When 50mm is the furthest you can reach…

Mention sports photography and many people will instantly think of super telephoto lenses of very long focal lengths. That’s not surprising considering the amount of 1 meter long lenses you see at the sidelines of a soccer match. I myself was very into this idea but I eventually learned that it all depends on what game you’re shooting.

I covered the Interhall Games (IHG) Sepak Takraw (yes, we play that over here in NUS) semis and finals game in early January. It was an indoor game which means it has relatively poor lighting. I don’t know the specifications of the takraw court size but its around the same as badminton which means I can be relatively close to the action. Decision: use my Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8.

I don’t really have any action shots of the game to show since most of them are not suitable for consumption on the Internet. Zoomed all the way to 50mm and wide open at f/2.8, the Sigma is definitely not the sharpest lens in the box. Without a strong zoom lens it seems that my game coverage is over and I’m doomed to upload soft photos of sub-par quality. Well, think again. Here’s a few suggestions on what’s good to shoot with a wide angle lens.

1. Shoot the team whoosh. I’m not sure if its called a whoosh but it’s like a final call to arms, all for one and one for all, that kinda thing. Anyway, what I like to do is to raise my camera as high as I can and aim it downwards at the team. Liveview will help a lot but otherwise it’s just a shoot and hope kinda thing. Since I was using a Canon 400D, I belonged in the latter category. I used the onboard flash and a slow shutter speed for this shot. The sudden burst of light froze the faces and raw emotions of the players while the slow shutter provided the creative blur of motion I wanted.

2. Shoot the fans. With a camera of course. Emotions can go rather high during a game and capturing the essense of raw emotions on a fans’ face can lead to great shots. Unfortunately I did not have any such shots during this particular game šŸ˜¦

3. Shoot the post-game-exchange-of-respects. Sorry lah but I really cannot think of the word for this thing šŸ˜› Anyway it’s a good show of sportsmanship. I particularly like this shot because it highlights the level of sportsmanship between both teams and it also shows who won the game with the players in yellow celebrating (which is unfortunately not my team).

The above can actually be summarized into one single point. Shoot when the game is not playing. Because that is the time when you have full authority to walk wherever you wish. The disadvantages of having a soft 50mm is no longer there. Come to think of it, I should have used my hall’s Canon 50mm f/1.8 prime instead. D’oh!

If you have followed this extremely lengthy article of me talking cock about sports photography, I salute and thank you. Up next, virgin photos of my new baby!

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