Sunday, February 19, 2012

tips for basketball photography

Now that basketball season is over for us, I wanted to share with you what I've learned over the past couple years photographing Mason's games.




Taking photos in gyms is a challenge because the light is rarely good. Not only is there a lack of quantity of light, but the quality of light is awful too. Setting a custom white balance would be a good idea. But I usually just use auto white balance and correct in photoshop. Clearly, not the best method. I'm going to try to remember to bring that grey card to the games next year!


I use my 85mm 1.8 lens for basketball. Since I have a full frame camera, the 50mm would be very close to this focal length on a crop sensor camera. If you have a 50mm with a wide maximum aperture of either 1.4 or 1.8, that would be a good choice. I keep the auto focus point in the center. I don't have time for creative composition or focus and recompose so I just follow the ball and frame the shots so that the player with the ball is in the center. I shoot in ai servo mode which follows movement for focus. I do have the drive set to continuous, but I try to just take one shot at a time at the right moment... just because I don't want a ton of shots to have to upload. :)




With the 85mm I have to crop in camera a little sometimes, but I'd rather do that than use a zoom with a 2.8 maximum aperture. That would require an even higher iso.


I shoot in aperture priority mode. I set my aperture as wide as it will go and then I set my iso to the lowest setting possible that will still give me a shutter speed of at least 1/200. A faster shutter speed would be better, but the gym I shoot in is pretty dark so I'm already at iso 2000 and I don't like to go much higher unless I have to.


I stand near the corner of the court and I shoot mostly vertical shots. My favorite shots are those that include the player, the ball and the goal.




I sometimes shoot horizontally if I decide to shoot the action at the opposite side of the court. Oh and my other favorite shots are the ones that include Mason! He didn't get too much playing time this year, but I was very proud of him for getting asked to play up on the high school team as an 8th grader. He loved it.



I'm no expert at sports photography, but this is how I do it. Maybe there are ways to get better results? I will keep studying and practicing and of course I'll share if I figure out a better way!

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25 comments:

  1. Oh thank you so much for sharing your info. No wonder I have not been getting the shots I want at the gymnastic meets. I will definitely try your suggestions. I have a 50mm 1.4 and a 105mm 2.8. I will take both next time. Thanks again, and I love your shots, so clear & crisp!!

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  2. Wow, you've got it all figured out! Go Mason! I thought he was in high school!!

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  3. Thanks for all of the great pointers and your shots turned out great!!

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  4. I wish I was 'no expert like you' :) these are fantastic - I can't even get a great photo of someone sitting still . . .

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  5. Sounds about the same as to how I go about it, trial and error learning, for sure. My photos have gained in quality over the MANY games that I've shot this season {both older boys playing and little man just starting out}. The only difference for me is that I do not Photoshop them. I'll peek through for quick edits and pop them into my gallery for sharing with the other parents. There are way too many for me, to play with in PSE.

    I use my "basic" 55-250 lens for the majority of them. Some day I'll be able to afford better quality but for now, I work with what I have ;)

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  6. Great tips! My husband is a basketball coach and I have two boys (2.5 and 6 months) so there is a pretty good chance that I will be on the sidelines taking pictures in future years. :)

    Awesome photos!

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  7. Thanks for your post...this year I will become a soccer MUM so I will be taking you tips as I try to master soccer photos :)

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  8. Great tips and great photos to go along with them. So much of the image is in focus with the lens wide open aswell Deb - you've got that focus nailed for sure!

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  9. Love your tips, I find basketball hard to ship and appreicate your posting.

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  10. i do love my 24-120 mm lens for sports, especially indoors even though it has a 3.5 AP.. I often find tis to be a great compromise to switching lens....

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  11. These are really great. Thanks for sharing your tips. :) T-ball season is coming for Dustyn at leas that is outside though.

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  12. I agree with your method, but instead of a grey card, I cheat and bring a plain piece of white typing paper. I put it flat on the floor or the bleacher in the light of the gym and shoot it full frame so only white is showing. Then you can set the custom white balance by designating that as the white! It works for me! Nice work!

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  13. thanks for those tips! I so enjoy learning how others make their shots!

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  14. Yeah, inside shots are so tricky, but yours are awesome! I have tried my 50mm 1.8 but I do think your 85mm lens looks great because it compresses the image a bit more. I don't have the full sensor camera though...I am going to have to do custom white balance next year, as I can never get the lighting quite right.

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  15. These are fantastic shots! Your right in saying the lighting is tricky in the gym. I've taken some shots at my kids school games and it certainly isn't easy work!

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  16. FanTastic post! My daughter is in competitive cheer and I’ve struggled with this as well. Your pictures came out waaay better than mine, that’s for sure.

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  17. I need an 85mm lens! Oh and these are great. I really like that first one and the jump shot, shot! ha! All the action is great! :)

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  18. Perfect timing! My son's basketball season starts this week. Great pointers.

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  19. The colors and focus are outstanding. Great job!

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  20. great tips deb! I hate shooting at our school as the qym lights turn everyone green. very green. SO not pretty deb.

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  21. These are fantastic, Deb! Sports photography is not easy, but you did awesome!

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  22. Fab results.
    I am not ready for activity shots and am very impressed with yours.

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  23. This is an interesting post. I am always looking to improve my gymnastics shoots. I will try your tips. Great shots.

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