When taking sports shots with an SLR camera you’ll need to realize there are three important settings to manipulate if you want to capture clear, crisp images. These are the ISO, the shutter speed and the aperture.
Basically, if you change one of these settings you’ll affect the three of them. If you’re taking shots outside and there’s plenty of light, it’s better to use a low ISO setting for less grainy photos. If you set the aperture wide open, (the lowest number on the F-stop) you can then try to set the shutter speed faster since the camera will be letting in the most light possible.
If you don’t have much light to work with you can then try setting the ISO to a higher number. As long as you’re getting enough light you should be able to set the shutter speed for sports shots at a minimum of 1/500th of a second.
You may want to experiment and go faster or even slower until you can freeze the action to your satisfaction. If there isn’t much light, you might have to settle for about 1/250th of a second.
With the aperture being open, the depth of field will be shallower and this will let you focus on the athletes while the people and objects in the background won’t be in focus to distract your viewer. A good sports action photo needs to be in sharp focus.
With athletes that are constantly moving you should use the continuous focusing option on your digital camera. If your camera has a back-button focusing method this is recommended.
With most sports shots, you won’t have a chance to set up a tripod. However, if you have the time and the room, go for it. If you’re holding the camera in your hands you’ll need to keep it as steady as possible, especially considering the fast shutter speed you’re using. If your camera lens has an image-stabilizing option you should definitely employ it.
If you have the chance you should also move around. It doesn’t matter how good or big your lens is, the best images are typically taken from close to mid-range. Also different angles and perspectives can be utilized by moving your position. Remember, you can take both vertical and horizontal photos.
While everyone has their own preferences, it’s generally considered that some of the better sports photos capture the emotion on people’s faces, either the players’and/or fans’, or they include the ball or puck etc.
If the picture lets the viewer know what’s happening, you’ve got most of the battle won. When you get home you can always improve the shots by cropping them tightly on a photo-editing program. However, some photos will benefit from the inclusion of negative space. You can also sharpen some of the shots if they seem to be slightly out of focus.
Don’t be afraid to keep shooting while at a sports event. You may end up taking hundreds of photos and only one in 10 might be considered a good one. Don’t let this get you down though as this is often the norm in sports photography, even with professional photographers.