This week’s challenge is to get outside and do some sports photography. Sports photography is the part of photojournalism that’s typically concerned with getting photos of sports – football, cricket, rugby, that kind of thing.
The first kind of sports photo (and the one I’m pushing as what you should be after in this challenge) is the action shot. This should ideally tell some sort of story about what’s happening in the match. For instance, in the running photo, it appears that the runner is racing some motorbikes – this is interesting. The first football photo shows a diving header getting past the keeper to score a goal. If it wasn’t a goal it would still be an interesting photograph, but it would lose some gravitas as a result. The second is showing a defender just screaming his head off as he flies in towards an attacker. In this game, the yellow team got very aggressive and physical, and this photo encapsulates that perfectly.
With this kind of photograph, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you should have a relevant face in the photo. Sports photos lose a lot of impact when there’s no easily identifiable person. Second, if you’re shooting a sport with a ball (or some other equipment), the ball should be in the photo.
The second kind of sports photo is the celebration shot. After a goal has been scored, or a penalty saved, or the game won, players often react exuberantly. I’ve included a couple of examples of this kind of shot. With good positioning (say near the bench), these kind of photos are some that are possible without decent gear.
The third kind of sports photo is the reaction shot. This is much like the celebration shot, but it often a negative reaction. The first one shows a striker reflecting after missing an open goal. The second shows the player in orange asking for a penalty after an alleged foul on #16, and the ref saying no.
There are many other kinds of sports photos – panning, portraits, and a whole lot of funny faces for starters, but these three should give you an idea.
On the technical side, I set the camera to use back-button auto-focus with only the centre focus point, AI Servo mode, shoot in high-speed mode, use Tv mode (with Auto ISO) to set the shutter speed upwards from 1/1000 sec (whatever you need to get the lens wide open).
I use long lenses (a 70-200 and 400), but it is still possible to get decent sports photos with a wide lens, you just need to get closer and wait for the action.
In terms of post production, I shoot JPG (I shoot about 1400 frames a match), and all I do is crop (actually a fair bit as I shoot wider than needed) and straighten, with maybe a little sharpening thrown in for good measure.
So, your challenge this week:
* Shoot a sports photo, preferably an action shot.
* Add a little caption explaining the photo. This is a photojournalism challenge, after all.
Michael “Dr yomcat” Welsh is a hobbyist photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand, with a particular interest in shooting football. You can check out his photos on Facebook (facebook.com/yomcatshoots) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dr_yomcat/).