sports photographer?  Well it isn’t by getting a college degree.  As far as I can tell there are no degrees in sports photography and even if there was, it probably wouldn’t be of that much use.  While there are many courses and introductions to basic photography as well as online courses and help with computer manipulation of photos there is nothing in the world of sports photography.  A bit odd when you think about it since sports generates so much emotion and is such a large part of our culture.  Add to that fact that sports photography is the toughest of all photography skills to learn.  It may be just as well, because as with most things if you want to learn it you just need to dive in and learn it on your own.  Make it an ongoing education by self-study and practice. 

Learn from a professional

Why do people go to college?  One reason is to learn from someone that already has the knowledge and experience.  Someone that can teach them the ins and outs and help them avoid mistakes.  Take that same strategy when learning to shoot sports.  If you are shooting an event and notice a professional photographer wander over, make a friend, and learn from them.  Notice or ask what setting they are using, what are they shooting with, and even watch and listen to them shoot.  Learn the timing from them, and watch where they are standing.  Now granted every professional photographer isn’t great, but you may learn something that will make you better.  Another option is to ask a professional online.  Submit your photos for analysis and get feedback from a professional sports photographer. 

Go to sports magazine websites and look at their galleries.  Look for the sport you are working on and look at the photos, composition of the photo.  These are shots you can learn to produce.  Some great resources for seeing professional sports photography:

Yahoo’s Sports Photos
Sports Illustrated Top Photos of 2008
Youth Sports Photos – Football

Practice or Study
You can become an expert in a number of ways.  You can decide to learn everything there is about your camera, understanding how light works with the sensor, how the camera interprets color into 1s and 0s.  There are 1,000s of books you can read and 1000s of websites.  You can also become an expert by what I call the practical method.  Get out there and just do it, practice and see what works.  You might not know why 400 ISO works in a particular situation, but you will know when it works for you and the sports you are shooting. 

Both these methods work for learning sports photography and I won’t necessarily recommend one over the other, but probably the best approach is a combination of both.  Spending hours and hours reading about photography before you take your first photo is not the best approach and taking 1,000s of photos without understanding what aperture is wouldn’t be wise either.  My recommendation is get out there and start shooting.  Then as you see your results, and start wanting to improve different aspects of your sports photography read a manual, read a book and ask questions.  Make sports photography a life long learning endeavor.

Scott
ProPix Photography LLC
The Sports Photography Professionals

How to Take Team Photos

You’re so busy getting all those great actions shots don’t forget to get the team and group photos.  Don’t forget the team photos that help document the occasion the effort, emotion and success.  Team photos can be successful before or after the game or after the awards ceremony.  Just as you are with the action shots you will need to be quick and organized.  If not you will have whining and complaining athletes as well as parents, and guaranteed the next time you try, few will stay around.  So be quick, efficient and people will respond.

When & What to Wear
There are three primary options for when to take the team photo.  They can be taken prior to the competition, immediately after or along with the awards ceremony.  Depending on the event it might a  formal affair or simply a quick team photo to remind everyone who on the team or at the tournament. 

Before
The advantages of doing it before the game or event is that everyone is typically in a good enthusiastic mood, no one has lost yet, and their uniforms and hair are perfectly arranged, or as good as it will get.  The challenges are they might not all come wearing their uniform as you requested and they might arrive late which holds everyone up.  If you are attempting to do this before-hand get the word out in advance if you can, tell them all what to wear and encourage them to be on time.  Also, make sure it’s okay with the coach because they often have a very specific plan for warm-up and will want extra time if you’re going to take photos to no disrupt it.

After
Taking a team photo after the competition or event can be good since all the athletes are present and in the team uniform.  Many like the post game photo because it shows them more in their real attire and look, sweat on their faces, dirt on their shoes and uniforms and faces with the emotions of losing or winning.  If this is the plan, then make sure to let the athletes know before they start removing jerseys or shoes, catch they won’t want to put them back on.  So hustle them together before any of that occurs.

Location & Lighting
The where to take this photo will be dependent on what’s available close by and how many athletes will be in the photo.  Can you choose a location that compliments the sport and eliminates distracting backgrounds.  Is their a geographical items to capture as part of it.  Are there physical items that can play a part such as the goal posts, the stadium, the bleachers.  Fortunately some post photo editing may help fix some of the background, but if you can generate a good angle or find a good background you will be better off.  It’s a challenge but you must also contend with the light.  Ideally allow the sun to light their faces, but invariably it will be too bright and they will close their eyes.  If the group is small enough you can use "fill flash" to remove the shadows from faces or another trick is to have everyone open their eyes just in time for the photo.

Posing
Take charge and get the athletes organized.  You may want to enlist parents or other observers to assist.  Make sure all bags, balls, towels or other sports gear that is a distraction in the photo is removed and out of the way.  It will often get tossed behind or to the side, but will still be in the way of your photos.  Enlist a parent of sibling to run around and pick everything up and put it in a single pile out of the way.  Each sport and the number of athlete participants and the location you have chosen will affect the way you organize and pose them.  From a doubles tennis team of two through a soccer team of 21 or a football team of 40+ you may have some real challenges. 

A good way to get some posing ideas is to look at professional sports magazines or websites.  For example, world cup soccer poses are a bit unique with two rows of players the first row squatting on their heals.  Each sport may have it’s own way or typical way to shoot team photos.  The key factors are to position, balance and spacing.  Position the athletes so everyone is visible.  That might mean the first row is sitting, the second kneeling and the third standing.  But just as with your action shots you need to see everyone’s face.  Balance is next, be a bit symmetrical, not all the tall athletes one side, nor allow the standing row to roll off to the left a few more feet than the kneeling row.  Spacing means ensure the athletes are tight together, no huge spaces between them either horizontally or depth-wise, what looks like a small space to use will appear much larger and disproportionate in the photo.

Make it fun & fast
Whatever you do make it fast, get them in position, take a couple shots and be done with it.  Their athletes and kids and they don’t like posing for photos.  They want to have a photo taken don’t get me wrong, but they don’t want to wait around for it, so be quick about it.  Make it fun as well, be creative, after the serious shot take a crazy one they always love that.  Make sure to include the coach and if you have a MVP or goalie or someone to highlight put them in front with the ball.  With soccer teams we always like to lay the goalie down in front with the soccer ball, and they always appreciate it.

Remember to make team and group photos part of your sports photography, and you will have more great photos to share and enjoy!

ProPix Photography

The Sports Photography Professionals