Digital Sports Photography

Get into the Action with Digital Sports Photography!

Digital sports photography is action packed and will probably take lots of energy from you as a photographer. But there are lots of options when it comes to digital sports photography, from different types of sports to different levels of competition. Learning how to capture action with the fast moving subjects we usually find in sports can be a particular challenge. You have to decide for yourself whether digital sports photography offers the kind of challenge you think you might enjoy.

Just about every digital camera, even the most basic kind, has a sports mode that you can use for action photography. This mode will help you to stop the action and capture the moment. But you need to be aware of some of the other techniques that will help you take a successful action picture.

One proven technique that the professionals use is known as panning. Panning involves moving the camera with the moving subject you are photographing, and results in a sharp image with a slightly blurry background. What you do is to stand firmly on the ground, and then as the person runs, rides or drives past you, you literally move the camera with them until they are where you want them to be. Then you hit the button to fire the shutter.

The problem with panning is that the cheaper cameras have a shutter lag, which means that there is a time delay between when you push the button and when the shutter actually fires. The best solution is to pre-focus (which means you have completed half the process), and then push the button when the person gets to the point where you pre-fucused the camera. Remember that practise makes perfect.

There's another trick, and that is to use slow synchronised flash - but you will need a separate flashgun that has sufficient power for this to work. Basically the slow shutter speed and the burst of light work together, with the flash freezing the motion and the slow shutter speed keeping the background blurred. It's basically what we do when we work at night or in low-light.

Generally you will find that if you use a fairly long focal length you will have more success caption sports and action shots. This is because it is usually quite difficult to get close to the subject. Ideally you should have a camera with 10 x zoom lens built into it or, even better, a D-SLR camera with lens that is at least 250 mm. Just remember that a longer focal length will result in slower shutter speeds, especially if the light is not too bright. So be careful not to shake. Use a tripod if possible and increase the ISO (sensitivity level). If you have manual controls, open the aperture to a larger setting, F2.8 for example.

But even if you don't have an expensive camera with the specifications listed above, you can still have a lot of fun with digital sports photography.

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