Sports Photography: Capturing Action Shots
One of the main allures of sports, next to the competitive nature obviously, is the action that takes place during the games. This action comes in a variety of flavors and degrees, suiting any number of taste. Since action tends to be a big part of sports, it is no wonder that action shots are such a large part of sports photography. Capturing the moments that define the game can be a challenging task depending on what sport you are shooting, and exactly what you are trying to capture.These are usually the shots people see the most of, the shot of the pitcher throwing a fast ball, a player dunking, and a racer crossing the finish line. These shots embody the selected sport in it’s finest elements, and form the bread and butter of sports photography. Capturing action shots is a one chance challenge, that if you miss you will never get another chance. You can apply any number of techniques to shooting action, but some of the best action shots follow a few guidelines.
Single Player Shots
If you are shooting an action shot that involves a single player you typically have a wider berth of options that you can use to shoot it. When shooting a single player you have the option to capture as much or as little as you’d like, allowing you to crop out or include whatever you feel is relevant or irrelevant, or what really makes your shot. These are the shots that allow you be more creative and unique. One of the best techniques you can apply to this shot is blur. By tracking the action as it happens (i.e. moving your camera) and using a lower shutter speed you can create the unique looking shots where the surrounding area is blurred but what you are tracking stays in perfect focus. This is used especially in races. You can also reverse this to create a perspective of motion in a single object as well.
With single player shots you are granted additional artistic license, allowing you to use techniques of other forms of photography to create even more unique shots, such as extreme zooming on certain elements such as a players glove of tool, tilting a shot, and even adjusting contrast. This is your chance to really experiment with style.
If there are more than a single player in a shot it becomes harder to use many of the tricks associated with single player shots. Typically, shots like this show the sport at both it’s finest and most competitive, showing players in contest. Because there are multiple players blurring is not really an option, and in general does not complement the shot. With multiple players, you should use a higher shutter speed and lower aperture to completely still the image and capture the action of all of the players. While these shots do not allow as much artistic license, they are usually the ones that capture memorable moments in sports.