Indoor Sports Photography on a Budget - The Technique
(Photo - Nikon D750 / 70 to 200 mm / f2.8 @ 70 mm
1/500th Sec / f2.8 / ISO 4000)
Indoor Sports Photography on a Budget
I've covered the Technique for Outdoor Sports Photography on a Budget in an earlier Blog. This particular Blog looks at differences in technique for Indoor Sports Photography.
(If you've already read the technique Blog for Outdoor Sports photography, then just skip over the bits which are a 'cut & paste' from that Blog.)
1 - Sports Photography is really Action Portraiture - It's all about the Face!
Indoor or Outdoor Sports photography is really Action Portraiture! And it's all about the face. So make sure you focus on the face and capture the players' agony or ecstasy of the moment. So you will want to photograph the players coming towards you so you can see their face. In Indoor Sports photography you can get really close to the players so you should be able to get some great facial expression shots.
2 - Get as Low as You can Go!
Just as for Outdoor Sports Photography. Don't stand up! Sit. Kneel. Squat. Get down low! The lower viewpoint really does add to the overall 'feel' of the shot. In fact, of all my sports photography 'hints & tips', this is the one which most people cite as making a massive difference to their shots.
3 - Shoot wide - leave space between the hands & feet and the edge of the viewfinder
Just as for Outdoor Sports Photography, if you want to shoot a group of players, leave room in the viewfinder for their hands & feet! I tend to zoom out from the group until I get a good border around the viewfinder image which is clear of hands & feet. You can always crop in later when you are editing. But you can't put in cut-off hands & feet if you take the shot too closely zoomed in.
4 - Shoot close - Head & Shoulders of One or Two Players
As in portraiture they will be times when you want a full length portrait (ie including the hands & feet!). And there will be times when you want a head & shoulders portrait. Again, I tend to shoot a little wide and then crop in during editing.
5 - Watch the Background
Just like normal portraiture, beware of the background. If it is 'busy' - full of the crowd, gym gear, whatever, it will be a distraction. Such background distractions can be a particular challenge for indoor venues. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid but often by changing your viewpoint - moving left or right a few paces - the background improves.
And just like its Outdoor cousin, there may be an upper level / viewing gallery from which you can look down on the court area. This will give you a different viewpoint and the court floor is typically fairly uniform and thus is a good, non-distracting background.
6 - What about the Ball? Shuttlecock? Disc?
Obviously you will want some shots which include a player with the ball / shuttlecock / disc etc. But not every shot needs to include the ball etc. My approach to sports photography is to treat it like portraiture so if the ball is in shot, that's a bonus. But, typically, only about half my shots will have the ball etc in them.
7 - Running Past? Running Towards?
As I touched on above, you will generally want to shoot the player as they run towards you. Pictures of backs of heads are not that appealing. Remember, you want to see - and focus - on the player's face - and that means they will be running towards you.
8 - Sideline or Goal-line?
You want to be as close to the action as possible, so you want to be right on the side-line. (But do keep an eye out for the play and NEVER get in the way of any of the players!)
Sideline shots can be good as players run towards you. Goal-line shots are obviously good. I tend to do some research before the game and position myself near the goal-line of the weaker team as this is probably where the stronger team is going to score.
9 - RAW or JPEG?
Many sports photographers shoot JPEG. (As indeed do many wedding photographers.) If the light is reasonable JPEG is absolutely fine. Typically I shoot both RAW and JPEG but if the lighting is good I go straight to the JPEGs in the editing process.
If I am shooting an outdoor night game I will mostly use the JPEGs but if there is a shot in which I need to recover a considerable amount of detail in a deep shadow area I will then go to the RAW file.
But, by and large, for outdoor daylight sports - and indeed for well-lit indoor sports - JPEG are the way to go.
For indoor sports, largely so I can fix any White Balance issues during the editing process, I shoot RAW. This also means I can completely forget about any White Balance issues during the shoot and concentrate more on getting some decent shots.
10 - Practise Makes Perfect!
Practise makes perfect. The more sports photography you do, whether it is indoors or outdoors, the better you will get. So, crack on!
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