Take Great Sports Photos

Fall is here and that means after-school sports are back. You’ll want to take great pictures as your young football or soccer stars play their best. But action photography can be tricky. Here are six tips that will help you shoot sports like a pro.

1. Stake Out Your Spot

The longer the zoom lens, the farther you can be from the action and still get an up-close photo. However, if you’re sitting in the nosebleed seats, focusing on the right object can be tough and even the slightest bit of movement will lead to a blurry photo. Your best bet is to emulate the professional sports photographers and stake out a seat as close to the field as possible. This “courtside” position puts you in the center of the action and your pictures will show it.

2. Set Your Camera for Action

Some cameras have a Sports mode designed to capture action shots. Using it cranks up the shutter speed, a sure way to minimize the blur of a moving object. If your camera doesn’t have a Sports mode, manually set the shutter speed as fast as possible. Using a continuous-shooting mode, which snaps a series of pictures in rapid succession, will help as well.

If your camera features a Continuous mode, it will capture shots for as long as you hold down the shutter button. This will help you time a shot perfectly. If, for example, you want to capture the moment a quarterback releases the football, start shooting when the ball is hiked and don’t stop until well after the ball is in the air. You can pick out the best shots after the game is over. Since the Continuous mode eats up a lot of space, be sure you’ve got plenty of room on your memory card.

3. Fill the Frame

Getting close lets you do the one thing that counts the most: Fill the frame with your subject, rather than picturing him or her as an indistinguishable figurine on a sea of green. When you frame your shot, get in tight and low: Remember, children are shorter than you, so you’ll want to crouch or even lie on the ground to get down to their level.

4. Forget the Flash

In the fast world of sports, a flash won’t do any good; in fact it will just slow down your camera, ensuring that you miss virtually every shot. If you need to lighten up your images, increase the aperture setting a notch or two. If you still need more detail, increase the ISO setting, but only to a level before noise (color speckles or snow) starts to creep into your shots.

5. Focus, Focus, Focus

Some cameras feature a Continuous Auto-Focus, or Continuous AF, mode. When you hold the shutter button halfway down it focuses on the subject at hand—and keeps focusing on that subject even when it moves around. Turn on this mode and your subject isn’t likely to run out of the focal point.

6. Mix It Up

Shoot vertically and horizontally, capture the entire field and get up close. Move positions to capture the game from both the sidelines and the end zone. You never know where the perfect shot will be found, so keep moving—right along with the kids you’re trying to photograph.

Photo Credits: Samsung

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