Sports photography: Great fun, great challenge

I love the Olympics. It’s the best time to view water polo and women’s sports. I marvel at the myriad body shapes and talents. I love the history of the events. I am an Olympics nerd, and this time every four years I watch a LOT of TV.

The beautiful HD video that streams into our homes every day masks the difficulty that is sports photography. Sports photography is the most challenging type of photography I’ve encountered. Subjects move quickly, and you can’t always get very close to them. For indoor events, available light is limited, strange in color, or multi-colored. The subject can approach quickly making depth-of-field an issue. My favorite sports, water sports, have a couple extra layers of difficulty: the camera dislikes water, and half the game happens under it. I’m still not as good at sports photography as I’d like to be.

Below are a few of my favorite sports images from over the years. Some are very old and maybe not as good as newer ones, but I remember the feeling I got capturing them. I remember how I fought for good images with my low-ISO camera and my poor-quality zoom. I spent hours in post-processing working to get what I could.

If you’re interested in sports photography, college events are great practice grounds. You can often get closer than at pro events and catch unusual sports too. Be aware of the camera policies in place, however. When I moved to Virginia, I was dismayed to find that the ACC allows no lenses over 3 inches in length, at least for football. If you can get close to the action, beware for your body and your camera. I developed a great reflex for shielding the camera from splashes during water polo games.

And without further ado, some of my favorite sports images.

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