Basketball tends to be a difficult sport to shoot because it is played in a gymnasium. Most high school gymnasiums are not well lit, thus it is very difficult to get a shutter speed high enough to capture the action unless you use a very high ISO film (3200).
Shooting soccer is, in many ways, similar to shooting football. A large field makes it frustrating at times but there are also lots of possibilities since lighting is seldom a problem and much of the action tends to take place in four areas. Lighting is not a problem because most games are held during daylight hours. Even slow lenses can be used with great results. The four areas tend to be behind the goal, directly off to the side of the goal, in the corner of the field and on the sidelines shooting towards the large center area.
Volleyball is one of the easier sports to photograph for most scholastic photojournalists if they know the correct shooting positions and have access to the proper lenses. The court size is fairly small compared to playing areas of other sports. Since it is played indoors, however, lighting problems may still occur. Using fast films will help. So will using lenses with large aperture openings (F4, F3.5, F2, etc.). While some photographers may use flash, it can be quite bothersome to players while they’re concentrating on their next move.
Tennis is one of the most interesting sports to shoot but it can become the most frustrating as well if you’re limited in your shooting positions. During matches, photographers are usually not permitted to shoot within the fence unless it is from a court that is not being used. Most student photographers do not have the access professional photographers have at court side; drool over those wonderful Wimbledon and U.S. Open photos in Sports Illustrated but be realistic about what you can capture based on your access to the court while a match is underway.
Most of the action takes place at known points-the bases and the batter’s box-but distances are great, and a 300mm or 400mm telephoto is usually necessary. Flood-lit games at night are common, and call for high-speed film and ideally, a wide-maximum aperture. One of the classic baseball shots is of a player sliding into a base in a cloud of dust. This is best caught with a ground-level position. Pre-focusing on the base may help.
As a field team sport, football’s action can range over a considerable area, so shooting opportunities are difficult to predict. Most of the important action is likely to be concentrated close to either end. Goals and touchdowns are important for professional photographers, but a photographer shooting for his own pleasure may find more opportunities from a midfield touchline position. Less important and “friendly” games give more open access to photographers. As the distance from the action is unpredictable and varies, a zoom lens (such as 80 to 200mm) can be useful, or else a combination of two cameras, one with a medium telephoto (such as 100mm or 150mm), the other with a medium-to-long telephoto (300mm to 400mm).
Sports shots typically need a ball in the picture. By shooting 50 images at the game, I had four or five hitters with the ball close to the bat. Shoot a lot. Give yourself some choices in editing and you will not be drawn to the edge of an ethical cliff.
Yearbook photographers have the opportunity to go to a game, try their hand at it, see what they got on the negative or memory card, and then go out and try again – all for the same yearbook spread that is awaiting five to seven nice moments of baseball action. Working hard at pursuing a variety of great baseball shots can provide staff designers with some visual variety.