Home Stretch

Sports Photography Tips For The Final Burst To The Finish Line
On The Home Stretch

Burning pain. Fatigue. The wall. These are all things runners deal with. This is what our young athlete is dealing with. Just when she thinks she can’t go any further the finish line appears on the horizon. However, the more she runs the further away it seems. “Will I ever get there?” she asks herself.

It’s a mental battle now. As she rounds the last corner a surge of adrenaline kicks in. Her head raises allowing more air to fill her aching lungs. Her knees lift higher propelling her svelte frame across the footpath. With arms pumping vigorously she leans into her stride and powers on home. The story continues.

This is where I capture the moment. That turning point in a runner’s journey. When you think there’s nothing left to give you find something. It’s amazing to witness. It reminds me of Daniel Caruso’s come back in the fight against Johnny Lawrence in the Karate Kid. That’s heart. Now here’s some sports photography tips to help you capture that decisive moment.

Sports Photography Tips – Camera Settings


shutter speed priority setting

I had my camera set to shutter speed priority as I wanted to freeze the action. With shutter speed priority the camera figures out the right aperture and ISO setting to use. Check out my guide to understanding exposure in photography to find out how these settings affect exposure. I also kept an eye on my histogram. Here’s why.

The problem with LCD screens is that pictures can appear great. But when you view the photos on your computer you find that they are all dark. Being able to display the histogram is a massive advantage with an electronic view finder (EVF). You can set it to display all sorts of useful data. Think of it like a heads up display in your camera.

One of the best sports photography tips I learned was to use continuous single point autofocus mode.

This gave me much more control on what area would be in focus compared to multi-area focusing. I find the multi-area focusing can be a bit hit and miss. It’s much harder to predict what’s going to be in focus.

Sports Photography Tips - Composition


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I also used some basic composition techniques. The position of the runner falls on the rule of thirds vertical line. Her head is at the top right intersecting point for strong impact. She also has space to move into across the frame.

There is a strong diagonal leading line created by the footpath.

Catching her leaning forward at an angle creates a much more dynamic feel to the portrait. I did get lucky with the pose – knee up and in mid-air. It conveys a massive amount of energy and power. There are other ways to compose a photo too.

Here I’ve kept to the guidelines but you don’t always have to. Find out how breaking them can be just as effective in this article on rules of composition.

If you found these sports photography tips useful then I’ve got one more gift for you. I’ve created a free photography composition resource. It goes into more detail about taking compelling pictures. You can apply the techniques to sports photos, family events and even snap shots.

Simply fill in your name and email address and I’ll send you the download.

Photography Composition Resource

Now it’s time to get ready for the next shoot!

- Keith

Dad, husband, photographer & all-round nice guy 😉

Categories: Photo Fiction.

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