Sports photography is both challenging and rewarding. What an exhilarating feeling it is to get in amongst the fast-paced action and capturing those epic moments, freezing them in time. If you’re into photography, and shooting portraits and nature shots are feeling a little stale then sports photography is definitely something that you should explore. Here is where you capture the determination, passion, character and emotion. Throw in some frustration and exciting atmosphere and you don’t only have photos to share, you’re telling a story.
Sports photographers are able to get right into the action and capture those epic moments in fields, courts and arenas that will never be repeated again.
There really isn’t a definitive guide on how to get started. Sport is certainly unpredictable, you need passion, focus and also great timing as anything can happen within a matter of seconds in sport. Sounds a bit daunting? It really isn’t. It definitely requires practice and even a little bit of luck, but with patience and persistence, you’ll be an aspiring sports photographer in no time.
With these 5 useful tips and your trusty Nikon d7200, you will be on your way to be an aspiring sports photographer with your own unique style in no time.
Nikon d7200 is perfect for sports photography indoors and out, as you’re able to capture the essence of any subject whether it be your sporting hero, coach or even the incredible atmosphere. You’re not just taking happy snaps, you’re capturing a series of events and turning them into an epic story.
Position Yourself Correctly And Know Your Sport
The way you position yourself while capturing memorable moments is almost as important as your Nikon d7200! When you arrive at an event, you need to consider all of your angles as well as the position of the sun. For the best pictures, try to position yourself with the sun behind your back.
If it’s possible, you want to position yourself where the players are coming towards you. You want to capture the passion and soul of the game as well as the determined expressions of the players. Get amongst it all! In saying that, you also need to keep a few things in mind.
When you’re new to a sport, you are completely unaware of the risks. Will I get in the way? Will I be putting others at risk? Am I a distraction to the players? These are all questions to consider. You don’t want to be one of those obnoxious photographers. Do your research, we all have the luxury or having a plethora of information at our fingertips. These days, there are more than enough internet resources to get information from. All you have to do is a simple Google search. Better yet, be a spectator. Attend a game! Enjoy it from the sidelines. Watch it, feel it and most importantly learn from it.
It is definitely in your best interest to learn the game. If you have knowledge of the game, your pictures will be a lot better than if you just come in and blindly take a few snaps. Knowing the game will help you anticipate the action and get your perfect shot. Knowledge is power!
Take Lots And Lots Of Photos
This. Take lots of photos. Then take some more. There is no doubt that you will have a hefty memory card with a tonne of storage in your Nikon d7200. So go for it! You’ll make mistakes and you’ll learn from them. You’ll also find some gems in amongst these mistakes and quite possibly, your perfect shot.
The less photos you take, the less chances you’ll have of getting ‘the’ shot. Who said that there is anything wrong with coming home with 2000 pictures from a sports event? Taking minimal shots decreases your chances of a successful photo. Have fun and play around with your camera. Vary the composition, timing and exposure for each photo, and it will give you more options in choosing the best of the bunch.
Your Nikon d7200 has the amazing function of continuous burst shots. Take advantage of this, in this mode your camera will be able to take a continuous burst of images as long as you’re holding down the shutter button. This works particularly well when trying to capture a fast-paced moment in sports photography. An important thing to note whilst in continuous burst mode is that you need to wait a moment between taking those shots and turning off your camera. Turning off your camera prematurely following taking a burst of shots could corrupt your image files. You’ll notice a little memory card access file light on the back of the camera. Wait for this to go out before switching off your camera, otherwise heartache will surely await!
Do NOT Use Full Automatic Mode.
Automatic mode is designed to make picture taking simple. However, there is a time and a place for automatic mode and using this function is sports photography, is not one of them.
In this mode, the camera analyzes the scene and selects what it considers the most appropriate setting to capture your image. Sounds like your safest option, right? Not necessarily. Being in automatic mode prevents you from accessing your cameras many wonderful features. You’ll notice that a lot of your options are dimmed in the camera menus, they will be completely inaccessible.
In the initial stages of your photography journey, automatic mode makes capturing pictures a breeze. But there is no doubt you will come to a point where it just doesn’t cut it. This mode will make all of the decisions for you, where is the fun in that? What on earth is the point of having an expensive camera if you can’t take advantage of all of the available functions that come along with it?
Don’t get me wrong, automatic mode can be great. But if all you do is shoot in automatic mode, save your money and use a cheap camera instead. Half the fun of owning a Nikon d7200 is taking advantage of the many functions that come along with it! Another downfall of using automatic mode is that your camera will decide when it is appropriate to use the flash. This isn’t ideal, as most sports photographers are positioned a distance away from all of the action and this would also cause more of a distraction than anything else.
Shoot From A Low Angle, Such As Your Knees And Use A Monopod
The best piece of advice for any aspiring photographer? Shoot low! If you’re brand sparkling new to the wonderful world of photography, maybe you cringe a little (or a lot) when seeing photographers down on their knees while taking shots. And seeing someone lay flat on their stomachs might make you cringe a little harder. Why on earth are they doing this!? There is definitely a method behind this madness. I promise you, your shots will be a million times better if you’d just drop to a knee, or even two. I’ll explain why.
By using low angles, you can capture your subject without all of the background noise. Using a low angle also makes your subjects look more powerful. Everyone is so used to seeing the world at eye-level, so taking your shot from a low angle with your camera creates shots that are unique and that also eliminate all of the unnecessary background noise. Think of most of the sports photographs that you’ve taken standing up: Does your subject look strong and empowered?
If you want to make your subjects look mighty, dominant and powerful, almost like Superman – take the shot from a low angle.
If you feel a little uncoordinated taking those low shots, you may benefit from a monopod. A monopod is a single-legged support that is used to steady a handheld camera. It will support the weight of your Nikon d7200 allowing you to use it more comfortably. It will also help to stabilize your camera, resulting in a much sharper picture.
Use A Fast Shutter Speed
What shutter speed is fast enough? Well, that depends on your subject of course!
Freezing an ultimate sporting moment in time is key to getting that perfect shot. Nikon d7200’s 1/1800 shutter speed is fast enough to capture those epic sporting moments. Fast shutter speeds are particularly useful when trying to capture photos of things moving fast, eg: majority of things relating to sports photography. If your shutter speed isn’t fast enough, your image will be blurred. If you’re shooting fast-paced sports it is crucial that your shutter speed is set correctly so that no movement is captured during that super short period of time.
To begin with, start with a shutter speed of 1/500 per second. Take a few shots and refer back to them to see how sharp your pictures are. Not sharp enough? Perhaps your subject is moving too fast. The faster your subject is moving, the faster you need to set your shutter speed.
Just like all things in sports photography, being a pro at using shutter speed to your advantage will take a bit of practice. Maybe a lot. But that’s ok! You might want to try to use varied shutter speeds on the same subject to hit that “sweet spot”. Deciding on which shutter speeds to use will be trial and error initially. This is also why taking lots of pictures is necessary. It really may seem daunting to begin with, even frustrating. But once you master the powerful tool of shutter speeds, you will get that perfect shot. Another reason to get out of automatic mode and get creative!