Everyone at some point has taken a sports photograph. It doesn't matter if it's a shot of a famous football player scoring a goal or your child winning the egg and spoon race, they're both action shots and to perfect them, you just need to know a few tricks.
Your DSLR and a telephoto
or long zoom
lens are the best pieces of kit to have. In fact, if you don't own a zoom lens, Warehouse Express
are giving away a free 55-200mm lens when you buy a Sony Alpha A550 Digital SLR Camera plus 18-55mm Lens. Take your wide angle lens along for the team and prize-giving shots and you'll find a tripod
and remote trigger handy for capturing shots you can't take yourself such as at the end of a running track at a sports day event. Take your flash along just incase but a lot of sporting events don't allow it so check with officials first.
Before you arrive you need to know and understand your sport. I know this might sound a little silly for a quick sprint at your son or daughter's sports day but knowing where they'll be on the track and when will help you know where to position yourself for the best photograph. It will also give you the opportunity to pre-focus on a spot they'll run into so you'll get a sharp image. Also, make sure you hit the shutter button before the action happens as there's always a delay and even though it may only be a split second, this can be the difference between a perfect shot and an empty frame.
It doesn't matter if you're at a Sunday football match, at a school field for an event your child's taking part in or are off to watch something a little more professional, you need to arrive early and scout out the best location for you and your camera. You obviously need to find a position that's perfect for capturing the action but you also want a place where the background won't be distracting. It's always great to be as close to the action as possible but don't be stepping over barriers and upsetting officials though.
Shoot wide open as you'll be using fast shutter speeds and it will help you isolate your subject from the background. Using a fast-ish shutter speed will help you freeze the action but sometimes a little blur, which you get by slowing the shutter speed down, can be creative and give your image the impression of speed. Try blurring the action of a cricketer swinging their bat or blurring the arms and legs of a runner as they make their way down the track.
As you're capturing action try panning to capture the action. You need to make sure your subject is always in the same part of your frame, use a faster shutter speed so the image is exposed for less time and twist from the waist, keeping your arms into your body for the whole pan. Panning can be tricky to get right so it might be worth having a few tries at it before you get to the event you want to photograph.
You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.