Last week my sister-in-law asked if I’d take pictures of their 9th grade son, Cody, who suits up for both the JV and varsity teams in their home town, St Paul, Oregon. It’s 8-man football; fast, and fun to watch.
So… from a photographer’s point of view what were some of the essentials for me to obey so to get stop-action captures of Cody and his teammates playing the neighboring Mt Angel Trojans? Here are the couple rules I felt to apply:
#1. The direction from which to shoot: It is said over and over again that photography is “all about lighting” and we were fortunate to begin the game with still good sunlight coming from the west. Therefore it was essential to shoot from as close to a westerly angle as possible and hope the team was playing near to the far sideline so that particular plays might be coming my way, into the available light, on the near side.
#2. Shutter speed: In order to get and retain sharpness I set the camera to shutter priority which sets the shutter speed (I chose 1/400th of a second) and lets the camera pick it’s aperture opening and give me a warning when I don’t have enough light… which happened just after halftime when the sun got down lower behind the stadium walls. Then I had to crank up the ISO to compensate as possible which can harm the image quality.
#3. Anticipate the play: I imagine some sports photographers shoot just hundreds of photos and then go thru all them to pick the few keepers. I tend to be a little more selective to when I click the shutter. Being that my camera can record 7 shots a second I at times may hold the shutter to catch a sequence. There’s a fine line there between having hundreds of throw-away images or, on the other hand, missing worthwhile shots.
You can see that even at 1/400th of a second shutter opening the ball leaving Cody’s hand is slightly blurred. Click here for more.
To continue with this available light issue… After the sun had gone behind the stadium walls and we were playing in full shade it didn’t matter much from which direction I shot, but… the drawback was I couldn’t get the tack sharp stop-action photo or I lost definition. Again… it’s all about the lighting.