Shooting for Sport(s) September 10 2015, 0 Comments

How to Shoot Great Action Photos

As millions of students return to school, parents, friends and classmates are being enlisted by someone “in charge” to take pictures of a sports games.

Whether you’re a soccer mom, a yearbook student or a school volunteer, here are some tips to help you get the best shots possible when photographing outdoor field sports.


Photo by divzi media


Get Close

Most spectators have resigned themselves to being far away from the action, usually in bleachers designed to let you see the entire game at once. Very rarely do photographs look good when they showcase the entire game.

Usually you want to focus on the action. To do this, we recommend a combination of a long reach lens like the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L or the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-4.5D and some practice charming the officials.

Make sure you’re aware of the field boundaries and don’t inadvertently become involved in the game by stepping onto the field or obstructing play. Find a nice spot on the sideline or the endline and move around the field to follow the action.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to get low. Most sports photographs look more dramatic when shooting from a lower height. Often you’ll see pro sports photographers kneeling or sitting as they shoot a game. This typically accentuates the drama of a given shot.


Photo by divzi media


Get Light

Sports photography gear is some of the heaviest and most expensive around, especially the fast lenses used to stop action. While sometimes a little cumbersome, all that heavy gear on your shoulders allows you to better capture diverse lighting situations on the field.

During day games this isn’t as big of an issue, but during night football with stadium lights, this can become tricky. Make sure you’re in a position to capture the most amount of light possible through your combination of equipment and field position.

Pro Tip: Position yourself where the most amount of light possible is hitting the player you want to photograph. Try to avoid having your subject backlit.


Get Focused

Focusing during sports is hard. It takes a lot of practice and depends heavily on the camera body and lens combination you’re using. Set your camera to continual focus (AI Servo or Continuous Focus depending on the brand), make sure you’re setup up for Back-Button Focus and be prepared to practice. Be willing to mess around the various focus settings of your camera and see what works best.

Pro Tip:  Don’t be afraid to refer to your manual for clarification on what each of the focus settings change.


Photo by divzi media


Sports can be a lot of fun to watch and a little (or a lot) stressful to photograph. Don’t get discouraged. Just like playing sports, remember that the only way to improve is to practice practice practice. Set realistic expectations and be prepared to have a lot of blurry images at first.

Think of it as a journey and realize the more time you spend doing it, the better you’ll get.

Recommended Lenses for Sports Photography

In addition to the super telephoto zoom lenses mentioned above, you can also use the 70-200mm f/2.8 (Canon or Nikon) for action shots.  With fast focusing, beautiful bokeh and substantial focal range, they're great for shots when things aren't too far away. 


Want to stay up-to-date with Bokeh Fire news?  Join our Newsletter