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Action Shots

>> Friday, December 2, 2011

For the last two years, I have been working on improving my photography of sports/action.  My dear friend M plays baseball with a local league, and, to my delight, I have somehow become the team photographer.  I shoot the games I can make it to, edit the shots, and post the photos on Picasa for the team to see and share with their friends and families.  I can't express how much fun I have doing it, largely because the guys on the team are absolutely wonderful - they are fun to spend time with, and are darn good ball players, too.  Now our friend S has started playing hockey in a local league, so I've been starting to photograph some of his games, too.

Shooting sports is vastly different from any other photography I do.  With most of my photography I am focused on artistic quality of shots, and spend a long time lining things up.  I often scrabble around on my stomach in the dirt to get just the right angle, and take several shots of the same thing using different camera settings.  

But when I am shooting sports action I've got one "shot" at each moment.  And I had better get it right. 

I have found that doing this kind of photography is really good for my camera skills.  It takes incredible concentration to follow the game and have the camera pointed in the right direction so that I capture that one great moment.  I am typically shooting through small openings in a chain link fence or between globs of dried sweat and saliva on the arena glass, too, and that complicates things.

I've learned what tricks I can use to up my shutter speed, where all the short-cut buttons are on my camera for changing settings quickly, and have gotten good at shooting quickly yet still getting steady shots.  That said, hockey moves really really fast, and there's less light in a hockey arena than you might think, so I still have a lot of learning left to do when it comes to hockey photography.

But just capturing a sports moment is not really enough.  Artistry matters in sports photos, too.  It's just a different type of art, and requires a lot of practice to be able to get it right without much time.  I have to be constantly be looking for that right moment, even when there isn't much action on the field or rink.  You never know when that poignant, funny, or classic sports moment might happen.

I've taken a lot of crappy sports shots, that's for sure.  Thank goodness for photo editing programs, because my horizon line tends to be completely drunk in most of my shots.  However, I have also gotten a couple - just a few - really good shots that I'm rather proud of.  Thought I'd share my favorites.


biobabbler December 2, 2011 at 12:14 PM  

Wow, these are great! I have thought before, esp. when looking at amazing sports photos in the NY Times that my husband shows me, that these folks must think FAST.

When you mentioned hockey, I immediately thought "Whaaaaaa?" I spend the first 75% of any hockey game I attend (there's been, what, 5?) trying to see the puck. JUST SEE it. That sport is SO CRAZY FAST, I'm SUPER impressed that you're even trying to shoot it. And it's not bright?!? Wow.

Great point re: shooting different stuff flexes different muscles and expands your understanding.

Nice work! =)

Ellen Rathbone December 2, 2011 at 3:08 PM  

Looks like you have an eye for sports photography, too. Must be the artist in you!

Woodswoman Extraordinaire December 6, 2011 at 1:17 PM  

Thank you both. Biobabbler, you made me laugh out loud with your comment about trying to see the puck. And make me feel a little better about some of my lousy blurry hockey shots.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire December 6, 2011 at 1:19 PM  

Thank you both. Biobabbler, you made me laugh out loud with your comment about trying to see the puck. And make me feel a little better about some of my lousy blurry hockey shots.

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