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Rio 2016 Frenzy: Sports Photography Tips

With the Rio Olympics just around the corner, here are some sports photography tips to help you capture your own sports themed imagery.

| Sports and Action

About Author: Gvido Grube 

Gvido writes interesting and educational blog pieces for, a website where you can transform your stunning sports photography into wall art.



Rio 2016 Frenzy: Sports Photography Tips: Pitch


With the sports frenzy ignited by the incoming Rio Olympics (commonly regarded as Rio 2016), everything sports-related has gained a new kind of appreciation.

The Olympics are a huge moment for everyone involved, from the sweat-clad athlete in the dressing room waiting to hit the mark to the photographer beside the track, hoping that his next shot will be the one to embellish the cover of the TIME magazine, and even though you're not there with your camera, that doesn't mean you can't have your 5 minutes in the spotlight. Be it a photo you've captured in a stadium or one that was taken at your local basketball court, you too can capture an awesome example of sports photography and to help you do this, here are a few sports photography tips from blogger Gvido Grube. 


The Rules

If you are attending a big stadium event, there are usually rules and regulations you must follow in regards to the camera kit you can take in so do take a look at the venue's website or contact them directly to clarify the rules before you go. For example, I took a quick look at the guidelines for London 2012 where compact cameras, smartphones and DSLRs were allowed as long as they were of a reasonable size (kit had to fit within a bag of 30x20x20cm, a perfect fit for something like the Nikon D800 and a 24-70mm lens). 

Once at the event, there might be some rules in place on the use of flash so do look out for signs. If flash isn't allowed, trying bumping up your ISO level or if you have access to a fast lens, make sure it's packed in your bag. Keep in mind, though, that depending on the age of your device, noise could start creeping into your images. However, newer cameras do handle noise much better now. 


Rio 2016 Frenzy: Sports Photography Tips: Running


Shutter Speeds 

Most athletes will be moving rather quickly so you're going to need a fairly fast shutter speed to ensure they're not captured in frame as a streak of blur (although, creatively, this can sometimes work). But equally, you don't want to use a shutter speed that's so high that it just freezes everything and as a result, the shot looks static. A better technique, if you're in the right spot to do so, is to select a slower speed and follow the subject as you take the photograph. This is panning


Rio 2016 Frenzy: Sports Photography Tips: Car


Lens Choices 

When it comes to sports photography, the age old saying of 'the bigger the better' actually often applies. You've no doubt seen the hoards of photographers shooting from the sidelines at football matches with their huge lenses attached to a camera. However, unless you have a press pass dangling around your neck, you probably won't get your uber-telephoto into the stadium. Of course, local sporting events could be different and that's why it's worth checking what kit's allowed to be used before the match / event happens. If you can take longer lenses with you, you might want to try out the 400mm Canon or indeed the Nikon 70-300mm for its reasonable price and quality.

Sports events just like all big gatherings, such as music festivals, are a great place to capture shots that show the sheer scale of the event as well as the sense of spirit and atmosphere of the place. For shots like these, you're going to want a wide-angle lens or try using the built-in panorama mode to capture a sweeping shot of the crowd. 


Rio 2016 Frenzy: Sports Photography Tips: Stadium


A Few More Tips: 

  • Avoid following the ball with your camera. Instead, try to predict where it may go, or fix on a player who just lost it to get a great reaction shot.
  • Hit the shutter just before the action begins as shutter lag can mean you miss the key shot. Using continuous shooting mode can help prevent this, too. 
  • If you know something’s going to happen in a particular area, pre-focus there so you're ready to capture the shot. 
  • And, of course, avoid toppling down Usain Bolt with your segway scooter!
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