10 More Tips For Better Softball Photos

10 More Tips For Better Softball Photos

Three years ago I posted ten tips for better softball photos. You can find that post here. As with anything in photography you are always learning. Over the last three years I have learned more as well. Here are ten more tips for good softball photos.

10. Know Your Gear – This is one that I probably should have had on the initial post. You need to know the basics of your gear because you will have to make split second decisions at times when you won’t have time to think about where the button is on your camera. I have all of the basic settings that I use on a regular basis programmed on the back of my camera. Knowing your camera allows you to quickly adjust when a cloud quickly comes over the field putting your players in the shade. One way to really get to know your camera is to use it. The players practice many times before they take the field for the game. You can practice too so that you are ready when game day comes.

9. Know The Team – This one has two parts to it. The first part is that if you can get to know your team you will start to find the routines that they do. It could be the way they do the player intros. It might be the way that they celebrate a win. These little things that they do help you tell the story of the game much better. The second part of this is that when you photograph a team a lot you start to earn their trust. You earn that trust by showing them that you are there to make good photos of them. When you have earned their trust then the real fun begins.

8. Have A Plan, But Expect The Unexpected – I usually head to a game with a theme or idea for the game that I want to accomplish. If it is a game around the 4th of July I want flags and other patriotic things in my photos. If it is senior day then the gallery revolves around that. It is always good to have some sort of a plan when you arrive at the stadium. With that said sports can be messy, and you have to know when the plan needs to change.

7. Warm Up With The Team – I am making photos well before the game starts. In the last post I talked about getting to the game early. This applies here. Softball is a fast sport. The action comes quick. I don’t want the best play to happen in the first innings when I am still getting warmed up. I will make photos of the team in their warm ups if possible to warm myself up as well. Pregame is also a great time to make photos like the one above. In the bullpen I can get above the player and make something interesting.

6. Change Your Angles – One thing that is easy to do is to stay in one spot for a game. I have found myself doing it. You get in a spot and you stay there. To make your gallery look better you can change up your position from time to time. The great thing about a sport like softball is that there is usually time to move to get a better angle. If you anticipate a play at the plate you usually have time to get to a place to make a better photo of the play. When it is early in the season here in the north and it is cold moving around helps get the blood flowing and keep you warm as well.

5. What Fence? – I see people posting all of the time about having to photograph through a fence. If you are changing up your angles you will find a time when a net or a fence is between you and the action. This isn’t the end of the world. Most longer lenses even at f/6.3 will photograph through that fence just fine. If possible find a spot in the fence that is not in direct sunlight and get your lens as close to the fence as you can. The fence will magically disappear and you will have photos from a new spot. As I get older that ball hurts more and more. I find myself below the netting or behind a fence more often than not. My focus is not always on the batter and when I am close to the action I don’t mind a barrier between me and the ball. The photo above was photographed through the netting and you can only really tell in the bokeh.

4. Bring The Viewer Into The Game – When I am photographing an event I am always trying to think of ways to make photos that show off the players. You want to bring the person in the stands down with you onto the field. You have to remember rule number nine though and never do anything that makes the team look bad. You have access that most do not so use it to show what makes the team that you are covering special.

3. Use Continuous Autofocus – I broke this out separately from the gear portion because I feel that it is important. I have talked to people over the years that are having issues with soft focus. As soon as they talk about the player moving towards them I usually know that they are in a single shot focus mode. The camera will focus when you get halfway down on your shutter button and by the time that your finger fully depresses the shutter button they are out of focus. I have bumped my camera pregame before and been in single shot mode and for a second think that my skills have regressed. I quickly realize my error though and fix it. This seems like a small detail, but it will improve your keeper rate dramatically.

2.Think of senior day – A photo like the one above really doesn’t show any player in great detail. It is a special moment from the year though. Thinking of your photos put together in a photo book or on a poster board helps you find the things about the game that help tell the story.

1. The ball does not have to be in every photo – Over the years I have heard countless photographers talk about what makes a good sports photo. One thing that comes up a lot is that the ball has to be in the frame for baseball or softball. I have made plenty of images of players getting ready for the pitch or celebrating a big play when the ball is nowhere near the frame. As with all photography know the rules, and know when to break them.

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