Learning to Shoot Sports: The Volleyball Edition

While I have been shooting concerts and events for the past 15 or so years, I've only recently started shooting sporting events. Some things carry over from concert photography into sports photography, such as:

+ Action. In both sporting events and concerts, there's constant movement. You need to stay alert to the action and be ready to shoot in less than a second.

+ Weird lighting. Lighting conditions for sporting events vary from venue to venue and also depend on the time of day and if it is indoors or out. The good thing though, is that unlike concerts, where the lighting is constantly changing, once you've got your camera set for the lighting of a sporting event, it is unlikely to change throughout the game.

+ Timing is everything. Whether you're trying to get the guitarist in mid-jump at a show, or the center spiking the ball in a volleyball game, you've got to time it just right.

I have only shot one volleyball game so far, so I am far from being an expert. With that being said, here are some things I learned from my first game.

1. The action is quick and it is difficult to follow the ball through the camera's viewfinder. I found that I was getting better shots if I sat along the sideline, near the net, and focused my camera on the center person in the front row. This seemed to be where most of the action took place.

2. When there's a crowd of people in the background, such as in the photo above, using the camera's continuous focus feature wasn't much use. I found that the camera tried focusing on the people in the stands instead of the players on the court.

3. I tried shooting from an elevated position, but the perspective just seemed off. I recommend shooting from ground level, if you can.

4. Always get the ball in the photo. Unless you're shooting the reaction/emotion in other people's faces.