Sports & Events - danielwee

Sports and Events Photography


One of the most important aspect and success of Sports and Events Photography is location. The Sports venue plays a very significant role, some stadiums like the Bishan Stadium has very complicated and messy background making it quite challenging to shoot.  The lighting conditions are also critical.  In sports and fast action activities, what we need is fast shutter speed to freeze the moment.  Poor lighting such as badly lit indoor, extreme weather, etc, will result in slow shutter speed and for most of us, to compensate with that, we have to increase ISO which sometimes render an output of noisy photos.  Do not forget to do some panning and motion shots to get some striking motion blur photos on top of crispy clear shots.


In Sports and Events, we want good action shots.  Apart from a good venue for shooting, we would need special media passes to get down to as near as possible to where the action is, but this is sometimes difficult to get by with many conditions given by organizers or simply disallowed entry.  Next is to know the sports or events itself before shooting. We should be able to anticipate what kind of shots we want to achieve and burst at the most appropriate time.  Look at what is the background so that your shots will not be messed out but if you are doing for some brand, probably they will want you to shoot with the brand within the 4 corners of your photos.  Yes, timing!  Capturing the peak and most dramatic moment such as athletes' expressions and interactions is most desired but some sports are predictable while others are haphazard. Which Lens focal length to use really depends on how far you are from the action itself. Some literature recommendation is based on each 100mm for 9 metres of coverage.  Some sports, eg gymnastic, if we can get real close, we can use 200mm F2.0 (or sometimes even shorter lens) but generally I used my 300mm lens most of the time, if not 600mm.   Many events do not allow flash photography which we have to follow the rule to avoid being chased out of the sports venue. I personally have not shot golfing event, but my friends did and organisers are very particular that you should keep your photographing as quiet as possible and you have to shoot at silent mode.  If there are rehearsals for the events, it would be helpful to got to the venue to practice first so that we are familiar with the flow of activities and know exactly what and which moments you wish to capture.  Another technique is capturing specific moment using remote control and pre-focus at a specific point and burst away when the action happen. (horse racing, athletes jumping across bar etc) Bokeh..... yes, everyone wants bokeh. So usually I will open aperture to its biggest, for example 2.8 for those prime lens with 2.8 or F4 for my 600mm lens.  Even if we opened to the widest aperture, when the subject or action is at the far end, it is still unavoidable to have a messy background. For events such as Chingay Parade, 70-200mm2.8 lens would be a good and fast lens for walkabout but for most sports events, a longer lens would be preferred (200mmF2 or 300mm or beyond)


There is some advice which I have not followed and that is to shoot in portrait orientation rather than landscape for sports event. I have been shooting all in landscape orientation and crop whenever necessary.  I probably will try to switch to both orientations on the fly in future and update more: switch to portrait orientation when it is individual or those that jump vertically (e.g. basketball) and then switch to landscape orientation when seeing group conflict.  Yes, the usual Rules-of-Third should continue to be practiced in sports or events photography but it really all depends on what impact you want to achieve, break the rules at time.

  • Sports & Events