Lights, Camera, Action! How To Shoot Sports

Being a snap happy individual, there’s no doubt that you have your trusty DSLR on your back wherever you go. You might even pack a spare lens or two, some filters, your tripod and a backup battery in your Lowepro backpack. Any opportunity that arises for a great shot or two and you're there. Whether street photography, landscape shots or portraiture is your thing, you can always try your hand at something new. Capturing the action of sports can be trickier than a magician’s cupboard with the ISO settings, shutter speed and light all key factors in finding the perfect set up for that all-important shot. Take a look at how you can avoid the pitfalls of sports photography.

Research Your Event

It doesn’t matter whether your heading to the bright lights of Wimbledon, a local motorcycle racing event or a school sports day, you need to know how far away you will be from the main action. It’s key that you have at least 100mm or so of lens length for every 10m away you are from the sport. You also need to consider the weather on the day. Is it forecast to be overcast or will it be blazing sunshine? The position of the sun in the sky will have a huge impact on how you set up your camera for the day.

Down At The Track

If you’re keen to take a jaunt to a race track, there can be no better action shots than capturing the drama down at the hairpin. The roar of the crowd, the smell of the oil and the speed of the motorcycles can be nigh on impossible to grasp in a single shot, but capturing the atmosphere is possible. You’ll need to venture to the main source of all things biking and research your local meets. Local races rather than national events can see you getting closer to the track to get those incredible shots.

Find your Position

Whether you love tennis, golf, football or greyhound racing, you need to know your sport inside out. Consider where the best place is to get the most interesting shots. If you love your golf, why not head down to the tee to capture the drive of the club as the crowd blurs into a bokeh background. If you enjoy the action down at the athletics track, why not position yourself down at the finish line. Capturing a tense photo finish, the joy on the face of the winning athlete and the mid-air leap of the long jumper can generate a moment in time.

Freeze Frame Or Blur

You might want to create a crisp moment in time with no blur. This requires a high ISO setting, plenty of light entering the aperture and a speedy shutter speed. For the more artistic and creative shot, you might want to generate bokeh to capture motion. This is especially effective down at the rugby, on the soccer pitch or at a motorsport event. Slow down your shutter speed and put your DSLR on a tripod to stabilise your shots and you could find yourself with the most exceptionally inventive photographs.

While it can be difficult to try your hand at different forms of photography, it’s also a great way of learning new skills and enhancing your knowledge of your own camera. Next time there’s a local sporting event going on near you, head out with your camera and experiment to try and find the ultimate action shot.