Though photography as a whole is a passion of mine, I really enjoy sports photography.
I have several favorite topics when shooting photos, but there’s something special about stopping action in a shot. Capturing a ball in midair or an athlete doing something really wild makes it even better. Though I love video, I’ll take a great action shot over the video any day.
Recently, I’ve shot a few softball and lacrosse games of a local college.
This isn’t a how-to post when it comes to action photography. I have to keep learning just as much as anybody else. I know I can continue to get better and that’s why I try and shoot sports photos whenever I have a chance.
The thing is trying to think a little differently. Not just the pitching or swinging photos in softball or baseball, but something different.
Baseball and softball can be tough to shoot at times. There’s the issue of timing when the ball is going to be in play somewhere, or being thrown, or being hit. There are times when you focus on somebody and nothing happens. But there’s so much more going on. It’s a true game of reaction when it comes to photos.
With all that in mind, below are some of my favorites I’ve taken of the local college and their spring sports I saw, as well as some thoughts on my process of getting them.
I actually haven’t processed all my photos from the games, so I’m going with ones I have done and have already uploaded to Flickr.
1. Quick to react
Even if you focus on a certain player or spot during a game, you still have to be quick to react. Sometimes you can fire off several shots and still not get the ball or good action. Shots like this one really work out well because it goes beyond the norm. This is one of my favorite shots because of her focus, as well as the bouncing ball — where you even see the shadow.
2. Other things make good images
The photo of a sporting event doesn’t have to always be on the action. Look around. Are there celebrations? People being upset? With those two, you can capture emotion. This shot is something I liked. I knew this umpire, so I was going to get a few shots of him. This one, in between innings, really worked out for me as he flipped the ball up and down.
3. Close in on the action
No matter what anybody says, I’m a firm believer that one’s whole body doesn’t have to be in the image. Take, for example, this one. What more would it add if their legs and feet were in the shot? The action would be more of a wider shot. In this one, you can see the action, the expressions and the ball (in the netting of the one stick).
4. Shoot from the front or, at worst, side
Nobody wants to see an image behind the action. It’s one of the biggest issues I find with disc golf images. Try and keep it so you capture the action and, hopefully, the faces of those involved. In this one, the Delhi (gold) player is coming in on the action, but the shooter from the other team is coming almost right at me. This shot would have been worthless if taken from behind. Instead, it’s one of my favorites from the season because of the action and where the ball is.
Sports photography is all about knowing what could happen and where. If you think something might happen, focus on that spot. Especially in baseball and softball. You can only take so many images of pitching and hitting, so look around. Is there a chance somebody could steal? Focus on that base. Is a certain player hitting one way? Stay looking at that spot. It’s all anticipation. This shot was one where I had a feeling there would be a steal coming. As it was, I snapped a whole series of shots, but this one really shows the thought of anticipation with the dirt flying up on the slide.
Sports is a great theme when it comes to photography. And the best part of it is it really challenges your skills and your ability. One thing I would recommend, no matter what, is to familiarize yourself with the sport you might shoot. You don’t have to be an expert, but knowing a bit about the sport will help you react, anticipate and find the good spots when it comes to shooting. Most of all, have fun with it. I have a ton of interests when it comes to photography, but sports images are still the ones that make me get excited more than most because there’s a better chance to really get that “one” shot.
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