Steve Wiens Photo

Shooting Football
June 10, 2010, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Football | Tags: , ,

When I started this blog I promised an overview of some of my work. Well, I got a little sidetracked. I focused on school and the shoots I needed for assignments so thankfully now I have graduated!

Now that I’m done I have some time to focus on posts for individual sports. The major ones like football, hockey, basketball and possibly even rugby will get their own posts while some of the others that I have shot less may get lumped together… We shall see.

First up – Football. Canadian Football more specifically. This brand of football is one of the most photogenic sports out there and therefore relatively easy and exciting to shoot. In most cases its played at an outdoor stadium meaning that the only time you need to worry about getting enough light is during a night game. Thankfully those are a rarity.

(I just felt I needed to throw this shot into the Football section. It’s probably the best shot of two players reaching for a catch that I’ve got!)

Of course that means you are also at the mercy of the weather – the temperature, rain, snow/hail, and wind can all wreak havoc on you and your equipment. These conditions can also result in some great shots!

The fact that football is outdoors generally makes it easier on the photographer exposure wise. Unless its partly cloudy and the lighting conditions are changing you can set for any exposure you’d like. Generally this would be any shutter speed faster than 1/500th of a second and around f4 to get enough selective focus. Sunlight or overcast skies should allow the use of ISO 100 – 400 easily for these exposures. A telephoto lens at least 200mm long is necessary to reach the shots you’ll be looking for.

Exposure is something you can figure out on your own though. In order to actually get a good shot where should you shoot from? This is the easy answer – ideally from the sidelines.

For most offensive plays you’ll want to stay about 15 to 20 yards ahead of the line of scrimmage to get the standard action shots (catches, runs, most tackles,) and stay low. Lower is better. Of course these rules should be broken when needed. Some shots like the QB sack can’t be had unless you shoot from behind the line. How do you know when that sort of thing is going to happen? Know the sport. Its an important part of sports photography. If you don’t understand what’s going to happen you will miss the best shots. Like this:

I know I’ve shown this shot before but had I not realized that Laurier was backed up against their own goal line I wouldn’t have moved behind them in the endzone for this shot.

Sometimes you manage to catch awkward moments like the one above. In order to get those shots you have to understand Peak Action. Of course, it is what it sounds like – the peak of the action on any given play.

Understanding when these events happen and timing your shot to capture them can be tough to learn but has a much higher success rate than “spraying and prayin,” (putting your camera on drive and firing constantly through the action.) Just because you have 30 shots of one sequence doesn’t mean you have one good one.

Those are the basics: be aware of the weather, understand the game, shoot low from the sidelines 15-20 yards ahead of the play (sometimes,) and like any sport – get the peak action!