written by: Claudine Baugh•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 12/14/2011
Avid athletes tend to get very involved in their sport, and photographing them can bring animation and grandeur to your photo. It’s great to see the facial expressions and involuntary gestures distinct to certain sports. Take a tour of our sports gallery and the athletes that make these photos pop!
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The Daring Snow Boarder
This amazing photo of this snowboarder was taken with a Canon EOS-1D Mark ll digital camera. This new generation of DSLR has terrific resolution with its eight-megapixel CMOS sensor, which can be credited to the superb clarity shown here.
It was important that the photographer was positioned at the ideal distance and angle, so that this shot could showcase as much detail as it did. Take note of how well you can see the snowboarder’s form and talent during this jump, as well as the base of the snowboard and upheaval of snow beneath. Speeding up the shutter speed is good to bring focus to your subject. It somewhat freezes your subject just in time, so you can capture a winning pose.
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Dirt Bike Wheelie Pro
To capture movement like this, you can use a technique called Panning. What this does is keep your subject in sharp focus while the background is blurred; it’s the perfect way to convey movement in a photo.
You would need to use a slow shutter speed instead of using a tripod or keeping steady. You’ll be "panning" your camera along the directional path of your subject. The key is to try to match your subject’s rate of movement and the direction in which it is traveling. If all else fails, you can always get similar results with photo editing software like Photoshop.
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Riding the Waves
The ocean can be a bit challenging to photograph, and blending the movement of water with a surfer can be tricky for some. One of the most common methods for taking pictures of a vehement ocean is to actually freeze the movement of the water. This way the photographer will be able to show details of the waves and water droplets as they appear - especially in mid-air.
This is seamlessly demonstrated here with this surfer, as he glides through a roaring wave. Now to accomplish a photo of this nature, you will need to quicken the shutter speed. For closer shots of a wave you can go up to 1/4000th of a second or even faster. If you are further away, you can shoot with a more moderate shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second.
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Mid-Air Ski Jump
It takes a dynamic pose such as this to make a photo pop. Capturing this skier in this stance can basically be attributed to the photographer being in the right place, at the right time. It does, of course, help to know the correct techniques to use, and which of the features on your digital camera to engage.
For this particular shot it would be best to use a faster shutter speed and secure your camera. This will keep the skier is kept in sharp focus. Luckily, there isn’t anything surrounding the target or in the background to worry about. This would make selecting the right shutter speed a little bit more tricky, as well as determining the best distance to be from the subject.
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Field Hockey Tussle
Sometimes a picture can make a sport appear to be way more interesting than it actually is. Not to say field hockey isn’t a terrific sport, but at times it can be a bit dull - like many other types of sports. Yet, a picture taken at a particular time can make the game look more thrilling.
Our athletes here are presumably moving at a moderate speed – not too fast, but not too slow, either. For that reason, using the automatic settings on your digital camera would capture a picture of this tone in crisp, clear detail. However, since this is a field game, it would require more zooming than normal to get a close enough shot.
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Who said high jumping isn’t an action sport? Well, if there were any doubts this picture certainly proves that notion wrong. It’s mesmerizing to see this athlete in form during this jump; it shows his skill and vigor for the game.
If you were to observe this photo a little more keenly, you will see that the track in the background is slightly blurred, which would mean that there was a bit if zooming executed to take this shot. Being at the right height, and also knowing just when to trigger the snap button on your digital camera, is key in capturing this remarkable pose.
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It can be hard to focus your camera on a horse at top speed in a race. But with some long telephoto lens and the right technique, a photographer can get a pretty good picture.
Horse racing requires you to be close to the action, but not physically close so that it would be dangerous or interrupting to the sport. By zooming in at a very long-range, slowing down the shutter speed, and implementing the panning technique into your shot, you will be able to capture the horse and rider clearly with what looks like a moving, blurred background. It’s a great way to display the speed and movement of the horse, and will undoubtedly set your photo apart from the norm.
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Making a Splash
Even though this photo is a little underexposed, it still makes a breathtaking shot (no pun intended). The way the photographer was able to capture the splashes created by the swimmer and his movement in the water is brilliant. As discussed earlier, water droplets and in this case splashes created from water is best accomplished by freezing its movement.
This technique also freezes the swimmer so you can view, and feel, a slice of the action. It is a great way to show a brief moment in time that would otherwise be missed by onlookers. By both zooming in on your target and quickening the shutter speed, you will land a photo looking similar to this. Remember, if you are not an expert, practice makes perfect. If after a few attempts the photo doesn’t quite make the cut, don’t give up!
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Backflip on Rollerblades
Chronophotography is the art of using the continuous shooting feature on your digital camera to capture successive phases of motion -- just the way you see it displayed in this photo. You can decide on as many frames as you like, however the distance your moving subject covers would help to determine what is ideal.
This type of techniques is best executed with a tripod stand so that later, when you join the shots, they appear coordinated with an unvarying background. Photoshop editing can help you to not only create this type of photography, but also allow you to be a little experimentive with the art of Chronophotography.
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Check out how this photo captures this soccer player in the split second he went into this fantastic stance. When photographing such quick sports action, you need to speed up the shutter speed so that you can show viewers the player’s movement as it occurs. Additionally, this process allows you to focus on other important details, like his facial expression and body gesture in that very instant. This way you can bring the picture to life, so that your audience can relate to it.
To get quality pictures such as this, you will need a digital camera with exceptional abilities, e.g. zooming capabilities, a wide EV scale, high ISO speed and terrific resolution - among other features. This particular photo was taken with a Canon EOS-1D Mark ll camera; it is a superb recommendation for photographing sports.
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With a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT camera combined with two 1,000 w/s dyna-lite strobes, the photographer managed to get a pretty good picture here. The exposure was set at 1/180 second, and the aperture at f/4. A focal length of 70 mm, an ISO speed of 800 and some Photoshop enhancements work together to change the color and clean up the shot.
The art of the sport was captured beautifully, along with the drive and force of the players. As a sport photographer, it is important to know the sport you are covering. This way, you are better able to predict moves and prepare yourself for the master shot.
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This is an intense shot - something the regular Joe may have problems snapping! The rule of thumb in photographing moving objects remains the same, so the number one tip in capturing movement from one side of the screen to the other is to select a longer shutter speed and implement the panning technique. Panning your camera in the direction and speed of the moving object will keep it clear and sharp in the photo while the background is blurred.
In essence, while moving your camera along the directional path (for example the bike in this shot) it appeared to be still. While the background is moving, so the blurring occurs.
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Approaching the Finish Line
What’s great about photographing sprinters in a race is the way the photo captures each of their body’s movements and form during the race. These athletes are also some of the most expressive individuals you can find.
That entirely aside, track and field sprinters can be pretty quick on their feet! Trying to get a clear, sharp picture during a race can be tricky. To eliminate any kind of blur or distortion of your subject, it would be best to practice a bit of panning along with slowing the shutter speed of your digital camera. This technique is so effective and popular that it keeps popping up in our discussion of these sports photography tips.
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This is a great photo of a female volleyball player taking control of the game. The snapshot of the background is very complimenting, and allows viewers to feel the sport in a remarkable way. Blurring the areas in the back allows you to focus more on the subject, and less on what’s taking place behind.
This picture was taken with a Canon EOS 50D camera at a focal length of 70 mm with no flash. Normally, auditoriums that host events like this are very well-lit, so often using the flash and having to zoom in from a long distance overexposes a shot. This will blow out important details; especially given that sports photography can be so animated and expressive.
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Formula 1 Racing
This is not your traditional photograph. It is actually a shot taken using the Polyphony Digital Inc. Grand Turismo 5 software. An incredible shot like this would have to be taken with a digital camera, and would take some extreme panning technique, intelligent lens and smart shutter speed mechanics. Formula 1 racecars are extremely fast, and can go up to as much as 200 miles per hour! Trying to capture a clear shot like this would be no walk through the park.
You can see, the photographer did some editing to tweak up this shot; he used Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.5 (Windows), the quality was improved to intensify the streaks that represent the speed, direction and motion of the car. Also, take note of the blurred background on certain parts of the wheels and such.