SHOOTING ACTION ALL AROUND YOU IS THE BEST PLACE TO START — HONE YOUR SKILLS CLOSE TO HOME FIRST…
THERE’S A POPULAR misconception that you need to attend major sporting events and venues to bag decent action shots, but nothing could be further from the truth -there’s action going on all around us all the time, and as well as being far more accessible than most sports, it’s also often photographically more interesting.
If you have kids then you also have instant action subjects on permanent tap — and with the summer holidays here, lots of opportunities to get out with a camera. Shoot them splashing around in a paddling pool or in the sea on your family holiday, using a fast shutter speed to freeze the water or a slow one to blur it. Get them to soak each other with hosepipes and water pistols while you fire away from a safe distance. Football or chasing the dog in the park, frisbee on the beach, playing ‘catch’, horse riding, cycling, rollerblading… All these situations and pastimes create great photo opportunities, and by experimenting with techniques such a spanning, blurring, slow-sync flash and close-range shooting with a wide lens, you’ll be able to capture some great images.
Kids love being the centre of attention, so don’t be afraid to set-up shots — get them to run towards the camera while you fire away, or jump over a makeshift hurdle while you lay on the ground and capture them against the sky. Trampolines are also great for action shots — as we illustrated in last month’s issue. You can also get them to repeat the same things time and time again until you get the shots you want — providing you promise an ice cream for their efforts, you’ll be fine!
Shooting pro sporting events
IF YOUR INTEREST in sports photography blossoms then you’ll almost certainly set your sights higher and start thinking about attending bigger events and venues. It’s a natural progression from shooting Sunday morning soccer or local athletics; a way to see just how good you are.
Some sports are off limits beyond amateur level — pro football and rugby being two. Without a press pass you’ll never get close enough to the action. Cricket is another tricky one — without a 600mm to 800mm lensyou’ll be shooting distant needles in haystacks!
Motorsport is a good sport to target as you can usually get fairly close to the action from the spectator stands. Check out the venue online and see where the best spots are, then arrive nice and early so you can get a good view. With a zoom that takes you up to 300mm or 400mm you’ll fill the frame without any trouble.
Smaller circuits tend to give the best access, so forget about Fl Grands Prix and go initially for club events. Motorbikes as well as cars are worth pursuing and motocross is a cracking sport for photography because you really can get close to the action, and move around the course freely to shoot from different vantage points. Jumps are always a good one asyou’ll get bike after bike in midair. Speaking of air — don’t underestimate airshows as great events for action. All the big ones take place in the summer and because the action occurs overhead, spectators get as good a view as VI Ps. Shooting aircraft in-flight is a real test of your tracking and timing skills, and if you wantto bag frame-filling shotsyou’ll need a long lens — 400mm to 500mm is the name of the game, though a 75-300mm on a DSLR with a crop factor of 1.5x or 1.6x will do a decent job. You’ll also need a shutter speed of 1/500-1/lOOOsec to stop them dead. Take a few test shots to see how your camera’s metering copes with the sky and workout how much exposure compensation you need to dial in (if any) to give you perfect results. Underexposure is far more likely than over-exposure, so watch out for it. If light levels drop you may also need to increase the ISO to maintain an action-freezing shutter speed — up to ISO 800 is more than acceptable with the latest generation of DSLRs, though if in doubt, don’t stray beyond ISO 400.
Finally, remember that the best displays tend to take place at the end of the day, so don’t burn yourself out or fill all your memory cards before the grand finale!