The sporting season is ramping up here in the UK, which means there are more opportunities than ever to catch your favourite sports in person – and hopefully take some cracking photos…
Now that we’ve all got smartphones packed with Megapixels in our pocket, we’ve all become amateur photographers overnight. And, while some of us might be have an awesome, innate ability, a lot of us wish they could do better – especially when it comes to capturing athletes in motion.
But worry not: whatever your level of photography, we can help you take amazing sports snaps with these essential tips…
It pays to have the right hardware
Having a phone with a real focus (pun intended) on photography will help you achieve better results with less effort. Devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ or Huawei P20 Pro are a good choice, if you’re looking for recent examples.
Of course, it’s absolutely achievable to take a great photo using any current smartphone, but it’s the newest crop that really have things covered when it comes to low-light optimisation, optical image stabilisation, and focus settings. After all, the more lacklustre your hardware, the more time you’ll need to set up the shot.
Reduce shutter speed to freeze the action
Most sports are inherently fast-paced affairs, which makes capturing all the action in detail quite a difficult task, especially if you don’t want that unsightly blurry look. So, what’s needed for crystal clear, freeze-frame shots? Some simple camera setting adjustments.
Unfortunately, both iOS and Android don’t have the option to change the shutter speed of the native camera apps, but there are apps are available that do offer this feature. Here are a couple:
Shutter Speed Free – Slow Camera DSLR Style FX | iOS, FREE
Camera FV-5 Lite | Android, FREE
Changing the shutter speed (sometimes called exposure time) changes how long the shutter of your camera remains open; the longer it’s open, the more light is let in.
To freeze the action, you’ll want a low shutter speed set to around at least one one-thousandths of a second (1/1000s). It’s best to experiment with this, though – some sports are faster than others after all, and finding the perfect shutter speed sweet spot will take practice. But once you’ve mastered this, you’ll be capturing crisp and clear action shots like a pro.
Get close to the action
Positioning is key for taking amazing sports shots. While you might get a TV-like view of the match by sitting right at the top of the stadium, it won’t look so great on your phone, since the camera never captures quite what you can see in real life. The answer’s simple: get as close to the action as possible to improve your shots.
Of course, we’re not suggesting a pitch invasion, more to think carefully about the shot you want, and to get in position to capture it as best you can. Definitely something to consider next time you’re buying your tickets.
Take multiple shots with burst mode
The most frustrating thing in sports photography? Waiting ages for the perfect once-in-a-game/match/race shot only to realise you didn’t quite capture it – and that you probably missed it by a fraction of a second. Hello burst mode!
On both iOS and Android, it’s super-easy to take multiple, continuous shots by simply holding down the camera shutter key. Rather than taking one shot, it’ll capture a flurry of simultaneous shots and stack them all up in your images folder.
All that’s left for you to do is flick through them and find the winning shot.
Crop the right shot
Every professional image you’ve ever seen has had two things happen to them before they’ve been released to the world: 1) Cropping. 2) Adjusting colours (and we’ll cover number two in the next tip)
Regardless of what sport you’re trying to capture, there’s only so much you can do to get as close as possible to the action, and probably very little you can do about the surrounding people or objects. But once you’ve captured the shot, take a long hard look at your photo and let your eyes wander; don’t just look at the main subject.
Is there a person just to the side of the screen yawning? How about that kid with ice-cream all over his face? Or maybe you just think that trash can detracts from the actual action? All good reasons to crop your photos a little, to keep people focused on the main subject.
Employ a little adjustment
You may have spent hours trying to get the perfect pic, only for the skies to turn dark the very moment your team scored a goal. Massively annoying. However, with some tweaks to the image, nobody need know.
Handily, there are some basic image editing tools built right in to most smartphones, where you can add filters to turn a cold-looking day into a warmer one, or make the not-so-green grassy pitch into one that looks freshly grown and vibrant.
In addition, there are literally thousands of apps to download that will help you adjust your photo, here are a couple of great ones:
Just remember: while there’s nothing wrong with modifying your photos (the professionals do it all the time), be sure not to go overboard. The more filters you add to any one photo, the more distorted and unrealistic they often become. So be subtle and adjust wisely!
Ready to get snapping? Don’t forget to share your photos; it’s always nice to see those likes rolling in to justify your hard work.
Looking for a sharpshooter? Check out what the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ can do for your snaps.