Sports photography. If you can master it, you’ll improve every aspect of your shooting. Much of your success will depend on what you do before you release the trigger.
1~ Pay attention to the background
More than anything else, this will take your action pictures to the next level. I can tell if a photographer knows what they’re doing just by looking at where they position themselves to shoot. Any busyness in the background will camouflage the action.
2~ Use fast telephoto lenses wide open
Shooting wide open helps to clean up the background and isolates your subject with shallow depth of field. Sports photographers generally do not use a lens slower than f 2.8.
3~ Keep alert
Expect the unexpected. You never know what’s going to happen at a sporting event. Avoid chimping! (editing your photos in camera)
Great shots don’t happen all the time. When they do, you not only have to be there to capture it, your camera skill has to be impeccable so you don’t miss it. It takes thousands of hours to build a portfolio.
5~ Try a wide angle
Any chance you get. Most sports pictures are telephoto. They all begin to look the same. Ask any picture editor. Stay low to the ground to clean up the background.
6~ Look for something different.
Quirky is what you want. Strange things happen when you freeze action. When shooting and editing, look for unique images that still show both teams and include the puck or ball.
There is mucho lighting gear out there. And it’s expensive. It can be overwhelming when you’re starting out. You don’t want to waste money on stuff you don’t really need.
All of my gear is from Paul C Buff out of Nashville. I can’t say enough about this company and their products. You can also buy directly from them out of Australia and Europe.
There is no “right” answer for what you need in the studio. But here’s what I use.
I own two White Lightning X1600 flash units. I only use one at a time. One is for backup.
They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use and bullet-proof. I’ve had one drop with a light stand into concrete from 10 feet high. Didn’t even faze it. The color balance is great and they recycle fast.
Ringflash is a specialty lighting effect. However this Ringflash doubles as a lightweight remote flash unit for location shoots. And for around 500 bucks, it’s not going to break the bank to get a ringflash. You can get cheaper one’s that attach to a speedlight. But they don’t have the same power. This one is plenty powerful. I’m going to do a shoot with it soon. So I might go into how it works on a future post. It can be tricky to use.
White High Output Beauty Dish
This has become my favorite light modifier. The light IS beautiful! You can’t beat it for crispness in the shadows and nice round catch lights in the eyes. If I had to pick one modifier, this would be it.
Large (32″ x 40″) Softbox
You really have to have one of these. It’s just indispensable for full-length fashion shots. A large Octabox is another good choice. I think I might get one of those soon.
This is what I use and it works for me. It’s fun to experiment, research and find out what lighting gear you want to get. I’m always looking to more lighting toys to the arsenal.
Depending on what you shoot, and what your lighting aesthetics are, you’ll end up with a completely different kit than mine. But I hope this helps.