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Tips on Taking Sports Photos

    Raise Your ISO

    • Set your camera to a higher ISO, which will allow you to use a higher shutter speed. ISO is what used to be film speed for film cameras before the days of digital cameras. Professional sports photographers use a shutter speed of around 1/1000 of a second to stop motion. Using a faster shutter speed in daylight is easy; it's during nighttime action that a faster F stop is needed, one that your lens may not be suited for. To compensate, increasing the ISO allows the camera to capture more light.

    Be Prepared

    • Be alert to what's going on in the sporting event. Aim your camera on star players and know who the special interest or key athletes are. Their activity will likely present the most exciting photo opportunities. Know the rules of the game you are shooting, and understand the patterns of play, where the critical moments are bound to happen and even where the mental moments may come into play. Pay attention to changing light scenarios and be aware of where you are on a roll of film or a memory card so you don't run out of space or film. Use an additional camera with a short lens pre-focused on where action is likely to happen.


    • Anticipate the next move before it happens. If you wait to see it, it will be over before you can snap the shutter. There can be a 200-millisecond delay between when you see the moment and the finger reflex needed to take the picture, plus additional time for the camera's inner workings to perform. Put yourself in the shoes of the athlete and anticipate the move before it happens and start shooting then. Realize that you will probably take a lot of shots in preparation for that one perfect picture.

    Use an Equipment Belt or Bag

    • Keep your equipment close and handy with a bag, a belt or, if practical, a photo vest. Belt holsters can hold a large range of lenses and can keep all your other essential equipment, such as memory cards, at your fingertips so that you don't miss a shot while running back to a camera bag.

    Avoid Using Flash

    • Many sports arenas ban the use of flash as it can distract players and cause mistakes in the game. Indoor sports arenas typically have very powerful lights in the rafters, which allow an optimal amount of light to fall on the action. Many sanctioning bodies have rules for on-site sports photographers. Know the rules before you go so you don't get kicked out or even fined.

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