Creating images on bright, sunny days is challenging. When there is not a cloud in the sky, it’s ideal for going to the beach, but not perfect for photography. I like to meet this challenge and concentrate on creating different images on clear sunny days.
How to Create Images Like This One?
Key to an image like this is waiting until the sun has moved from directly overhead to where it lights your subject from the side.
This image was taken in the late afternoon on a sunny winter day. My earlier images were dominated by high contrast between light and shadow with the bright sun directly overhead. I was patient and waited for the sun to move lower in the sky, allowing the subject to be lit more side on than from above.
What About Background?
Look for a plain, evenly lit background. In this case it is a section of the fence which is in near total shadow. It provides a simple, plain background where the subject stands out.
To create this image, I am shooting almost directly into the sun. This leaves the subjects has in shadow and highlights the rim of light on his figure. Don’t be afraid to shoot into the sun. While you are there, you can also create interesting images using the subjects shadow. As the sun moves lower in the sky, the shadows are longer and provide more options.
Wait for the Action
Establish the background you are going to use to create your image, and then be patient! Take some test shots. Wait for the action to happen in the spot you know will work. You will be well on your way to creating different images on clear sunny days.
Thank you for reading. Next time you are out with the camera on a sunny day, see if you can create some really different images.
Shooting the FIBA World Cup qualifying series at John Cain Arena, Melbourne, Australia was a lot of fun. It was high quality basketball with big crowds. Here are some observations from shooting international basketball.
What was the Assignment
This assignment was through my business, Melbourne Sports Photography. It involved shooting the games for an international photo agency, and transmitting images to them during the game.
I photograph a lot of basketball but it was unique to be shooting international teams with multiple games across 5 days.
Observation 1 – The Higher the Standard, the Better the Facilities
It often seems ironic, and also obvious, that the higher standard of sport brings higher quality facilities. At John Cain Arena the lighting is very good and that has an impact on the quality of images.
At my local basketball stadium, I am typically shooting at 1/800s, f2.8 and ISO8000. The high quality lighting at John Cain Arena meant I was able to shoot at 1/1000s, f4 and ISO2500.
This has a positive impact on the image quality.
Great stadium lighting helps shooting international basketball
Observation 2 – Big Crowds Mean Limited Mobility
Big crowds bring great atmosphere to the event, but they also limit where the photographer can move. In addition, having multiple photographers at the event also means there are several people vying for the key court-side spots.
Observation 3 – High Pressure Environment
Shooting, downloading, selecting and transmitting images to an international agency while the game is in progress comes with pressure. I am grateful there is a lot of action in international basketball. That allows action images to be shot in the early part of each quarter, leaving time to select and transmit the images. Teams taking time outs certainly helps when there is time pressure too!
Observation 4 – Expect a High Energy Environment
A big crowd and lots of action results in a fun atmosphere. Throw in a vocal announcer and loud music and you have a high energy environment. Expect this and plan for how you will work effectively in similar circumstances.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on shooting international basketball.
I’m returning to Beyond Here having been so busy in my sports photography business over the last 4 months that there hasn’t been time for much else. What a welcome change from the last 2 years where coronavirus restrictions were a major impact. And ironically, right at the moment, I’m writing this while in covid isolation! What to write about? Given my sports focus it seems right to share plenty of tips for action sports photography.
Tip 1 – Moments of Crazy Action
There are times in sports games when there is so much crazy action it is too much to take in. This is a time to be shooting heavily. Moving from subject to subject and looking to capture the action that the eye and the brain don’t have time to process. First of my tips for action sports photography, when the action gets crazy that’s the time to shoot heavily.
When the action heats up, keep shooting
Tip 2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot an Extreme Close Up
It’s not easy to shoot extreme close ups. You will have many misses and failures. But extreme close ups can show detail of the game that you will not see from afar. The players expressions, their concerns, their determination. Shoot really close up images using a long lens, or crop significantly in post production to get the same effect.
Extreme close ups show a view you can’t observe with the naked eye
Tip 3 – When There’s no Action Look for Images which Tell a Story
There is not always fast paced action at sports events. Sometimes there are weather delays or injury breaks or just normal scheduled breaks in play. This is a good time to seek out images which tell a story even though they may not have extreme action.
This night when I went to the cycling, after about 15 minutes of racing there was a major crash and injury. All racing for the evening was called off, and at this point cyclists were returning to the starting area with their own bikes and others which had been involved in the crash. No great action is shown but it tells a story cyclists can relate to. Pushing your own bike, and carrying a friend’s mangled one.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy these brief tips for action sports photography.
Summer is a super time for shooting outdoor sports and capturing action. Lots of people are enjoying the warm weather, getting exercise, and enjoying social time. Here are some tips for photographing tennis.
Tip #1 – Making use of Different Light Conditions
In this post I am including images shot in very different lighting conditions – day, evening / twilight, and night. All offer great opportunities to shoot different styles of images.
Daytime images will typically offer the brightest lighting conditions
Day time images will usually offer the brightest light and will make capturing fast action easier. Twilight images create opportunities for silhouettes and more unique images. And night shots will often give you the opportunity to have the well lit player stand out from the dark background. Explore all lighting conditions for variety in your images.
Tip #2 – Explore Different Shooting Angles
On a tennis court the action takes place in a defined space. If you’re not careful your images can begin to look the same. Try exploring different shooting angles to create variety and interest.
A low angle adds interest in this image
Tip 3 – The Ball Adds Interest
It is not a universal rule, but in general, images which include the ball are more interesting than those without. Don’t take this as a golden rule, but do observe your own images. That makes your timing important to be able to capture the ball in your images while it is close to the player.
Try including the ball in your image
Tip #4 – Use Fast Shutter Speeds
Capturing the split second action while the ball is close to the player requires good timing and equipment. It is something which definitely gets better with practice. Use fast shutter speeds to help you freeze the action. How fast? The image above is benefiting from shooting into the bright sun allowing a shutter speed of 1/8000s.
Tip #5 – Close Ups Can be Very Interesting
Try shooting very close up images of tennis players. I don’t mean to stand super close (!) but use a zoom lens to create an image which captures the player’s facial expression. Very close up images can be super interesting.
Tennis close up images can be very interesting
Thanks for reading these tips for photographing tennis. Happy shooting!
Here in Melbourne, Australia we are in Covid lock down number 4, giving me plenty of time to reconnect with my love-hate relationship with this blog! Prior to lock down it has been a super busy time shooting basketball, football, tennis and hockey. Through the local basketball club I have made a connection with another sports photographer who is looking for some advice on shooting basketball. Check out this post 5 Tips for Photographing Basketball. Below are more tips for photographing basketball.
Tip #1 – Include the Ball in Your Shot
Basketball – like most ball sports – revolves around the ball. As a general comment, images which include the ball are going to be more interesting than images without the ball. The ball provides context and focus for the action unfolding around it. Aim to have the ball visible in the majority of your images.
Tip #2 – Players Faces Make Images More Interesting
As a general rule in sports photography, images where you can see the players faces are going to be more interesting than players backs. For this reason I generally sit at the end of the basketball court and aim to create images of the team running towards me, where I can easily see their faces. Side on images can be interesting too, but if you want to see the players faces more consistently, shoot from the end of the court.
Shooting from the end of the court makes it easy to see players faces
Tip #3 – Look for Emotion
Basketball is a terrific game for capturing action and emotion as it all happens in a confined space. Displays of emotion are fairly predictable in a close game. Your can almost guarantee that there is going to be lots of emotion on display in the early stages of an important game, and at the closing stages of a close game.
Look for emotion on the bench and between players.
The bench is a great area to capture the emotion of the game
Tip #4 – Experiment with Slow Shutter Speeds
Basketball is a fast paced, high intensity game ideal for fast shutter speeds to freeze the action. Once you have plenty of those images, experiment with slow shutter speeds to create unique and interesting images. I usually look to a shutter speed around 1/20s but the exact speed you choose will depend on the age and speed of the players you are photographing. Pan along with the action as it unfolds. Expect to have lots of ‘failures’ with this technique, and a handful of winners which are unique.
Experiment with slow shutter speeds to create unique images
Tip #5 – Consider Your Background
It’s most common to focus on the subject of your image, and easy to forget about your background. Basketball can have a range of different backgrounds – crowds, signs, blank walls, other games – so consider what you what your background to be and the story you want it to help tell.
Consider the background for your images
Thanks for reading more tips for photographing basketball. Happy shooting.
Today’s featured photographer on Beyond Here is sports photographer Sally Jacob. Sally is originally from Yorkshire, England and is now living in Melbourne, Australia. Read on to learn more about sports photographer Sally Jacob.
Well, it’s always been about sports photography. I have done a bit of food photography, I spent some time publishing a recipe book with my mum. Just sold our 400th copy. Woo! I worked a season in Greece photographing holidaymakers participating in sports activities and portraits. I’ve always been most interested in sports photography. I recently gave up hospitality work to devote myself to photography full time, mainly for Melbourne Sports Photography. I’m from England where I shot a lot of local football and since being here in Australia have found it fun learning Australian Rules Football whilst photographing a lot of junior games. I have just been photographing a lot of basketball, which was another new sport for me, which has been fun.
Image copyright Sally Jacob
Deciding to Pursue Sports Photography
How did you decide you wanted to be a sports photographer?
I did skydiving while at school and was fearless! There was a guy jumping alongside me photographing it. I thought what a cool job and that’s when I decided how fun it would be to be a sports photographer. Following a photographer, Christian Pondella, I just couldn’t quite believe that photographing in the mountains was his job. How cool.
I went straight from college to university to study Press and Editorial Photography at Falmouth University and got into photographing the local rugby for the paper, which I found a lot of fun and I learnt a lot about how to shoot sports. Currently I’m thinking a lot about how to get access to big sporting events, whilst trying to build up my range of equipment. I can tell I still have far to go however I moved to Australia a year and a half ago and have felt a huge amount of encouragement and am learning everyday.
Which are your favorite sports to photograph?
Anything outdoors! Tennis is currently number one. I grew up with tennis and had a great time at the Australian Open this year. I didn’t have media access but still managed to get some shots on the outside courts of some top players. This was a huge highlight for me and has made me realize how much I want that accreditation.
Image copyright Sally Jacob
What challenges do you come across as a young sports photographer?
I guess finance is a big challenge. The top gear is really expensive for anyone but I haven’t got a lot of savings or money! Older, more experienced people are constantly telling me that there’s no money in sport photography anymore which can sometimes be off putting when you’re about to put everything you’ve got into a new lens. But then again, I guess the fact I am young, I don’t have a mortgage or family I need to provide for . I do love to travel though, and maybe the job could help with that.
What opportunities do you see?
Well, every year I hear more and more stories about women in sports, and women working in sports. It seems like there are so many more opportunities out there for me than there perhaps would have been in the past. It was great to watch some tennis this year at the Australian Open and see a good handful of female photographers.
Looking forward, which are the sports you’d most like to shoot in the years ahead?
Well, the Australian Open tennis is something I can’t stop thinking about. So that’s a goal for the next year. In the future I’d love to shoot the Olympics and the winter Olympics would be pretty cool. I still feel I have far to go and need to work out what I need to do to reach these goals, but I’m feeling ambitious these days!
Image copyright Sally Jacob
What advice would you give to aspiring sports photographers?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. Always ask for feedback and take it on board. If you are new to sports photography, start with a sport you know – it’s easier to shoot something if you know what’s about to happen. Don’t be afraid to shoot in tight. And just have fun with it, play around, try a different perspective.
Thank you for reading about Melbourne based sports photographer Sally Jacob.
(Editor’s note – I have known Sally for the last 12 months and have done work with her for Melbourne Sports Photography shooting basketball, Australian Rules football, diving, cheer leading and dance, gymnastics, and cycling.)
I recently wrote a post for Beyond Here called Choose Your Photography Jobs Carefully. It outlines my experience doing some interesting sports photography work but having issues with payment. In this post I have an update, it’s called turning negative experiences to positive.
My recent experience, like this basketball player, had me down but not out
I was dealing with a reasonably well known business, but having issues getting paid. I remained polite through all communications and provided details of which invoices were outstanding, when they were due, how long they were now overdue, and copies if requested. There were a series of reasons provided about why payment had not yet been made, and then steadily, one by one, each was paid over a period of weeks. So there’s the good news – payment came through ok.
Ready to rise again
A Choice to Make
I’d committed to shooting another job for them, but hadn’t received payment for the earlier jobs. What to do? I considered what was my best course of action, and perhaps they anticipated this as payment was made a few days before the job.
Turning Negative Experiences to Positive
So with a degree of uncertainty I shot the additional job – a 5 hour sports photography assignment shooting a cross country event. I was shooting alongside the owner of the business. How did I go about turning negative experiences to positive? It turns out I had many things in common with the owner of the business. Perhaps the biggest and most important was a common enjoyment of photography and sport. We got along reasonably well, and were able to put aside the slow payment issue and focus on doing a good job photographing the cross country event.
What Is the Positive?
There were three clear positives which came from this experience.
First was that I enjoyed the cross country photography assignment and made stronger industry contact in the process.
Second, while on the job I was asked if I could help with an additional job. This is the sign of a good relationship.
And third, payment from the cross country assignment came through 4 days after the invoice had been sent through. I am expecting that prompt payment will be the norm in the future.
There it is! Thanks for reading Turning Negative Experiences to Positive.
This week the Australian Gymnastics Championships start here in Melbourne, Australia. This is the national champs and is the highlight of the Australian gymnastics year. I’m shooting a big football job tomorrow, and at the same time am preparing to shoot gymnastics. Here’s a run down of the gear which will be in the bag from Monday.
Gymnastics action is fast so we need gear that can keep up
I’ll be carrying all my equipment for this event, so gear selection is a balance between taking everything (!) and being able to carry it. One thing which is non negotiable is having backups in case of a gear failure. There will be a minimum of 2 DSLRs and 2 lenses in the bag. Unfortunately I won’t know the access my media accreditation gives me until I get to the event. This makes planning tricky. Last year I had full access to the gym floor, meaning close access to the athletes. I hope that is the case this year!
My go to, and most used, lens is the 70-200mm f2.8. It will definitely be in the bag and will likely to be the lens which gets the most use.
The 70-200mm lens will definitely be in the bag
I will likely only take one other lens to minimize the weight of my bag. That will be the 24-70mm f2.8.
Shoot planning is a key part of preparing to shoot gymnastics. At this stage I’m planning for access to the floor area like last year. I’ve studied my images from the previous national champs, planning for some I want to repeat, and some which I want to improve. This year I’m planning to shoot plenty of fast shutter speed “action freezing” images, more multiple exposures, and also to experiment with slower shutter speeds.
My key driver in preparing to shoot gymnastics is having enough equipment to get the job done, but also to minimize weight. The event runs every day for 2 weeks (though I’m not planning to attend it all) and so minimizing weight becomes even more important. The bag will have 2 lenses, 2 DSLRs, plenty of memory cards, back up batteries, battery chargers (to use between sessions), a cloth to clean lenses, food and a bottle of water. Thanks for reading – preparing to shoot gymnastics. Here’s to a great 2 weeks!
I’m looking forward to the spectacular action of the gymnasts
I photograph a lot of basketball. Over the last 5 years this has mainly been kids basketball, and in the last 12 months much more senior basketball. Basketball can be tricky to shoot – it’s fast moving, players movements are unpredictable, and often it is in dark stadiums. Here are 5 tips for photographing basketball.
Tip #1 – Use Fast Shutter Speeds to Freeze Action
Basketball is a fast moving sport. In the junior age groups there is lots of running and dribbling. As the players get older there is more passing and shooting. Whether you are shooting juniors or seniors you’ll need to shoot at 1/1000s as a minimum to freeze the action and have sharp images.
Use fast shutter speeds to freeze the action. This shot is 1/2500s.
Tip #2 – Shoot Close Ups AND more Distant Images
The first image in this post shows a close up of the player as she drives to the basket with a defender right in her face. These make interesting images as they show what spectators can’t see in a fast moving game. Shoot plenty of close up, and don’t forget to shoot images which show more of the game, the court, the spectators and the scoreboard. Look to shoot a variety of images which show all aspects of the game, not just player close ups.
Shoot a wide variety of images at different focal lengths
Tip #3 – Look for People Interacting
Action makes great images, and interaction between people makes great images. Look for interaction between team mates, between one team and the other, between coach and players, and particularly between referees and coaches. Tip number 3, look for people interacting.
It’s very common for the referee and coach to have a discussion. Look for that interaction to create strong images.
Tip #4 – The Bench is a Great Source of Images
You may not always think to look to the bench, but ironically this is where you’ll find a lot of players. And where you find players you find interaction, communication and emotion. Take time to shoot the emotions you find on the bench.
Take time to shoot images of the bench. Here you’ll find a lot of interaction, communication and emotion.
Tip #5 – Shoot Close Up Details
My final tip is to shoot what a spectator can’t see from the stands – the close up details. It might be a player lacing up their shoes, the facial expressions in a timeout, or the moment before a free throw is attempted. Zoom in to see what a spectator can’t see – shoot the close up details.
Thanks for reading 5 tips for photographing basketball. Happy shooting.
Last week I was photographing a major gymnastics competition, the Gymnastics World Cup competition held in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve shot a fair amount of gymnastics in the last year – from recreational gymnasts through to some of the world’s best. Here are 5 thoughts from photographing a major gymnastics competition.
Thought #1 – Subject Matter Matters
Photographing a World Cup event is very different than shooting recreational gymnasts at the local club. The strength, flexibility, and balance of the top gymnasts is quite amazing and leads to unique images that can’t be produced with less capable athletes. So, thought number one from photographing a major gymnastics competition is that subject matter matters. If you want to shoot really unique images, it helps to start with subjects who can do unique things.
To produce unique images it helps to start with subjects who can do unique things
Thought #2 – Be Different
In the women’s beam competition there were 9 photographers located to the right and back of the image above. They were literally on top of each other shooting the same subject from the same angle (I took a photo of them to amuse myself). While there is an argument that there is a “best position” to photograph each apparatus, be brave enough to be different. I stood on the opposite side of the floor. It meant I didn’t have a great shot of the women’s beam competition, but I was the only photographer shooting the men’s vault. Vault is difficult to shoot so many photographers decided not to. I like the opportunity to shoot unique images. Be brave. Be different.
I know the images I shot of the men’s vault competition are unique as I was shooting all alone. All the other photographers were together shooting women’s beam
Thought #3 – Look for Bold Colors
Gymnasts wear unique clothing for their competitions. They range from simple all black or all white, through to multi colored and patterned designs. Looks for bold colors to help create strong images. Particularly look for reds and blues. Bold colors will help your images stand out.
Bold colors (especially reds and blues) will help your images stand out
Thought #4 Shoot a Range of Apparatus
At some gymnastics events there are multiple apparatus going at one time. In that case you have to choose which one to shoot, or get lucky and find a position where you can shoot multiple apparatus from one location. At this event, there were only 2 apparatus operating at one time. That made it easy to make sure you created variety in your images by shooting different activity. It reminded me to shoot a range of apparatus so your images don’t all look the same. That’s thought number 4 from photographing a major gymnastics competition.
If you stay on one location your images will look similar. Move to different locations and shoot different apparatus
Thought #5 Interesting Images Aren’t Only of Competitors
At a big sporting event there are lots of people and lots of activity. There are many compelling images waiting to be made from people other than competitors. Keep an eye out for judges, coaches, spectators, and other people involved in the event but not directly competing. Shooting these images well will guarantee you produce unique content.
Keep an eye on judges, coaches, spectators and other people to produce unique images
If you’d like more tips on shooting gymnastics please see: