Fall means soccer and football participation for a lot of area youths. That also means many of you will be trying to photograph your children or favorite players in action on area playing fields. In providing some tips for photographing these activities I’ll have to assume you have a camera with some adjustable exposure controls and interchangeable lenses. If all you own is a point-and-shoot camera with limited controls, my advice could still be beneficial but it may reveal the limitations of your gear.
• Telephoto lenses, preferably 200mm or longer, with large apertures of F2.8 or F4.0 are preferred. With shorter lenses and smaller apertures your star athlete will be an underexposed, pint-sized munchkin at midfield.
• When possible use shutter speeds of 1/500th or faster to stop action. Photograph night games early in the season, and you’ll have some sunlight later in the day.
• A motor drive is helpful. This enables you to take multiple shots in a brief amount of time and increases your chances of capturing peak action.
• If you have to shoot at night, under stadium lights, you’ll probably need to change your shutter speed to 1/250th, your aperture to F2.8 and your ISO to 1600 or 3200 to get acceptable exposures. Always review your images to confirm correct exposures.
• Anticipate action. Position yourself ahead of the offensive line to get action coming toward you. I do the same with defense and then watch for quarterback sacks and backfield fumbles. If all you care about is your child then just keep your camera on them.
• Keying on the quarterback at the start of each play is a good way to keep your eye and camera on the ball and action.
• When a team is within the 20-yard line, position yourself at the back of the end zone to anticipate a score.
• On short yardage plays near the goal line, pre-focus on the line so you’re ready to catch a player jumping or running in for a score.
• This sport also requires telephoto lenses and is more difficult to photograph than football because the direction of action is unpredictable. Position yourself at mid-field near sidelines so you can rotate both ways to follow the action.
• Use similar fast shutter speeds and exposure settings as you would for football.
• You can use a wide-angle lens at the goal and wait for action to come to you and maybe a score. But you could be waiting a long time.
For both football and soccer, a second camera body with a wide-angle lens, is good to have around your shoulder. When action moves toward you, you can use your wide-angle lens to catch players as they pass by. But don’t blame me if you get rolled over by a linebacker twice your size.
— Chief photographer Mike Yoder can be reached at 832-7141.