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Part I of this article on taking “Touchdown!” shouting photos at football games discussed some advice on preparation before the game, tips on useful accessories to take to the game, plus suggestions on what features to look for when buying a digital camera to take to sporting events. Part II expands on this advice and mentions a few technical tweaks you should make in order to take great photographs.
6) Take Photos as Fast as Possible
Action in football happens fast. Especially if you’re sitting in the stands, the combination of fast action and hand-holding a digital camera often leads to blurry photos.
* Don’t shoot in RAW mode – use high-quality JPG. You may not notice a difference in picture quality, and shooting in JPG means your digital camera can save photos to memory faster, letting you take follow-up photos quicker.
* Shoot with the fastest possible shutter speed (usually adjustable by a digital camera’s “S” setting) that still results in photos not appearing too dark. If you mostly shoot in automatic mode, experiment by pushing your digital camera a step or two faster than what it recommends.
If you own a digital SLR and are allowed to bring it to the game, a faster lens may help increase the camera’s fastest possible shutter speed. This can add to the camera’s total cost, however.
In conjunction with this:
* Experiment by increasing your ISO sensitivity. Your ISO setting determines how sensitive your digital camera is to light. The higher the ISO (the default is usually 100), the faster you can adjust your shutter speed. However, a higher ISO will add some grain (noise) to your photo. Some prosumer digital cameras can shoot with 200 or even 400 with reasonable results; with a digital SLR you should be able to use an ISO setting of 800 and possibly higher.
7) Glance Over at the Sidelines
Not all of the action in a football game occurs on the field. Glance over at the sidelines once in a while when a team is in the huddle or in other breaks in the action such as TV time-outs. You might notice coaches interacting with their team, emotions running high after a great play or costly mistake, cheerleaders, or mascots, all of which can make interesting photo subjects.
8) Learn the Game and the Team
The more you understand the game of football and the teams playing, the better your compositions should be. You might not memorize every player’s name and a team’s entire playbook, but reading team rosters and scouting report won’t hurt.
Does a team have a pattern of running on first down and then throwing on second? Are they a deep-ball passing team or only using the pass for short yardage situations? Is the quarterback an analytical drop-back passer or likely to run if the pocket begins to collapse? On the defensive side are the players more likely to play zone or man-to-man?
As there are so many players on the field it is virtually impossible to take photos of every big play. By learning about the teams you will increase the likelihood of having your digital camera’s focus on the right player at the right time.
9) Prepare for the Unexpected
This is football and anything can and will happen. Don’t always put your digital camera down during a punting situation as you might miss a fake punt attempt. Fake quarterback spikes aren’t uncommon. Plus, interesting things can occur outside the realm of the actual game. Once at a game I attended at the Louisiana Superdome, the game was briefly halted as a small blimp-shaped balloon drifted onto the field!
Football is an exciting spectacle full of suspense, drama, and the unexpected. With so much going on over a 100-yard field, it is extremely difficult to position your digital camera at the right place and the right time to take great photos. However, with preparation, the right equipment, knowledge of your digital camera’s settings, and a bit of luck, you too can take digital photos at football games that will make your viewers shout “Touchdown!”