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Are your friends par­tic­i­pat­ing in a mas­sive fun run and you want to take good pho­tos of them? Or are you invit­ed to a sim­i­lar event (city vol­ley­ball match, region­al cycling com­pe­ti­tion) as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er? How not to miss the start, not to blur any­thing impor­tant and take bright and inter­est­ing pho­tos of ath­letes, read in our mate­r­i­al.

Let’s make a reser­va­tion right away that this text is not about how to shoot at the Olympic Games. Where there are huge sta­di­ums, there are huge lens­es, a huge team that works togeth­er to get that very shot. Here we will focus more on shoot­ing ama­teur sports or medi­um-sized pro­fes­sion­al com­pe­ti­tions. And on the street: in sta­di­ums, in forests, fields and on the streets of the city. Shoot­ing sports indoors has its own pecu­liar­i­ties, we will not talk about them this time.

Open water swim / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

What is bet­ter to shoot sports on and what can you shoot sports on
What should be the shut­ter speed for shoot­ing sports and fast move­ment
Using Burst Mode in Sports Pho­tog­ra­phy
Cons and sub­tleties of con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing
Aper­ture when shoot­ing sports: shoot­ing on the closed, shoot­ing on the open
Focus­ing for sports pho­tog­ra­phy
Angles, best van­tage points, scenes and oth­er tips

What is better to shoot sports on and what can you shoot sports on

All sports can be con­di­tion­al­ly divid­ed into two groups. Hit the first game sportwhich occurs in one place (most often on the field). These are foot­ball, ten­nis, bas­ket­ball, vol­ley­ball and oth­ers. Here you can work at best along the edge of the field, you will not be able to cross its bor­ders.

Such sports are more con­ve­nient to shoot with tele­pho­to lens­es. And the larg­er the field, the longer the tele­pho­to should be. To get shots of indi­vid­ual ath­letes, and not just wide shots when shoot­ing foot­ball from the stands, the Canon EF 100–400mm will do.

And there are sports cyclic (run­ning, swim­ming, cycling, triathlon, Nordic walk­ing), where ath­letes move from start to fin­ish along any track. In these sports, there is usu­al­ly more room to maneu­ver because you can be on the track and be close enough to the ath­lete. At least in ama­teur com­pe­ti­tions.

Com­pe­ti­tions where you can get close enough are best shot with two lens­es. The stan­dard set for such shoot­ing is con­sid­ered to be a set of stan­dard zoom and tele­pho­to lens. The opti­mal focal length for a staffer is 24–70, for a zoom 70–200. You can shoot on fix­es, but then you have to run your­self. It is opti­mal for them to be more or less fast lens­es: with an aper­ture val­ue of 1.4, 1.8, 2.8.

You can shoot sports with very bud­get equip­ment. Shoot­ing on Nikon 5300 and kit lens. With good weath­er and a good angle, a com­plete­ly nor­mal pic­ture is obtained / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

As for choos­ing a cam­era, you should pay atten­tion to whether it has phase detec­tion aut­o­fo­cus (can be found in the instruc­tions or in the review for a spe­cif­ic cam­era) and how many focus points it has. The more dots, the bet­ter. Phase sen­sors are good, you are tor­ment­ed with a con­trast focus. At the very least, be pre­pared that it will be more dif­fi­cult to focus.

What should be the shutter speed for shooting sports and fast movement

Short. And now a lit­tle more:

  • if the per­son in the frame is not mov­ing too fast (jog­ging, walk­ing, doing yoga), a shut­ter speed of 1/250 will be enough;
  • if a per­son runs, jumps, dances, waves a rack­et, swims quick­ly, you should choose a shut­ter speed no longer than 1/500. It is bet­ter to set the same shut­ter speed for any chil­dren’s com­pe­ti­tions. For jump­ing and sim­i­lar ultra-fast move­ments, in some cas­es even 1/1000 is need­ed.

A life hack for those who shoot with bright lens­es: if you work out­doors, shoot in aper­ture pri­or­i­ty. At open aper­ture val­ues ​​​​(1.2, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8), the cam­era will auto­mat­i­cal­ly sub­sti­tute short shut­ter speeds. Most like­ly, even short­er than men­tioned above. At open aper­tures, there may be some focus issues. We will talk about them and how to deal with them fur­ther.

Shoot­ing wide open under the sun. Para­me­ters: F / 1.8, 1 / 16000, ISO 200. Blurred back­ground as a nice bonus from a light lens / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Using Burst Mode in Sports Photography

What is con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing? In nor­mal mode, you press a but­ton and the cam­era takes one frame. In ser­i­al mode, you press a but­ton and the cam­era takes 3 frames. Or 5, or 10, or 60 — depend­ing on which cam­era.

Why is it nec­es­sary? Let’s demon­strate on the clas­sic exam­ple of a one-legged run­ner.

When shoot­ing with­out a series, we have a high chance of get­ting only the left frame. With con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing, we can choose a pic­ture with the opti­mal pose and emo­tion / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Cons and subtleties of continuous shooting

There are a num­ber of things to keep in mind when shoot­ing in series so that there are no unpleas­ant sur­pris­es.

- A series is a greater con­sump­tion of space on the map and on disks. The more pic­tures you take, the larg­er mem­o­ry card you will need. And if shoot­ing with­out series weighed 5 GB, then with series it will be 25 GB. So you need a large hard dri­ve.

- A more time-con­sum­ing selec­tion of pho­tos awaits you. When 200 pic­tures are tak­en, it is easy to choose the best 10 from them. When 2000 is filmed, this process will take sig­nif­i­cant­ly longer.

- Burst speed and cam­era buffer. This is not a minus, it’s just the fea­tures of your cam­era that you need to get acquaint­ed with and cor­rect­ly apply it.

Each cam­era is able to make a series of a cer­tain length. For exam­ple, Nikon D5100 can take 3 frames per sec­ond, and Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M1 Mark III — 60. This is burst speed.

Anoth­er crit­i­cal para­me­ter is the cam­era buffer size. This is the num­ber of frames that the cam­era is able to write to inter­nal mem­o­ry before it starts sav­ing them to the card. How it works? Let’s take an exam­ple: you real­ly want to cap­ture the moment of a mass launch. In order not to miss it, you start shoot­ing a lit­tle ear­ly, the start is a lit­tle delayed. You shoot 20 frames of motion­less ath­letes, and at the moment of the actu­al start, the cam­era sad­ly blinks some kind of light and refus­es to shoot.

Don’t pan­ic, she did­n’t break. It hap­pens, it’s sad — but her buffer got clogged. In this way, we found out that 20 frames fit into the buffer, after which the cam­era starts record­ing the series on the card. This may take any­where from a cou­ple of sec­onds to sev­er­al min­utes depend­ing on the burst length and card speed.

There are moments that should not be missed / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

It is desir­able, of course, to find out the size of the buffer before you start shoot­ing some­thing impor­tant. It’s easy to do: we find a stop­watch on the mobile phone, turn on the cam­era, insert a blank card into it, turn on the series and press the shut­ter but­ton all the way. Until the cam­era just stops shoot­ing. We turn on the stop­watch and wait until the indi­ca­tor flash­es, indi­cat­ing that the record­ing to the card is in progress.

For some mod­els, this indi­ca­tor is nat­u­ral­ly a diode on the back of the cam­era, for some the record­ing is dis­played on the screen.

Thus, we find out the size of the cam­era buffer (how many frames were received on the card) and the record­ing speed of this num­ber of shots with this card. Cards are dif­fer­ent: infor­ma­tion is record­ed faster on some, slow­er on oth­ers. The test should be car­ried out with your spe­cif­ic equip­ment.

Aperture when shooting sports: shooting on the closed, shooting on the open

There is an eter­nal dis­pute — at what aper­ture val­ues ​​\u200b\u200bit is nec­es­sary to shoot the dynam­ics of the type of sport, open or closed. Each point of view has the right to exist, each has plus­es and minus­es. Here every­one choos­es for him­self what is clos­er.

When shoot­ing on a closed aper­ture:

  • it is much eas­i­er to focus (even if there is a miss in focus, it is almost imper­cep­ti­ble);
There is a slight error in focus in this pic­ture. If you look close­ly, the focus is not on the run­ners in the fore­ground, but on the house in the back. But a closed aper­ture for­gives these mis­takes. Most like­ly, the audi­ence will not notice the prob­lem / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert
  • the whole scene is in focus (this can be good if you are shoot­ing a group of ath­letes and you want to show that there are a lot of them).

But there are down­sides:

  • the per­son blends into the back­ground (it can be bad if you are try­ing to shoot one par­tic­u­lar ath­lete, then a sharp back­ground will inter­fere with you).
  • the pic­ture becomes sim­i­lar to the pic­ture from the phone.
  • when shoot­ing in aper­ture pri­or­i­ty, the cam­era can auto­mat­i­cal­ly sub­sti­tute longer shut­ter speeds, pro­vok­ing blur. You can shoot in full man­u­al mode. But then you have to con­stant­ly adjust the ISO, shut­ter speed and aper­ture for a spe­cif­ic frame. Or fix the para­me­ters and risk under­light (for exam­ple, in a sit­u­a­tion where you first shot under the sun, and then went into the shade of trees).

Shoot­ing sports wide open is a big­ger chal­lenge for the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. This approach has a num­ber of advan­tages:

  • expen­sive pro­fes­sion­al pic­ture. If you look at any sports stock, there will be a lot of shots on a wide aper­ture tele­pho­to with a blur­ry back­ground;
Such pho­tos are appre­ci­at­ed. They are con­sid­ered more pro­fes­sion­al and sell bet­ter / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert
  • short expo­sures by default. We talked about this at the begin­ning of the text;
  • it is eas­i­er to shoot in poor light­ing con­di­tions: it is pos­si­ble to keep a fast shut­ter speed with­out rais­ing the ISO and avoid­ing noise.

And there are cons:

  • First and fore­most, focus issues. If a mis­take on a closed aper­ture is not so ter­ri­ble, then an open one does not for­give such errors;
Focus errors are espe­cial­ly notice­able when shoot­ing with tele­pho­to lens­es. Such pic­tures are a clear mar­riage / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

- the cost of high-aper­ture lens­es. Let’s com­pare Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 and Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM. Ten times the price dif­fer­ence;

– Dif­fi­cul­ties with shoot­ing in bright sun­light. If your cam­era does not have an elec­tron­ic shut­ter, and the small­est shut­ter speed for a mechan­i­cal one is 1/4000, you will not shoot at 1.4 under the sun. Every­thing will be illu­mi­nat­ed.

By the way, the last prob­lem can be dealt with with the help of neu­tral fil­ters. We wind the ND fil­ter on the lens and calm­ly shoot under the sun.

Focusing for sports photography

If an ath­lete is mov­ing towards you, it’s best to use con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus (on most AF‑C or C‑AF sys­tems) if your cam­era has one. If not, try to do short bursts and refo­cus in between. In a sit­u­a­tion where a per­son moves ran­dom­ly inside the field, con­tin­u­ous focus is not help­ful. It is bet­ter to use the usu­al sin­gle shot (AF‑S).

If shoot­ing pro­file shots, use sin­gle focus (AF‑S) and focus ear­ly and wait for the ath­lete to run into the frame. For exam­ple, it is pos­si­ble on a stone that lies on a path along which a per­son moves, or on a branch under which he will soon­er or lat­er run.

Catch­ing an ath­lete in pro­file is a dif­fi­cult task. It may not work from the first take / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Fol­low the light. If you are shoot­ing on a sun­ny day, it is eas­i­er to focus on the direct and side sun. In the back­light, you can get very beau­ti­ful and inter­est­ing pic­tures, espe­cial­ly if it is low.

Fin­ish at sun­set / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Angles, best vantage points, scenes and other tips

As with any reportage, a vari­ety of angles will dec­o­rate the shoot­ing. There are sev­er­al uni­ver­sal work­ing options that can be used in almost any shoot­ing.

Bot­tom angle. Almost any sport is best shot from a low point. Some­where around the knee. If weath­er per­mits, sit on the ground. If it’s real­ly good, the asphalt has warmed up from the sun, lie down on your stom­ach. Pic­tures will only ben­e­fit from this. The main thing is that no one steps on you.

Let’s com­pare two pic­tures. The first one was tak­en from a height, the sec­ond one I shoot sit­ting on the ground / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

The low­er angle is good regard­less of whether you are shoot­ing close up with a wide-angle or stan­dard lens, or with a tele­pho­to lens from afar.

View from above. It is well suit­ed for tele­pho­to shoot­ing of large groups of peo­ple. The com­pressed space cre­ates the feel­ing of a crowd.

Mass start on TV. View from the bridge / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

If you are shoot­ing a per­son who is run­ning in your direc­tion, try to catch him as much as pos­si­ble from the front. Such shots look more con­fi­dent than those where you can see that a per­son is run­ning strong­ly past you.

If it is pos­si­ble to arrive in advance and inspect the com­pe­ti­tion site, it is bet­ter to do so. Choose points, fig­ure out where to shoot from, where the sun will come from if it is, where you will go to hide if it rains.

Cap­ture archi­tec­ture and land­scapes. It dec­o­rates the shoot­ing / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Spec­i­fy the rules and reg­u­la­tions of the com­pe­ti­tion in advance. For exam­ple, you shoot vol­ley­ball and suf­fer from the fact that one team is stand­ing in the sun, and the sec­ond is con­stant­ly against it. If, accord­ing to the rules, they change places in the sec­ond half, you can not waste time shoot­ing the sec­ond one in more los­ing con­di­tions. In the first half, pay more atten­tion to the first team, in the sec­ond — to the sec­ond.

If you are shoot­ing as an offi­cial pho­tog­ra­ph­er, check with the orga­niz­ers which fences are allowed (and safe) to enter and which are not. If you shoot the start and fin­ish of any race, be care­ful and polite: you should not rush right under the feet of an ath­lete with a wide angle, even for the coolest shot. You should not stand strict­ly in the path of the fin­ish­ing cyclist — they have a long brak­ing dis­tance. They’ll take it down.

Do not stand on the inside of the fences dur­ing mass starts, even if you are an offi­cial pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Even if it seems to you that peo­ple see every­thing and go around you. Twen­ty-five peo­ple round­ed. And if the crowd is dense, they can eas­i­ly knock you down, which is fraught with injuries for both the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and the ath­lete. It is best to choose a point near the end of the start­ing area fences.

The start is eas­i­est to shoot on a tele­pho­to from a dis­tance from the waist lev­el or on a reg­u­lar lens (from below and a lit­tle to the side) / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

You can shoot not only the sports com­pe­ti­tions them­selves. Pic­tures from the warm-up, pic­tures of ath­letes rest­ing between halves or after the fin­ish of the race will dec­o­rate the shoot­ing. A cer­tain num­ber of staged shots will not be super­flu­ous.

Hap­py ath­letes after the fin­ish / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

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