Sports photography is all about capturing slice of the most important and exciting movement in the fast action event. Generally, it is associated it with press photography. In a way, it is true. Both will not get a second chance. However, commercial sports photography has a good market for calendars, posters and book covers. It has a unique chance in photo contest.
Though photography of a sport event is mostly captured on a video, recording the feel of action on a single frame is not an easy task in still photography. We can use faster shutter speed to freeze the action, but that will kill the effect of life. Slower shutter speed will record the movement, but should never miss out the detail.
This looks a bit confusing but let us take an example. If we are shooting a racing car, then fast shutter speed like 1/4000 or 1/8000th of a second will freeze the action of moving car and we cannot distinguish, whether the car is moving or parked. On the other side, if we shoot at slower shutter speed like 1/15 or 1/30th of a second, the car will be recorded blurred in the photograph.
So the best way to deal in such case is "panning," Panning is a technique of shooting of a moving subject at slower shutter speeds and by moving the camera during exposure in such a way that the main subject remains sharp. We have to keep the main subject right in the center. Mount the camera on a sturdy tripod and follow the moving car by turning (panning) the camera. This will keep the car sharp and the movement will be recorded on the background. Effect will be created of a car, moving forward.
We have to be prepared and anticipate the peak of action. We can use tele-lens or zoom lens and compose the frame in advance. Set the camera on multi-frame or continuous shooting mode.
Certain sports are easier to shoot and will give us time to compose the frame properly. A weight lifter will pause for a fraction of a second before dropping the lifted weight. Athletes will pose and give nearly picture perfect expression before the start of a race. On the other end, moto-cross, polo or rugby match will not give you any chance to re-shoot. We will need lots of practice and a pinch of luck.
We may shoot with or across light, but shots against light are more artistic. It creates a good high light on the edges, which shows three dimensional quality. However, be sure for any lens flare. Use of a good quality lens hood can solve this problem, otherwise, cast a shadow on the lens with your hand.
Sports photography is full of fun and action, which we must exploit.
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