Shooting Indoor Sporting Events

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Shooting Indoor Sporting EventsPhotographing motion is one of the hardest things to learn. That is what makes shooting indoor sports so difficult. With the often inadequate lighting and fast action, getting just one decent photograph can be a challenge.

The main things to do when you want to learn how to take a good sports photograph is practice, practice and…you guessed it! Practice. This is why, when I was just starting out as a photographer, I went down to the local gym and tried to get some decent photos. My friend was practicing mixed martial arts at the time, and he let me take his pictures while grappling with a professional grappling dummy. This was perfect for me because the motion was not as sudden and fast as in, for example, basketball, and I managed to capture some barely decent shots. This is what I learned since.

  • You have to have the right gear for the job

When talking about gear, the first thing you need to have is a reliable DSLR. There is no need to spend a huge pile of cash on one – an average camera should do the trick. The next thing to look out for is a good fast lens with a long zoom and large aperture.

  • Get there earlier to test the grounds

Each sport has its own tempo and rhythm, and every gym had different lighting. It’s best that you get to the location early to get a good position and test out your settings. I learned this the hard way. When I was shooting my friend striking a combat sports dummy, I could get up close and personal. But when it came time for me to shoot the actual competition, I arrived too late and could only get up to about 15 meters from him. That made it more difficult for me to get any good shots. Remember – early bird gets the worm (or in this case, photo!).

  • Getting rid of motion blur

One of the biggest problems when shooting indoor sports is motion blur. The first thing to do when you want to get rid of it is increasing the shutter speed. I usually set the speed somewhere between 1/500s to 1/1000s. This serves to freeze the motion and make photographs suspenseful and well illuminated.

Another great tip is using flash when you need to add more light. Be careful, though – many venues forbid the use of flash since it can distract the players. To circumvent this, you can always use the strobe lights which a lot of venues have installed in the rafters. Get a master/slave flash system and you will be able to flash the upper lights without the risk of distracting the players.

The final big tip in avoiding motion blur is using a high, or even the highest ISO speed setting. One problem with this is that the photos might end up being grainy, but I think that, in these cases, it’s better to have a sharp photo that’s a bit grainy than having an unusable blurry one.