Sports Photography Tips

Most of the time, good quality shots are rare. Why? Because not everyone has the time to be at the event on a regular basis to capture the unique action shot that will stand out from the rest. Adding further hardship to capturing good sports shots is the position you are able to get at the event. Lets face it, no one likes a 7ft basketballer bouncing up and down in jubilation on our camera bag while we are distracted with other things. Being too far away is also a problem, there’s only so much a lens can do if you want true quality.

If you manage to get close at a big game or indeed be fortunate enough to get a press pass, remember that the other photographers have also worked hard to get there as well. Show some consideration and you’ll get some in return. If you are forced to remain in the stands, get as close to the action as possible. It will make a difference believe me!

You will take better quality sports photos if you familiarise yourself with the sport first. It’s important to know when that special moment is about to occur or when it is most likely to occur. Find out what the fans like to see most. Is it first off the block in swimming? Is it shooting a goal while still off the ground in basketball? Always position yourself accordingly. Try to figure out what will be behind the player when you take your shots – this always improves the outcome!

There’s much more emphasis on timing with sports or indeed any kind of action photography. Your response and preparation for that crucial moment is paramount. Yes, the right place is important, so is the timing but execution is equally important. Sure, there are unpredictable moments but you’ll become better at preempting them with practice.

Someone said that if you see the action, you missed the action – I’ll bet it was a photographer who said it! You need everything ready to go at the time of play. This includes a rough idea of distance, lighting issues and more important, your own personal preparation for taking the shot. Almost a split second before it actually takes place.

In sports photography it is more often the photographer not the camera that is important. Remember that! You will need to have good equipment, don’t misunderstand me. However, the really good shots are not luck coming your way. You should strongly consider a 85mm lens, a 135mm lens and perhaps a 200-300mm lens for end of court or field shots. With soccer, baseball, surfing, cricket and rugby a 300-400mm is definitely needed.

Cutting Through The Red Tape

HANDLE WITH CARE

As stock photographers, it’s rare that we can get our pictures without first having to get permission from someone. Security is getting tighter and tighter in many sectors, and it’s sometimes understandable that because of past abuses — or the increase in population — it’s necessary to screen who takes pictures of what. You’ll encounter officials in many forms: gate keepers, receptionists, policemen, bureaucrats, teachers, secretaries, security guards. You’ll even encounter unofficial officials: janitors, ticket takers, bystanders, relatives of officials, etc. But no matter who presents her/himself as an ‘official’ (barrier) to your picture-taking, handle them with care and allot an amount of time that you sense will appease their “need” to detain you.

One of the easiest officials-eliminators is the “I need your help” statement. In the case of the football gate attendant, you say, “Could you help me? I need to get a picture of the kick-off (you look at your watch) for _______ (your assignment or name of publication) — could you tell me the quickest way to the 50-yard line?”

If an official wants to know something about you — why you’re here, what the pictures will be used for [incidentally – here’s the answer for that one: “I represent the John Doe Stock Photo Agency — and I’m John Doe — these pictures go into my on-line gallery of over 3,000 stock photos — they’re used in magazines, books, posters, calendars, textbooks, you name it! “-(smile)] — explain everything to the official, the same as you would to the corporation executive you might be planning to photograph. Often, secretaries will know more about the schedule, commitments, etc. of the boss, than he or she does. Also, it’s wise to cultivate officials who could have access to information helpful to your picture-taking assignment.

When you encounter an official who isn’t cooperative — try offering to give him/her a copy of the picture you’re going to take. But don’t take his/her name on a piece of paper. Such papers either get lost or add to your office work. Instead, offer him your business card and say, “Here’s my address. Write or e-mail me in about two weeks – the picture will be processed by then.” Experience predicts you’ll never hear from him/her.

GAINING ENTRANCE

Should you carry a press card? For large, important events, written permission from headquarters is your best introduction to onsite officials (headquarters usually issues its own press cards, letters of introduction, tags, stickers, etc.). But for the 999 other events you’ll attend, officials don’t ask for a press card — if you’re carrying two or more cameras (around your neck), that’s official enough for them. If you don’t have extra cameras, buy a couple professional-looking (inoperative) ones at a flea market. They’ll be your passport to most any public event you want to photograph.

So if in the past you’ve found “officials” to be resistant — try the “handle-with-care” method. However, there’s an exception: If an official demands: “Wait over there; fill out this form; stand in line; I’ll put you on ‘hold’; I have to check with my boss first;” — then take a different approach: try a different official. In the case of the football gate attendant — if he were uncooperative — walk away, find another gate. In the case of an uncooperative receptionist — wait ’til she goes on coffee break, or lunch. The replacement might be more cooperative ( or you might figure out a better approach). If you carry a cell phone, get the name and number of the CEO. Generally you can get instant permission if your assignment is for a publication that has widespread influence in his/her trade area.

Organize Digital Photos

Archive Originals

Right after downloading your photos, it’s a good idea to burn them to CD or DVD. This prevents you from accidentally overwriting an original image. You can always go back to your disk to retrieve it. To save space you can keep adding new images until the disk is full. Be sure to label the CD with the year and note the contents whenever you add new pictures.

Delete Unnecessary Photos

After you’ve archived the original images to disk, review your downloaded images and purge unwanted shots. Delete badly exposed images, duplicates, out-of-focus shots, etc. If some are a little over or under exposed you can generally adjust them with your photo software, so unless you have a better version of an image, you may want to keep some of the so-so shots and fix them.

Name Your Images

Create a new subfolder to My Pictures whenever you download new photos. Don’t just dump them all into My Pictures. There are several methods for naming and structuring your folders. I like to organize my folders chronologically and put all photos for a particular year into subfolders under that particular year. Other people like to group their pictures by topic, such as Vacations, School, Sports, Baby, Wedding, Family, etc.

Tag Images

To help you find photos of specific subjects, you can use your photo album software to tag images with keywords. They can have a variety of attributes such as date, place, occasion, and person. For instance, you could label a picture of your daughter Kathy at her 10th birthday party at the zoo using the keywords Kathy, 10, birthday, zoo and then be able to search for all images with these tags, no matter where they are on your hard drive. This is a huge timesaver in helping you find favorite pictures. Initially it can be quite time-consuming to tag photos, but most software will let you batch label a group of photos with the same keywords. This greatly speeds the process.

Shooting the Perfect Headshot

The best headshots are usually produced with a simple neutral color backgrounds, beige to off-white are best for models with fair complexions. Dark backgrounds or various shades of red are frowned upon are reds have a tendency to ‘bleed’ and dark backgrounds appear to make the model look pale, even jaundice looking. Portraits are usually vertical rectangles but not always, if the image of the face is complimented by the background, or used for ‘artistic’ effects, then landscape images are acceptable.

D’ shot? That killer portrait than makes you appear to be a queen? Here are a virtual cornucopia of variables and myriad of stages that going to making the perfect head shot. Let’s take a look at some of shall we?

Location, location, location! Are you a nature buff or a studio connoisseur? True, most ‘headshots’ are performed in studios with appropriate backdrops. Not all photographers are the same when it comes to the ‘portrait’ shot. Sometime it will require taking a model into a grass laden field or wooded areas; then taking a wide selection of angles with veritable lenses; from full body to portrait . But never shooting between the hours of 11 and 2 in strong sunlight.

Experiment, experiment, experiment. Try shooting some shots with foreground objects such as models hiding behind strands of wheat, hugging a tree or other objects. Shoot below trees were the sunlight just trickles through the branches, leaving you with natural lighting, highlights and shades. Try Black and white images for the antique look.

What about the camera? There are two different format; digital and film.

In my opinion;

· a good brand of film

· a professional camera with appropriate settings

· proper lighting

· excellent film processing

can put most digital cameras to shame. Or so it used to be, with the onslaught of new technology, and more high tech gadgetry, film is slowly losing the battle.

But lets try to stay focused here…

So we talked about cameras, digital or traditional. Highlights, mid-tones and shadows. The makeup type of camera, f-stop settings, film or digital, and backdrops, you name it, it all plays a part in the perfect headshot

Decorating With Photography

The first thing you’ll want to consider is whether to have the photograph in black or white. This can be decided by many factors – for instance, in a modern bachelor apartment, a classy black and white photograph will look a lot better than a colorful montage. The same goes for a boardroom or office – staff or corporate photographs will usually look better in colour than a black and white print.

However, if you have a really good color photograph and you wish it were black and white (or vice versa), there are ways to achieve this. If the photograph has been taken via a digital camera, you can then upload it to a computer and use a program like PhotoShop or similar to edit it. This can give you a myriad of effects – from straight color swap to adding a tinge of sepia to give an air of aging, the possibilities are endless. Even if you’ve used a traditional still camera, you can ask for a CD when developing them that the negatives will be transferred to, so you can still upload them to a computer and amend with a photo editing software program.

Depending on what look you wish to go for in whatever room you’re putting the photograph(s) in, the frame is the next choice to make. If you wish, you can purchase different frames for different walls in the same room. Far from them not looking right, the different approach will allow them to be more prominent. Look to match them to your décor, if you wish, so that frame blends in with carpet, or rug, or sofa.

The next thing you may wish to consider is whether you want to hang a single picture, or a group together. This is fairly easy to decide – a single photograph picture frame will usually look out of place the larger the wall, so let that dictate your approach. Groups of frames offer a warmer sense of being, especially if it’s children and family. Have a collage of school photos from different ages as the central theme, and perhaps miscellaneous family photographs surrounding them to finish an inviting look.

The last thing you really need to decide is whether you wish to use your own photographs, or professional ones from an art shop. This is really down to how much quality you wish to involve. Although obviously not up to the standard of a professional photographer, your own photographs can be of a more than presentable quality, if you’re prepared to take the time to get the right shots. However, by mixing photographs from a studio with your own, you can achieve an excellent effect and add that little bit of difference to any room.

Sense of Depth in Photography

A photographer should know how perspective works and how to exploit it to render reality as he or she desires.

Simply stated, perspective relies on two fundamental rules:

  • The nearer the object, the bigger it appears.
  • Parallel lines seem to converge toward a point.

Our brain relies on these two tenets to perceive depth and distance. So, getting down to the nitty-gritty, if a photographer wants to create a conspicuous sense of depth, he should make the above-mentioned rules evident. On the contrary, if his aim is to make a picture look flat, he should minimize these two perspective effects.

Let us assume we want to produce a strong sense of depth. We can achieve our goal by inserting in our picture a few converging lines. The more converging, the more intense the sensation of depth. Alternatively, or together with it, we can put an object in the near foreground and a far background behind. The object in the foreground will appear bigger compared to the background and, again, this will improve our impression of depth. The nearer the object in the foreground, the higher the perception of depth. For instance, when shooting a landscape picture, have some flowers in the foreground and the panorama behind. On the other hand, if a photographer would like to make a picture look flat, he should remove any object in the foreground or step back from it so as to render it less conspicuous.

Be careful when getting closer to an object in the foreground, however, as it may get out of focus. Always keep an eye on the depth of focus of your camera and lens system when taking a picture. Both the foreground and the background should be in focus, unless a blur effect is intentional. So choose the aperture of your camera accordingly.

Film Verses Digital

To be honest; the reason you used the flash sync speed was because in most cases it was a mechanical speed, just in case you had one of those new fangled SLR’s that use electronic shutter. But besides the obvious dependency on a charged battery, there are other differences between film and digital cameras.

If you have ever shopped for a digital camera you have no doubt heard one of the key buzz phrases, “35mm equivalent”. This means that the optics are not exactly the same. Since the 35mm SLR camera has been the standard for the last 50 years, that’s what they compare it to. The difference between the two is a ratio of 1:1.4. Simply put, a 35-200 zoom on a digital camera would be like having a 49-280 zoom lens on a traditional 35mm camera.

The main reason the optics are different is because the sensor (the device that actually reads the light) is also a different size. Film cameras use a film sensitive to light that is placed directly behind the lens. When the correct exposure is calculated, that image is literately burned into the film. Digital cameras, on the other hand use a sensor; that also sits behind the lens. This sensor is made up of millions of individual points that each represents 1 pixel. Once the sensor has gathered the information for each pixel it then transfers that data to a digital media card of some type (which can be used again and again.)

Generally digital cameras use sensors that are smaller than the 35mm film used in older cameras. The Depth of Field changes with the size of the sensor, the smaller the sensor the higher the depth of field. The reason they are made the sensor smaller is generally a cost factor to the manufacturer.

The sensor is the physical device that gathers information about the quality of light coming into the camera. The process or “how” it goes about gathering that information is referred to as “metering. The human eye can see the world around it with a range of about 16 f-stops; camera meters on the other hand, only have a range of 5 f-stops at any given time. This is why camera meters are calibrated for “mid range” exposures of 18% gray, because 90% of the time that is as close as we will get to what the human eye can do. It’s not a fault that the camera can not see as good as you do, it’s simply a fact of life.

There are basically only three types of metering systems. They are:

  • Spot Metering
  • Center-Weighted Metering
  • Matrix Metering

Spot metering as the name indicates only reads a small spot or portion of the overall image (usually 1% to 3%). This type of metering is useful in any situation where the lighting is extreme. Backlit subjects, macro shots, or even pictures of the moon can benefit from this type of metering. This type of metering is usually found on the more costly upper end cameras.

Center-Weighted metering averages the overall scene with an emphasis on the center area of the frame. Usually this type of meter bases its reading with 75% of the light hitting center frame and 25% for everything else. It assumes that most people place their subject dead center, most of the time. It is worth noting that most center weighted systems have a greater sensitivity in the bottom half of the frame; to avoid an overly contrasting sky from throwing off the readings. This type of system is by far the most common used in digital cameras today. Even the higher end Digital SLR’s use this as their default setting.

Matrix Metering splits your image up into anywhere from 3 to 16 metering zones and evaluates the different zones to come up with one over all reading. In this process of evaluation it takes into account factors like: subject size, position, distance, point of focus, over all lighting, color and more. This system uses a microchip which has been exposed to thousands of different picture-taking situations. It is by far the most complex and the most accurate metering system to date. It is also usually found on the higher end Digital SLR’s.

I have used the word “digital” several times, but do not be deceived. These are the same type of metering systems used in traditional film cameras as well. The only other known way of reading light has to do with “reflected light” verses “surface light”. Most meters in the camera are reading reflected light (IE the light that is reflected off the main subject and reaches the camera.) Every so often you will see someone with a hand held light meter that will go right up to the subject and read the light that falls on the surface of that subject. Some photographers still debate which way is more accurate. The idea of the “Spot Metering” should accomplish the same thing, but for many photographers (fashion photographers in particular), the separate meter seems more standard.

With these points in mind, consider not only the differences but the similarities as well. All of us have our favorites; Canon, Nikon, Kodak. Some choose digital, some choose film. The things to remember are what we all need to get a great shot. Things like composition, leading lines, framing, and the rule of thirds are much more important to our success as great photographers than the physical tools we use to accomplish a great shot. On the other hand, knowing what your particular camera or metering system can or can not do, let’s you know if you have the right tool for the job.

Advantages of Online Photo Printing

Whether you are still printing your digital prints at home, using your own printer, or going through the hassle of popping into your local shopping centre to drop in and pick up your digital prints, why not try out some of the online photo processing companies – you will amazed at the cost of online photo printing!

Online photo printing offers the consumer a range of advantages including cheap pricing, fast delivery and a range of extras including the facility to create online photo albums, upload unlimited digital photos and, in many cases, share them for free with friends and family.

Photo sharing, in particular, is extremely popular with consumers because it enables us to create an online photo album of a holiday or special occasion and then email our friends and family with a link to the album which means that everyone gets to enjoy your snaps!

In most instances, the procedure for uploading the images to your album is easy and intuitive. Simply connect your digital camera to your computer, download the images to a location on your computer and then upload them directly into your photo album from your the online photo printing provider.

The online photo printing sector is also extremely price driven and you can easily compare the prices from a range of companies. Generally, the online photo printing companies offer low prices; with some starting from as little as 1p per print. However, don’t be misled because this low price often relates to you having to purchase a large quantity of digital prints in order to qualify for this price.

One of the best, and most reliable, providers of online photo printing is Truprint who offer 40 free prints to new customers, fast delivery, unlimited storage and the facility to share your pictures with friends and family.

Personalised photo gifts are also offered by many of these companies and these can provide the perfect gift for a friend or loved one. The range of photo gifts tends to differ between companies but typically includes photo cards, t-shirts, teddy bears, posters, puzzles, memory books, mugs and calendars.

Seeing the Light

All photographs need light, that’s obvious. But just as all photographers are not created equal,
neither is all light the same. Some of the types of light include: Natural light (the sun), fluorescent
light (overhead lighting), incandescent light (light bulb), Electronic light (Flash), Reflective light
(off of water or snow), Bounce light (off a ceiling or wall).

Photographers like Ansel Adams or Edward Weston have been known to wait for hours or even days,
until the light was just right. What makes the light just right? What was it they were waiting for? They
were waiting for “the right moment” that brief instant in time when all the elements and principles of design, happen at the same instant. As far as light is concerned, it must compliment your subject. It
must enhance the natural beauty, not distract. It must be one with the subject. Before I start sounding
too much like a Zen Buddhist Monk, let me give you some examples:

Most photographers when shooting outdoors prefer early morning or just before dusk in the evening.
The most obvious reason is that light is not as harsh. If you are trying to create the mood of a beautiful sexy model, you don’t want dark shadows that make her nose look like a small mountain peak. Likewise you want to be able to see her big beautiful eyes, not have her squinting so she looks like she’s in pain.

On the other hand, say you are trying to shoot an advertisement for some new sports drink. The
harsh sun glistening off, beads of sweat of a prominent athlete; may be exactly what you want. Does
that kind of make you thirsty? Good. That was the idea.

Reflections off a pond or lake are much more pleasing to the eye if it is overcast. A twinkle in the eye
is usually a quick bright light source at a slight angle from the subject. Red eyes are caused by a light source that is directly lined up with the subject’s eyes. (The light you see as “red eye” is nothing more than a reflection off the back of the eye.) The best way to avoid it is to move slightly up or slightly
down in relation to your subject.

Most indoor lighting will change the color of your film (unless you use a flash.) Florescent lights will
cast a blue- green (cool) color across the image. Incandescent lights will cast a yellow-orange (warm) color across the image. That doesn’t mean the light is wrong, if you choose the right subject. If you
are shooting fish in a fish tank, a blue green tint might actually improve the over all image. A nursing
child might benefit from the warm feelings of incandescent light.

Electronic flash is balanced for daylight, which means it’s the same as having the sun in your pocket.
You bring your light source with you. A flash can help good shots, look great. A flash can fill in harsh shadows. A flash can stop motion. A flash can allow you to take shots that your naked eye can not see.
A flash can become addictive, but remember it also has some negatives points. Red eye, washed out subjects, backgrounds that go totally black are some problems created by flash. Don’t get me wrong,
I love using flash, but to be fair, it CAN make things worse. Try bouncing your flash off a wall or ceiling for a more natural looking effect.

Your job as the photographer is to be aware of all these different types of light and know how they will affect your subject. When you use a fill flash outdoors with someone wearing a baseball cap you will actually be able to see their face. Others who think: “Oh, there’s plenty of light” will get really dark shadows and wonder why yours look so good. Anyone can rush out and buy a camera but remember;
the camera is only a tool, the light is what makes it just right.

Picture Frames and Photos

Picture frames are containers added to photos in order to enhance, protect and display photos. Some individuals even possess digital picture frames. The photo frame displays digital photos without the arduous need to print the photographs. Currently, digital photography unavoidably display the photos directly from the memory card of a camera–although a few styles may also provide internal storage to the memory. Some models can even load photos over the Internet from an RSS feed, by e-mail and photo-sharing websites like Picasa or Flickr. Most digital picture frames display photos as a slideshow. Digital photo frames can even play movie clips which are recorded in a camera’s movie mode (MP3 audio or MPG files).

The process of recording photos by means of capturing the light on a medium that’s light-sensitive,–sensor or film–photography is light patterns emitted from certain objects to expose a sensitive chemical (electronic medium) during a timed exposure. This is normally accomplished via a photographic lens in a camera, which also stores the resulting information electronically or with chemicals.

Since traditional photography burdened most photographers working at remote locales without the easy access to processing facilities, Kodak unveiled the new, sophisticated DCS 100, the very first commercial digital camera in 1990. Thus, commercial digital photography came to life. The high cost precluded uses other than professional photography and photojournalism. The primary contrast between chemical and digital photography is that analog photography does indeed resist manipulation since it entails film, photographic paper and optics. Digital photography is undeniably a highly manipulative medium, as it is quickly replacing film photography in professional and consumer markets.

Fortunately for the savvy consumer, most picture frames are simple and elegant to match with practically any furniture and appliance. Photos can come in picture frames that are available in gold, silver or sometimes even platinum colors, with a wide 3′ frame borders. This gives most picture frames the look of style and contemporary appeal, coupled with beauty and elegance to maximum expression. Most picture frames are manufactured and handcrafted for photos of weddings, birthdays, family gatherings and anniversaries.