Nikon D780 For Dummies
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Photography is a wonderful pastime. You can use your Nikon D780 camera to capture memories of the things that interest you. If you’re a sports fan, you can photograph your favorite sport. You can photograph individual athletes, but sports have more to them than just the athletes. Whether your favorite sport is football or auto racing, each one has its own rituals. And every sport includes a supporting cast.

When you photograph a sporting event, you photograph each chapter of the event, from the pre-games festivities to the opening kickoff to the winning touchdown. Your creative mind, your knowledge of the sport, and the settings in this section give you all the tools you need to tell a story. Begin at the beginning, before the athletes flex their muscles or the drivers start their engines.

How to set the Nikon D780 camera

This section gives you a couple of different shooting scenarios. When you’re photographing the pre-event festivities, shoot in aperture-priority auto (A) mode. When your goal is to photograph an athlete preparing for the event, you want a shallow depth of field, so use a large aperture (a small f/stop number). When you want to photograph the crowd, or a group of athletes practicing, use a small aperture (a large f/stop number) to ensure a large depth of field.

When your goal is to stop action, shoot in shutter-priority auto (S) mode at a speed fast enough to freeze the action. For an athlete, you can freeze motion with a shutter speed as slow as 1/125 second. To stop a racecar dead in its tracks, you need a fast shutter speed of 1/2,000 second. To capture the beauty of a speeding racecar with a motion blur, you pan the camera and shoot with a shutter speed of 1/125 second.

The focal length you use varies depending on how close you can get to the action. If you’re photographing a large crowd before the event, use a wide-angle focal length of 28mm to 35mm. If you’re photographing individual athletes, zoom in.

Camera settings: Sporting events

These are the settings I recommend for shooting sporting events:
  • Metering mode: Matrix
  • Release mode: Single frame, Cl (continuous low speed), or Ch (continuous high speed)
  • Shooting mode: Shutter-priority auto (S) mode or aperture-priority auto (A) mode
  • Shutter speed: 1/250 second or faster
  • Aperture: Varies
  • ISO: The lowest possible ISO setting for the lighting conditions
  • Focus mode: AF-C (continuous autofocus)
  • Autofocus point: Single-point AF
  • Focal length: Varies
  • Image stabilization: On, unless using a tripod

How to capture the event

When you photograph a sporting event, you have to be in the moment. Before the event starts, you can capture interesting pictures of the crowd, the athletes performing their pre-event rituals, and the athletes warming up. When the event starts, you can capture the frenetic action. When the event is well and truly underway, keep alert for any interesting situations that may arise and, of course, any team player who scores. If you’re photographing a car race, be sure to include pictures of pit stops and other associated activities such as a driver change during an endurance race. And you probably want a picture or two of the winning driver spraying the champagne.

Arrive at the event early and take pictures of anything that piques your curiosity. Remember to change settings based on what you’re photographing.

Photograph the pre-event activities, such as the introduction of the players, athletes going through pre-event rituals, the coach meeting with her team on the sidelines, or pictures of the drivers getting ready. You can get creative with your composition when you photograph the pre-race events. Don’t be afraid to turn the camera diagonally or venture to an interesting vantage point. Let your inner child run amuck and capture some unusual pictures.

The action can get a little crazy when an event begins. Each team is trying to gain an advantage over the other. If you’re photographing a race, drivers may battle fiercely to achieve the lead by the first corner. You never know what may happen. Stay alert for any possibility. Hold the camera and be ready to compose an image when you anticipate something interesting about to happen. Be proactive: Have the camera to your eye a split second before the crucial moment.

The middle of any event is a great time for photographers. If you’re photographing an event such as a basketball or football game, you can get some shots of substitutions. You can also photograph the fans to capture their reactions to a winning score and so on. If you’re photographing an auto race, the cars are now a little battle weary, with tire marks, racer’s tape, and other chinks in their armor.

photographing sports events Photograph the middle of the event when the participants are a little battle weary.

Be on your toes, especially if the score is close. In the final minutes or final laps, it’s do or die. Athletes give their all to win the event, which gives you opportunities for some great pictures.

Take photographs of the winning team celebrating and capture the glum looks of the losers. Take photographs of any awards ceremonies. Tell the complete story of the event.

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David Karlins is a web design professional and author who's written over 50 books and created video training on top web design tools. Doug Sahlin is the coauthor of Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies and author of Digital Landscape & Nature Photography For Dummies.

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