Taking Photos of Sports in a Nutshell - dummies

By David D. Busch

Every sport has its own “hot spot” where you can count on seeing a lot of exciting action. Here are some tips for some of the most common sports:

  • Arena football: The action is never far away in arena football, which also means that the fans on the opposite side of the arena will also be within your field of view. Try to score some seats halfway up the stands so you’ll be shooting down on the players, and the field itself will become your background.

  • Outdoor football: For junior high, high school, or Division III college games, you can often get right down on the sidelines. Keep your distance from the players and benches, and move to the end zones just before scores. And, above all, try to anticipate what is going to happen and be ready for a pass, run, or other play.

  • Baseball and softball: Shoot directly behind the backstop, shooting through the links to get a shot of the pitcher just as he or she releases the ball (ideally framed between the batter and umpire). Or shoot from just behind the dugouts. If a runner is on first base, pre-focus your camera on second base in case there’s a close play there as the runner tries to advance.

  • Basketball: Hanging out behind the backboard is a great place for getting good shots, because that’s where rebounds, scoring, and fights over the ball happen.

  • Soccer: Behind the net and to one side of it are good locations to catch scoring attacks, but you can move to the sidelines for good ball-handling shots.

  • Hockey: Players tend to make a lot of contact behind the net trying to control the puck, so you can catch some good action there. Also look for action in the area between the blue lines — the neutral zone.

  • Tennis: Stand behind the court to capture a straight-on shot of the player on the far side of the net.

  • Motor sports: Racing is a photographic challenge, because the action is fast, except when the vehicles are on the curve and are moving a little bit slower. For better action-stopping at slower shutter speeds, select a spot where the cars appear to be coming directly at you. A shutter speed of 1/125 second may work fine.

  • Track and field: Lots of events are going on simultaneously, so you’ll need to move quickly. As with motor sports, your best shots may come when the athletes are moving directly toward you. Or try the start of a race when the sprinters are beginning to break away.

  • Field events: So many events, so many different ways to shoot them. Unlike track, which tends to use the same quarter-mile track surface for its events, the field competition presents more challenges. Fortunately, shot put, javelin, and discus can all use the same basic philosophy. Namely, get in front of the athlete with a little offset to the side (and far enough away to be out of range) so that you can shoot straight-on as the athlete releases whatever it is he or she is throwing. Setting yourself up behind the landing area is a good strategy for both the long jump and pole vault, while positioning yourself to the side and slightly behind the bar works well for high jumping. (The hard part is racing from side to side because jumpers will come from both the left and right.)