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Sports Photography

Of course you cannot generalise completely about sports photography, taking photographs at a football game is not the same as taking photographs at a different sport event such as a rally car championship. There are however a few fundamental things that will not change no matter what sports event or type of sports you are taking photographs of. Sports are happening all of the year round in one way or another and offer an excellent opportunity to take some fantastic photographs and expand your knowledge as a photographer. Sports photography is by no means more or less challenging than any other type; but it just allows photographers to take photographs in a challenging environment on a regular basis.

Unfortunately you cannot simply turn up at a sport event you are unfamiliar with and expect to turn out world class photographs. You will need at least a basic working knowledge of the sport event at hand in order to anticipate the moments of the contestants so you can capture exciting and dramatic images. There are a number of questions you should ask yourself at a sports event, firstly considering how close you can get to the sports action. This will help you determine what size lens you require; for some sports events a wide angle lens will suffice but others you may need a telephoto lens. Consider the sports event itself as well as just the distance you will be away from it, some sports produce more exciting images from further or closer distances when compared side by side.

As with other types of photography that have you photographing moving objects (wildlife photography and aviation photography immediately spring to mind) you must know your camera equipment inside out. In sport photography you will have to be able to set your camera up quickly, and then change your settings on the fly if required. Unlike aviation photography though in sports photography a tripod is almost a pre-requisite for producing high quality images and there are very few sports events where a tripod is not suitable.

It is up to you to take some time to determine what camera settings are required for the particular sport you are watching. Obviously a game of snooker will require very different settings to a gymnastics competition not only because the pace of the two sports are different but also because your surroundings and distance from the action are very different. There is no “magic” setting that will produce perfect images every time, even from venue to venue within the same sports event you will need to change your settings completely. Eventually you will be able to read your surroundings and set your camera accordingly with no trial and error.

Your knowledge of the sports event you are witnessing will also come in very handy when taking photographs. Obviously it is best to shoot with your camera in a mode that will take multiple pictures in quick succession, this will allow you to hand pick the best sports pictures from your collection later on, however if you have a good knowledge of the sport you will be able to anticipate events before they occur and you will also learn where the best areas for photography are on and off the sports area. For instance if you are photographing a track race sport event then certain corners may lend themselves to sports photography more so than others, it is up to you to increase your knowledge of photography and find out what works best.