It is officially fall and football games can be found taking place all over the country. Action photography can be a real challenge to capture in tack-sharp clarity due to the split-second timing and cat-like reactions necessary to freeze motion. Last year I photographed my girlfriends annual Turkey Bowl intramural flag football tournament. Coming home with a full gig and a half of photos was a thrill but there were quite a few technical problems I ran into.
For one, I only had one battery. The tournament goes all day from morning to night and I need all of the juice I can get. It also didn’t help that the battery was having trouble holding a charge on that cold, brisk day. I would constantly have to take the battery out and hold it in my pocket for a while before continuing to shoot. This year that problem will be solved since I bought two batteries in addition to the original battery which I keep in my bag for an absolute last resort, emergency type of shot.
My second problem was my beginner telephoto lens. Don’t get me wrong it got me some good shots, but it is a very soft lens with a slow aperture of f/5.6. No surprise I got this lens at a great price of $120. For this year’s game I upgraded to a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. The faster aperture will allow me to bump up the shutter speeds during the day and at night I will probably have to go with a 1600 ISO speed.
Finally, last year was the first time shooting team sports. I had no clue as to what I was doing and just went with my instincts. Recently I have been digging through resources on the Internet about shooting football which is how I ran into this great thread on DP Review.com.
Get low…. Not only does this go a long way in cleaning up the background but it makes the players (the younger the better) look bigger the life.
No matter what lens you are using shoot tight. Tight action shots give the viewer a feeling of being in the game.
Canon and the NFL have teamed up to produce a video series of football shooting tips with Sports Illustrated photographer Peter Read Miller. There is also a behind the scenes clip where Peter talks about the equipment he uses as well as events leading up to the game.
The New York Institute of Photography has a lengthy write up on football tips with several visual examples to drive their points home.
If you are in need of some inspiration there is a weekly sports thread in the DP Review.com Canon SLR Lens Forum full of all kinds of football shots. This one from BryanP particularly stand out. Bryan is the same guy who posted the excellent How To Shoot Football 101 thread.
I hope with the new gear and the reading I have been doing will pay off come game day on November 17th. I still have plenty of time to get some practice shots in and read up about more techniques.
Do you have any tips for shooting football?