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HOW TO MAKE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS OF SWIMMERS

Sports photography requires skill and time and belongs to a very technical genre. Swimming is a spectacular sport. It has a lot of movement, beautiful bodies of athletes, smooth surface of the pool or splashes of water, a lot of shiny surfaces. Taking pictures of swimmers is not easy, but this practice is of great importance for your professional development as a sports photographer.

How to take professional photos of swimmers

We offer you some tips that will help to photograph sports swimming competitions at a higher level for yourself.

Use the camera at high speed burst shooting

You can take pictures of swimmers using any camera or mobile phone. However, if you want to take photos that look professional, you will need special equipment.

In sports swimming there is a rapid movement of people, splashing water, etc., therefore, the speed of shooting the camera is very important. The higher the burst speed, the greater the likelihood that you can capture the peak of sports action in the right quality.

How to take professional photos of swimmers

A camera with a speed of 12 shots per second will give better results than a camera with a speed of 3 per second. The number of frames is limited by the size of the camera’s memory buffer and the format of the photos themselves. RAW files – more. Buffer fills faster when shooting in RAW format compared to JPEG. For example, a camera can take 20 RAW photos in a row and 200 JPEG. Make sure that you have a fast memory card in your camera that will manage to record files from photos during serial shooting.

Professional sports photographers also prefer to use cameras with fast autofocus. The faster the autofocus, the less likely you are to miss an interesting moment.

How to take professional photos of swimmers

Use fast shutter speed

If you want to “freeze” an action, the shutter speed should be between 1/500 s and 1/2000 s. The faster your subject moves, the higher the shutter speed should be. For swimming, you can choose a relatively slow shutter speed of this range.

To take a close-up shot, you need a telephoto lens

You, as a photographer, will be far enough away from the place of sports action, therefore a telephoto lens will not interfere with the arsenal. If you don’t have a good telephoto lens, take a look at the 70-200 mm f / 2.8. This lens not only works well for most sports, but is also a great general-purpose telephoto lens. This focal length is suitable for almost any sport where the action is not too far. For greater reach, you can add a 1.4x teleconverter to get an effective 100-280 mm f / 4.

The best focus mode for sports photography is AI Servo / AF-C mode. Photographers often call this continuous focus. This mode is useful for shooting a moving subject, for example, at a marathon or any other sporting event. When this mode is enabled, the lens will automatically refocus each time the distance between the camera and the subject changes.
But be careful – in this mode, you can take a picture at a time when the lens has not had time to focus, or could not focus. And if any other object appears between the camera and your subject, the lens may refocus on it. This mode is also called tracking autofocus. There is no focus lock in it, you need to keep this in mind.
But in general, if you need to photograph any fast-moving objects, AI Servo / AF-C mode is the best option for setting up the camera.

How to take professional photos of swimmers

There is also a focus mode AI Focus / AF-A which is a mixture of single-shot mode with focus lock One Shot / AF-S and AI Servo / AF-C tracking AF mode. In static mode, the camera will work as if it is in One Shot / AF-S mode, which allows you to use the focus lock function. When the camera detects a sharp, fast movement, it automatically switches to AI Servo / AF-C tracking AF and tracks the subject. This mode is very convenient when you shoot stationary objects that can suddenly begin to move without special notice, for example, when an athlete jumps into the water.

Choose a focus point depending on the composition. Usually the athlete’s face will be at the top of the frame, so choose the focus point as well.

How to take professional photos of swimmers

Read about a swimming event to know what to expect.

Get ready for the shoot, read in advance about the athletes and the competition plan. The better you know the subject, the better your photographs will be.

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