The Perfect Time for Sports Photography
This Fall our area has the good fortune of seeing our professional sports teams perform at their highest levels in years. While writing this article the Eagles are undefeated, the Sixers have their best team in two decades, and the Phillies are on their way to the World Series. It’s a magical time to be a sports fan and these times don’t come around very often. I’m going to give some tips on shooting sports since that’s all that’s been on my mind lately. These tips can apply to both professional and amateur sports. I’ll also provide some information as to what types of equipment you can bring into a professional sporting event based on my experience.
Camera settings for sports are simple, you need speed. Your camera’s shutter speed needs to be fast enough to freeze the action. There are two easy ways to achieve this. Almost every modern camera has a sports mode. In sports mode, the camera automatically selects a fast shutter speed, optimal autofocus, and keeps taking pictures as long as the shutter button is depressed. You will have a very high success rate shooting in sports mode. If you’re a little more advanced, then shooting in shutter priority mode might be an even better option. In this mode YOU select a shutter speed and the camera does everything else automatically. This provides you with a bit more customization than using sports mode. Typically a shutter speed of 1/500th suffices to freeze the action of most sports.
What type of lens you have in relation to where you’re sitting is something to consider. The further away you are the greater the focal length you will need. For amateur sports (like your kid games) you may have the ability to shoot from the sidelines. In this scenario you wouldn’t need as much reach. A lens that goes to 200mm may get the job done. If you’re in the stands or at a professional event chances are you will need a lens that reaches in the 400-600mm range. Whether you can actually bring a large set-up like that into the venue is another issue. I’ll cover that shortly. It’s also worth noting that you don’t necessarily need an interchangeable lens camera anymore to achieve good telephoto results. In the last few years there’s been a few (easy to use) smaller point and shoot cameras that provide almost professional-like results.
When photographing professional sports every team has its own rules in regards to what type of equipment you can bring in. The Phillies have the most relaxed rules. You’re permitted to bring a proper interchangeable lens camera as long as the lens isn’t so big it obstructs the view of the people around you. You may not bring in a tripod. If you have decent seats, you can really get some great shots at a Phillies game.
The Eagles have similar rules. You can bring in any still camera as long as the lens doesn’t exceed 6 inches long. The camera can not be in a case or bag. It’s worth noting that football doesn’t have seating as close to the field as baseball so getting good action shots is more challenging.
As for basketball, you’re only allowed to bring in a point and shoot camera. If you have the type of point and shoot with a lot of zoom and good seats you’re in luck. Otherwise, basketball is very tricky. The low light of an arena doesn’t help either. Basketball does offer seating closest to the playing area though. If you’re willing and able to spend the money, the action will be right in front of you. The game itself isn’t the only interesting thing to photograph at a sporting event. When I don’t have close enough access to the field, I find it just as satisfying to photograph the reactions of the crowd around me. For those types of shots any camera will do, even a phone. You can also try moving up real high into the nose bleeds and getting epic shots of the entire stadium or arena with just about any camera. These can look incredible-especially when a storm is rolling in at a Phillies game.
At New York Camera and Video we sell all the most current cameras and lenses. Feel free to stop by for an in-person demonstration. We also have everything available for rent. Sometimes renting makes more sense if you only need a telephoto lens for one specific event or if you’d like to try before you buy. Classes on how to use this equipment are available too. Sports photography is mainly about patience and having the right equipment. With the abundance of exciting live events going on in our region, now is the perfect time to get into sports photography. I anticipate this momentum carrying into next year as well. Enjoy it and photograph it. We all know too well in this area that historic runs like these eventually come to an end.
By Kenneth Taylor / firstname.lastname@example.org