Resources from Justin Tedford

Sports/Action Photo Test

Click here to take the Action/Sports Photography Test online.

Now that you've learned a little bit about coordinating your shutter speed with aperture (pages 20-25 in Chapter 1), it's a great time to go ahead and try capturing some action, whether that means sports or not. Please take the test above by or before Friday, Sept. 23.

Shooting Assignment- Due Monday, September 26

Shoot as many action or sports pictures that you can. Running, jumping, sledding, gymnastics whatever. Upload at least 10-15 to your Flickr stream and choose the best 3 or 4 to add to our class Flickr group. Be sure to comment on some of your classmate's pictures. THIS TIME- You will fill out a on the very best one.

I would LOVE to use some of your pictures in the yearbook. I know Katie & Ally play VB, but maybe you could shoot the other squad while you're not playing or practicing (if you're JV, shoot Var. If you're Var. shoot JV). Can any of the 3 of you shoot Junior High FB or VB?

Be that as it may- you can shoot people running or jumping or throwing anywhere & anywhen. Not every action pic is sports and not every sports pic is action (practice, warm up, stretching, resting, drinking, sweating, and reactions from the bench can all make outstanding, amazing sports pictures).

Learning to See

THIS WEEK's Photo Analysis Form, will be of a sports or action picture. Please look at some sports photos and complete a Photo Evaluation form for at least one. You can choose any sports picture from anywhere you'd like, including searching for one on Flickr or from a print magazine or newspaper, but here are some links to web sties where you can find a lot of good ones:

The Best Advice I can Give You

Click here to see my Flickr set of Action/Sports Photos
  • Shoot with the action coming toward you, not side-to-side across in front of you. Obviously, you can't be on the field/court and get run over by the action, but you should at least be at a 30-45 degree angle as opposed to 90 (perpendicular). See the "Where to Shoot" handout.
  • Use a flash to freeze the action- but beware of it's limitations (see pp. 142-147 in the book). Closer than 5 feet and your image will be all white (washed out, overexposed). Further than 15 feet away and it won't help much at all, which brings me to the next point-
  • Get as close to the action as you can. Sure, as you'll read in the 'Advice Online' articles, powerful telephoto and zoom lenses are nice if you have a full-blown DSLR like the pros have are nice, but as your find out in chapter 2 (esp. pp. 30-31) a long focal length and narrow angle of view can be a problem, making it really hard to prevent blurry action. TOO FAR AWAY AND... the narrow angle of view of a long focal length means the action will blur easily, the flash will be of no help at all, and your picture will probably be grainy. You need to be between 3 feet (1 yard) and 30 feet (10 yards) from the action if you can be, 15 is usually perfect. When you're sitting in the stands, you're anywhere from 50-100 feet away.
  • Shoot practice- Sometimes coaches will allow you to take pictures during warm-up drill before a game. This way you can be places that refs and umps will never let you go during the actual game. This is great for football, since the lighting is better and it's also wonderful for baseball and softball. It's a chance to get under the setter in volleyball. But this isn't just good for getting things that look like game action, stretches and warm-ups make terrific shooting subjects too.
  • Capture their face if possible- sometimes you can't get the actual action, but if you can get a grimace or a wince, celebration, surprise, shock, struggle or suffering on your subject's face- then you've really capturing and telling a STORY!
  • ANTICIPATE- have that shutter button half-way depressed so that all your automatic sensors are on so that you're ready to push the button all the way down and capture the action as soon as it starts or you'll miss it!
  • Take WAY more pictures than you think you need. Let's say you want to shoot someone jumping, you may have to have them jump over and over again until you can get it.
  • Capture the ball if possible. This is easier in football than volleyball! In golf, you may need to shoot putting. For summer ball, it may be easier to have the ball in the shot when a baseman is tagging a sliding runner than when it leaves a pitcher's arm- but that's not impossible.
  • Include an opponent if possible. This creates a more balanced composition and can create a sense of visual tension too, that means drama.
  • Bracket- "Bracketing" is when you take several pictures in a row, so that usually you end up with a couple of shots before and after the real action, this way you're more likely to actually catch the real action than if you only take one picture. Some cameras offer a continuous-shoot option, where the camera fires quickly 5-10 shots in a row. Sort of like a machine-gun as opposed to a mere rifle.
  • Use a high ISO- Generally you need 200, 400, or even 800 for indoor sports like volleyball and basketball.
  • Use the right setting- Some cameras have a sports setting, or you might try "Shutter-Priority" (mine says "Tv"). Either way, you want a fast shutter speed.
  • Try panning- This takes practice. I think pg. 21 in our book makes it sound easy. If you can do it, your subject will be sharp, but you the background will be blurry. This creates a greater sense of speed for your viewer. (in a later assignment, I'll have you take advantage of this phenomenon, see pp. 188-189)
  • Don't waste time "Chimping." Kenny Rogers once sang about a gambler, "you never count your money, while you're sittin at the table, there'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done." (see 8 Tips for Taking Sports Photos Like a Pro for a definition of chimping) if you're so worried about how great your last shot turned out or deleting the lousy ones, you might miss a great shot.

Advice Online

Here are a few sites/articles I found with pretty good advice. Please read at least 2 of the 3. I won't make you write a summary or fill out a study guide on them, but you might want to jot down a few notes for yourself. Not only is it good stuff that you can use, but it's fair game for me to quiz you one too!
  • Sports Photography Tips - Advice on how to take sports photos This is an Irish photographer, so all of his pictures are of soccer, but I think this is my favorite. He's clear, concise (brief) and illustrates what he's talking about well with his own pictures. Just use an Irish accent in your head while you read it. Please read it and take some notes for yourself.
  • Sport Photos: a how-to and tip guide from This is the longest, I won't blame you if you skip it- but if you're the least bit interested in sports and want to be the best sports photographer you can be, this has a load of in-depth information.
  • 8 Tips for Taking Sports Photos Like a Pro This is short and sweet, however, the author tells you some things that conflict a bit- but that's what makes him so fun and makes it such good advice. He tells you how to experiment so that you take really unique action pictures. Compare his advice to the advice I gave you above.

Put yourself in front of the action

Here's a hand-out with diagrams of some major sports and where you can get some of the best shots. There's still time to get in on some basketball, wrestling, and track. I hope you'll try shooting more this Summer and next Fall too and share what you get with me for Yearbook and with the Dunlap Reporter.