We'd love to put photos of your kids up on the website so granny in Britain can see. Here are a few tips to help you become sports photographer extrodinaire.
- Beg steal or borrow an DSLR (digital single lens reflex). It is very hard to get action shots with the wee point and shoot cameras. They simply lack the speed and longer lenses. If you are keen on getting good photos you will get frustrated pretty quickly. If you can't get one, the pointers below still apply.
- Get into position. Photos of your child's back are...well...boring! You need to position yourself so they are going to be running towards you. A good spot is on the opposition goal line. Be aware that the rules of soccer state that you are not allowed within 5 metres of either goal mouth.
- Sit or kneel down. Photos where the action seems to be falling out of the photo onto you are much more dramatic. You acheive this by being lower than the player's shoulders. I take a small rubber pad to sit on so I can stay in position for some time.
- Extend your lens as much as possible, and take shots from a long way off. By having a long lens (or zoom lens on its longest setting) you "compress the perspective". This means that eveything gets squeezed together making it feel much more intense - players that are some distance behind the action appear as if they are right in it. To get good photos with a long lens you probably need to adjust the ISO setting up so that you shoot the photos at a faster speed and avoid camera shake - using a monopod or tripod with the legs together and the head loosened allows you to track the action without camera shake..
- Shoot lots - but try to pick moments when all the elements have come together - shots without a ball lack "context". Shots with only one player in lack the drama of kids racing each other for a ball. Don't expect every shot to be a winner. Try to get 3 good shots out of a couple of hundred - digital photography is great for that - you can just blast away and there is no cost to finding out which are good. Don't expect to go to one game and get fantastic shots. The first few games maybe mostly rubbish but after that most shots are usable and some of them quite good! Practice makes ... better. You could decide to watch one half of the game and photograph the other for several games.
- Crop harshly. Use your photo imagining software to get rid of unwanted parts of the photo but make sure you leave some space for the action to "move into". Photos with the ball hard up against the edge feel awkward. The tighter you hone in on the action the more exciting the photo will be. Try to put important elements of the photo, like the ball, on lines that run 1/3rd of the way through the photo.