Sports Photography: Camera Techniques for Photographing Baseball, Soccer & Other Sports
Although it is possible to photograph sports like soccer and baseball in the same manner as other photographic subjects, some specific techniques can be applied to improve the results. Such techniques take into account the distance, movement, and other characteristics of sports photography.
If your camera has shutter speed settings, a low speed will cause movement of players and/or the ball to be emphasized, whereas a higher speed will more clearly capture the particular moment when the shutter button is pressed. A “4-shooter” camera may be worth trying – these show movement by using four separate lenses to capture an image in each quarter of the same frame, with each shot being a fraction of a second later than the last. A camera of this kind might be used to show the movement of a baseball pitcher throwing the ball, for example. Such cameras are inexpensive and have been made by several small camera brands, including Meikai. The Lomo Action Sampler is another similar, but more colorful-looking, four-shooter style camera.
Using a small tripod might also be considered if you are in a position which allows for this. Placing a tripod with a camera on it (which is set up so that it has a desirable view) will allow you to easily shoot multiple photos of the same exact position. For example, you might want to point it at one of the baskets in a basketball court, or simply choose a position which lets it take photos of the entire soccer or baseball field. Using it also helps prevent blurring caused by accidental shaking of the camera.
A zoom lens or binocular-camera may be useful for taking photos of subjects on the soccer or baseball field from a distant seating location. If you happen to be located near the front of the seating area and are using a focus-free camera, be sure to avoid photographing subjects which are fewer than four feet away. Although this is usually not going to be a concern at sporting events, taking photos too close-up with this type of camera (which includes most 35mm and digital cameras in the low-to-mid price range) often causes photos to be partially or completely out-of-focus.
A compact camera which will fit in your pocket and doesn’t have detachable accessories (flash unit, lens cap, etc.) is less likely to be misplaced or stolen at a sporting event. While such cameras more commonly lack extra features, there are a number of compact cameras with features such as aperture settings, tripod sockets, and neck straps. The Windsor WX-3, Canon Sure Shot Supreme, and PhotoFlex MX-35 are some examples. However, features like focusing controls, SLR-type viewfinders, and self-timers are less common in compact cameras.
Using a camera with a neck strap or buying a neck strap for your existing camera is helpful for sports photography, especially if the camera is heavy or large. Having to hold the camera constantly or take it out of a bag for every shot can become tiresome, and will increase the time it takes you to prepare. Most cameras either have a neck strap mount on each side, or only have a single wrist strap mount. While it is easier to find a wide variety of straps which use two neck strap mounts, it is also possible to find neck straps which connect to a single mount. Cameras with a built-in wrist strap (the type which can’t be removed), such as the Lex35 Panoramic and Suntone MM252, generally cannot use a neck strap.
Taking these tips into consideration should help improve your photographs of the next soccer, baseball, basketball, or other sporting event you attend.