Location, Location, Location . . . and Timing

Natalie goes in for a layup.

Location isn’t only important when it comes to selling real estate. Where you shoot from can make or break your youth sports photos.

Take the pic above . . . please! I was too far behind the basket during a recent high school girls’ varsity basketball game to capture the face of the player going in for the layup. For the most part, you want to see the face and the ball. Natalie might have made the shot, but I blew the photo.

A better shot of Natalie

This pic is so much better! I was off enough to the side to capture all of Natalie’s intensity and concentration as she went in for a layup. And I timed it so the ball still was in her hand.

Our opponent shoots a three-pointer.

I’m lucky that our high school’s varsity volleyball and basketball teams play most of their games in a fieldhouse with a walkway above the action. It gives me a great view. But when I’m shooting in our gyms, I go to the top of the bleachers and stand, so no one blocks my lens. Sometimes I’ll shoot from the floor, too.

Something is missing!

Another important aspect of action photography is timing. Even though digital SLRs have virtually no shutter lag, you still have to be fast on the trigger to get the shot you want. In the above photo, one very-important element is missing, rendering the pic useless: The ball. All the players are looking at it, though!

Somewhat better!

This time I got the ball on Heather’s fingertips. If only I was shooting on the other side of the bleachers, so we could see her face!

Should’ve snapped sooner!

Even when the ball is in the shot, you still want to have good timing on where that ball is in relation to the player. The above photo would look better if the basketball was closer to Nicole’s hands.

Natalie shoots a free throw.

Like in this photo! To capture the ball in close proximity to the shooter’s hands, you need to click your shutter just as she’s starting to shoot. This is where burst mode is your friend. Hold down the shutter button and click off several photos in a row. You’re bound to get one with the ball in the right place.

At your child’s next game, try standing in different locations and concentrate on your timing. Appreciate that the season is long, so you can experiment and eventually nail down your best settings.

Now go out and shoot like a pro!

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