Certainly, the momentous, spectacular images are those captured in sports. They represent moments of power and motion, unpredictable wins and losses, and historic scenes that will forever change the world.
Sports photography is clearly an intense, yet a fulfilling field of art. For one, you can’t miss taking a vivid shot of an athlete in action. If you are an aspiring sports photographer, what you need is a good camera and a solid technique to get the most out of every sport you want to shoot.
There are three features to take note in finding a good camera for sports. First, the camera body has to be durable and prepared for the challenges of adventure sports. Second is weight. The lighter and more compact the camera is, the easier it is to balance and pack. Third is the speed. A faster shutter feed and a faster autofocus amplify the movement and clarity of the subject.
The technique for capturing sports action is to work the three elements in the exposure triangle. These are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Each has its own function and impact on the image produced and involves controlling the light passing through the camera’s eye.
For a starter like you, you can use a Nikon D5600 camera. It’s DSLR fit for capturing subjects in action. It has the qualities fit for sports photography- high limit shutter speed, fine details in high maximum ISO, fast autofocus, cross-type focus sensors, good ergonomics and handling, and good battery life.
To learn more, here is a beginner’s guide to capturing a great sports photograph:
Adjust To A Faster Shutter Speed
In sports photography, the most basic technique that emphasizes movement is a faster shutter speed. The shutter speed is the length of time, measured in seconds (e.g. 1 sec, ½ sec,1/250 sec) the camera’s shutter opens to allow light to pass through the image sensor.
Take note that a faster shutter speed allows minimal light to enter, whereas a slower shutter speed will allow more light coming in. By controlling the shutter speed, you can change the way the moving subject is captured. Clear action shots are obtained by increasing the shutter speed with less light coming through, whereas, a slower shutter speed will blur the subject in the direction of motion. If you want to freeze the movement, adjust the settings to Shutter Priority mode, and choose 1/1000 of a second. Take a few test shots and periodically check the image as you go.
Although sharper images are achieved with fast shutter speeds, this is only convenient in a bright outdoor setting, make sure you know how to adjust your ISO settings when capturing in low-lit fields.
Nikon D5600 camera is a smart way for a beginner to develop this technique. This model has a maximum shutter speed limit of 1/4000. Imagine how many sharp images you can seize, as long as you have good lighting! Using the mode “S” in the exposure-mode knob, you can manually choose the shutter speed and the camera will adjust the aperture for optimal exposure.
Select Aperture Priority Mode
Another basic element that a beginner must know is the aperture. This setting controls the size of the opening in the lens. It is measured in f- stops (eg. f/2.8, f/4/, etc) or fractional stops. The smaller the value, the larger the aperture or opening, and vice versa.
Adjusting the aperture will control the depth of field (DOF) in the photo. A large depth of field implies that you are catching most of the image regardless of the distance. Small or shallow depth of field happens when the camera focuses on an object in motion while the rest of the background is blurred.
In sports photography, you can create a background blur by producing a shallow depth of field. With this set up, you are building an image with a foreground, mid-ground, and background. Focusing on the player or a ball in motion while putting all the rest of the image into a blur gives a more dramatic effect and dimension.
The aperture-priority mode in DSLRs allows for full control over aperture. In this mode, the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed to achieve optimum exposure. Because you want to a sharp image with a faster shutter speed, your goal is to adjust to maximum aperture. To allow the camera to adapt to changes in exposure, you can choose Auto ISO.
Nikon D5600 has the aperture-priority mode, allowing the photographer to decide the value of the aperture to achieve the desired background blur. Denoted as “A” in the exposure mode, all you need to do is turn the knob to this setting and you will be shooting like a pro.
Turn To Fast Auto Focus And Burst Mode
Autofocus is another great trick to capture sports images especially in areas with a lot of contrast. Among the autofocus modes, you can use AF-C (continuous) for sports photography, which means it will automatically focus on objects in motion and keep them sharp. With this setting, you don’t have to manually focus your lens and miss out taking vivid photos of athletes in motion.
The accuracy of the autofocus is affected by the number of AF points the camera possesses. This makes Nikon D5600 a good candidate for sports photography because of its exceptionally fast autofocus tracking and continuous shooting. Speed and accuracy of focusing are achieved because of two features, Contrast Detection and Phase Detection Autofocus. The Autofocus system has 39-focus points. Nine of these are cross-type sensors which lock focus faster and more accurately.
Burst mode or continuous shooting allows you to produce a sequence of multiple shots in one shutter click. While your shutter button is being pressed, the camera will keep taking a sequence of images. This allows you to increase your chances of shooting a perfectly timed killer shot.
Just watch out for your camera’s memory getting used up. You can check your camera how quick the burst mode is. Nikon D5600 can take up to 5 continuous shots in one second with burst mode on. The burst mode is usually adjusted with autofocus mode. The tip here is to focus, shoot, and then keep shooting.
Watch Your ISO
ISO sets the camera to brighten or darken an image. By increasing the ISO number, you are also increasing the image brightness. This is most useful in shooting indoor sports with low light set up. Just be careful though, because setting an ISO value too high may produce a grainy texture or “noise” on your shots. Adjusting ISO mode will be the last tool to use once you’ve optimized the shutter speed and aperture.
ISO range differs in every camera. You need to know the base ISO, which is the lowest setting that allows you to get the highest quality, and therefore, reduce as much noise as possible. The rule of thumb is to stick to the base ISO for optimum quality.
In sports photography, using the fastest shutter speed can minimize the amount of light to pass through your image sensor, which often results to blurred and dim photos. By increasing the ISO, you can produce brighter and sharper images even in low-lit areas. Setting your camera to Auto-ISO mode sets the highest ISO limit you want the camera while avoiding grainy textures on your images.
Nikon D5600 is a good camera of choice if you want an optimum ISO capability at the same time satisfying noise reduction even at higher ISO settings. You’d still see fine details at an ISO level of 1600. If you set the ISO to 3200, you can still produce good images, with very slight grainy texture. With Nikon D5600, you are confident to capture movement in low light set up and higher shutter speeds without compromising the clarity of your images!
Shoot From A Low Angle
Shooting sports action is all about adjusting the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings. But the lesson doesn’t end there. You need to find a specific spot in the field where you can take a photo with a perspective. Shooting from a low angle allows a more dramatic scene as if you are seeing that movement on eye-level. People will be drawn to sports photos that not only have sharp images, nice depth of field, but also a perspective.
Rarely will you see professional sports photographers shoot standing up. Most of them are kneeling or have tripods with them, they want to get a good grip of that camera and an angle that will elevate their photos with an excellent depth.
Low-angle shooting allows motion blur and sharper details. Players look more powerful and massive adding more dimension to your captured images. It also minimizes background clutters, for instance, getting rid of blown sky while shooting some action in a football field.
You can use a monopod to hold your camera’s weight or kneel. With Nikon D5600, the camera itself very light and handy for stable, low-angle shooting. Adjusting the aperture to produce more depth in your image will enhance your low angle perspective. You can always review your images as you go.