The sound of a ball hitting a bat and the gentle applause that goes around the ground as the ball heads for a six are two of the sounds that a lot of people would describe as a perfect British Summer's day. But cricket's not all about sitting back in your deckchair and enjoying afternoon tea. For one match, try taking your camera kit along with your sandwiches and crossword puzzle and you'll soon be wondering why you didn't pack it sooner.
To get in among the action without sitting on the pitch you'll need a fast, long lens. A zoom lens around the 70-200mm
mark will do nicely but you may need something slightly longer if you're at a particularly large ground. Pack a wide angle such as a 28mm
to capture the whole scene and if you have a monopod you might want to think about taking that along with you. It's easier to move with a monopod than a tripod and the extra support will also help reduce camera shake when using slower shutter speeds.
Once you find your spot, which we'll talk about in a minute, it's best to stay put as you don't want to be walking or even sitting behind the bowler as you'll just get lots of complaints. When it comes to the prime photographic position, a batter can hit the ball anywhere but if we look at a cricket ground like it's a clock and put a right-handed batter on 6 you need to find a spot between 12 and 3 to give yourself the best chance of capturing the batsman in action. Make sure you pay attention to the background when you're picking your location too as parked cars and advertisements can spoil a shot, no matter how out of focus they are. If you have a darkish background you'll have to pay attention to your exposure as a dark scene dotted with people dressed in white cricket kit can confuse the camera and your teams can end up shining like lights on Christmas trees. If this happens try underexposing the shot by ½ to a stop.
Of course you're going to want to capture the action and this is where knowing your sport well will help know-end. If you're a cricket fan you'll already be able to second guess when exciting moments will occur but if cricket's not your sport take a look through sport magazines and websites to give yourself ideas on what sorts of shots work well.
If you want to freeze the action you'll need fast shutter speeds and a wide aperture to stop blur. But don't think you have to use quick shutter speeds all of the time as adding a little blur into your shot will emphasis the movement and action in the scene. Try blurring the bowler's arm as they deliver the ball or the movement of the bat as the batter swings. Quicken the shutter speed to a moderate pace and you'll be able to pan with the bowler as they make their run up for the delivery. If you find it hard to keep up put your camera on continuous shooting mode to give you a better chance of capturing a good action shot.
As well as the batters and bowlers don't forget to grab the other team members and the action off pitch: Batters padding up, the long walk back to the club house after getting out, tea, the scoreboard and the crowd aren't about someone whacking a ball for six but they are an important part of the day. Don't forget to pick up the player information list either as you'll need to know who's who in your shots if you want to add captions to them.
To ensure the colour you capture is the colour you keep, use Datacolor - the Colour Management Experts.
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