|Photo Tip and Assignment #6 – SportsWithout a doubt it would be great fun, but you don’t need to go to the Olympics as a press photographer to be able to capture a winning Sports shot.
The kids’ football or swimming classes, charity marathons around town and the holiday Frisbee game, can all be great opportunities to practise and perhaps discover a passion that you can pursue professionally.
Holger Pooten, photographer and trainer at LSP, shares his experience about photographing this image (left) with us: “Sports venues can be busy places, containing a lot of elements which would distract from the performance of the athlete. Because of this, I used a flash to separate the long jumper from the background, still showing enough details to give a feeling of the location. The use of flash also ensured that the movement would be completely frozen”.
Technically, there are several approaches when it comes to photographing sports. The first thing to think about is the distance you will be from the subject, in order to choose your lenses. For the picture on the left, Holger was very close and used a wide angle lens. If you are going to be far from your subject, you will need telephotos (100 to 1000mm+) to be able to fill the frame. A monopod can be of great help if your lens is bulky, as tripods will limit your mobility.
The second thing to think is what kind of light source is available to you. Day light? Stadium large floodlights? The flash Holger referred to was a broncolor (studio lighting type). The camera flash or speedlights can be used as well if you are close to your subject. The burst of light from an electronic flash can freeze motion even if your camera shutter-speed is slow. But flashes will be of no help if the subject is beyond it’s reach range or if you are not allowed to use it during some events.
To freeze movement without flash, you will need a very fast shutter-speed and that can be achieved with a combination of wide apertures (low f/number) and high ISOs. This is because, the more light we let into the camera (through a wide aperture, on a high light sensitive medium), the faster the shutter-speeds go. The exact shutter speed to freeze a subject in motion depends on some factors: Speed of the subject, Direction of the motion in relation to the camera, Distance of subject from the camera. It is good to try a few combinations to find the best settings for each occasion.
TYPICAL SHUTTER SPEEDS REQUIRED TO STOP MOTION:
Person walking: 1/125, 1/60,
Jogger: 1/250, 1/125,
Sprinter: 1/500, 1/250
Cyclist 1/500, 1/250
Galloping Horse 1/1000, 1/500
Diver, Skier 1/1000, 1/500
When your subject is moving, it is also a good idea to set Continuous (AI Servo for Canon) focus mode. This will ensure your auto-focus mechanism follows the subject in motion. Set a focusing point on your viewfinder, predicting where you would like to position your subject in the frame, or if in doubt, leave all focusing points selected and let the camera do the work, so you can concentrate in capturing the best moment.
You can also, instead of freezing, opt to capture movement (motion blur). For that you will need to slow down the shutter-speed and experiment with panning, for example, which will be covered in the next newsletter.
Upload your Sports images to the Flickr Gallery: ASSIGNMENT #6 for a chance to win a £150 Discount Voucher towards Courses and Workshops at LSP*.
Photo: Holger Pooten / Text: Luciana Franzolin