Recently, I have been able to attend some local high school football games. I have been cheering my team for victory and snapping photos whenever I have been able to. Now, taking photos of a sports game isn't easy because there are a lot of factors that you have to consider.
1. Your location in the stands
Most of your photos will be taken from the stands. Only in special circumstances will officials allow you around the perimeter of the field for photos, but this is highly unlikely because both teams usually have their own photographers placed in this area. Sometimes it's not really the more the merrier when taking photos.
I suggest getting as high as you can in the stands. One would think sitting down near the field would get more action packed shots, but in reality you will have to deal with more people being in your way and missing play shots because you are at eye level with the field.
2. Bring a tripod or monopod
I always bring a monopod with me when I shoot anything. Not everyone has nerves of still or can take photos without camera shake every single time. Plus, when shooting high speed sports you will definitely need stationary device to hold the camera due to the high shutter speeds that you will be shooting at.
This photo was taken of a football player doing wide receiver warm-up catches. I shot this photo at a shutter speed of 1/1000 second. Anything less would have captured the image but I would have been more likely to see camera shake.
However, the next photo was shot at a shutter speed of 1/60 second. Here you can see significant camera blue because of the low shutter speed.
3. Keep in mind the time of day and lighting
If you are watching an afternoon game that will continue after the sun sets, keep in mind that you will need to adjust your settings to compensate for the loss of light. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO will all need to be adjusted to allow more light to enter your camera. Don't forget that your shutter speed will need to remain fairly high 1/250 second or greater to continue to get stop-action shots of the players.
4. You can pan your shots
Sometimes you are following one player on the field to get a nice action shot for your collection. When you pan a player, this mean that you follow that player on the field with the lens. In the midst of all the action, you have focused on this one player and taken a photo. The photo will turn out something like the example below:
Notice how #50 is more in focus than the rest of the motion blurred players on the field. I panned the camera lens on him throughout the play to cause this effect.
5. Take continuous shots of a play or action
At a football game, you have the cheerleaders down on the track cheering your team to victory. During and between cheers and chants, these girls usually show off their gymnastics ability and do some sort of jump or flip. This is no different than if you were trying to capture the kick-off in a football game or the winning catch.
When trying to capture that winning moment or the cheerleader in mid-jump keep in mind that you need to adjust your camera to continuous shooting mode. This mode allows you to continue snapping shots without having to refocus the camera. You may get quite a few shots that are blurred or not the position you were wanting, but if timed correctly, you will get the shot you were looking for.
So, if you're out shooting any kind of sports game remember my above tips and you're sure to get some great shots of the team or your special player. These game shots can be great memories for years to come or great for those photo gifts that keep on giving.