Nikon D6 Body   Nikon Pro 180-400mm f/4 lens   Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens

I really don't mind sharing info on how to get good images when photographing sports. The one thing that does irritate me is when I am asked questions while shooting an event.  You can ask, but please wait until a time-out, half time or the action is on the other side of the field/pool/court.

Here are some good things to know and understand when photographing your kids/friends participating in a sport.

  1. Understand how your camera works and what the settings are for. (Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO).

  2. Understand the image formats your camera can record. (RAW, Jpeg, TIFF and the different quality settings of each).

  3. Know the rules of the game - it can help you be prepared to reposition for an upcoming shot.

  4. ALWAYS stay away from the officials, players & coaches during live play.

  5. I find a longer zoom lens effective for outdoor sports, such as lacrosse, football, golf, tennis, soccer, baseball, softball. My favorite lens is a 200-400mm f/4 lens & if I want a 2nd lens, it is usually a 35-70mm f/2.8 for team shots.

  6. Use a fast shutter speed. Usually 1/1000 second and up is required for most outdoor sports. 1/500 second will work for athletes coming at you, such as a runner. For action that is perpendicular to you, 1/1000 second is the minimum to freeze the action.

  7. Select an appropriate aperture (also known as f-stop). I mostly use f/3.5 on my smaller lens & f/4.0 - f/5.6 on my 200-400 zoom, depending on the situation. The larger the number, the more that will be in focus. The smaller number will make your subject more the center of attention, as the surrounding area (and players) will be out of focus. So if you are doing a team shot with 3 rows of athletes, it would be best to choose a larger aperture such as f/8.0 or f/11 to get all three rows sharp.

  8. Choosing an ISO setting.... I let the lighting conditions determine this setting. The lower the ISO, the cleaner the images will be.  On a bright sunny day, ISO 200-400 should work. On cloudy days or under stadium lights, that would be pushed to a higher number, such as ISO 1600.  Watch your shutter speed and aperture to determine the ISO.

  9. This should get you started. Go out and practice. The more you shoot, the better you will become.