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Shooting high school football

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

It’s the middle of September and fall will soon be in full swing. For football fans this means cement bleachers and 6,400 square yards of beautiful green grass. YES… it’s high school football season. This means awesome sports photography!

The photos in this article were taken with Nikon D3400 & D7200. If you are photographing with a reliable DSLR, it is possible to get great shots at this level with a few pieces of equipment. As with any sporting event, you are going to want a mix of wide-angle and zoom images. After some time shooting sports photos, I was mesmerized by the 400mm you see on the NFL fields, prompting me to purchase an expensive 200-500mm. I discovered I was able to shoot and edit creatively enough to get a variety of necessary focal lengths without the cost of the massive and HEAVY lens. Sending me back to my trusted 70-300mm f 4.5-6.3 along with my second18-140mm f3.5-5.6 lens for close shots. With these two lenses I am able to get everything cropped properly in the camera, without having to rely on destructive post production.

As with any photo shoot, there is not necessarily a “right” or “wrong” exposure. But this is a sport, often shot in difficult light. The shutter speed controls exposure, the faster your shutter speed, the better your chances of freezing the action. I generally start with a shutter speed of 1/500 and adjust my aperture and ISO accordingly until I get the look I want. Since this is an outdoor sport, your lighting is going to be changing over the course of the game. What starts out with great natural light before the sun went down is going to finish in the dark under less-than-ideal stadium lights. That may mean slowing down your shutter speed to let in more light, along with opening up your aperture or raising your ISO. This is going to take some practice. Be prepared for LOTS of trial and error.

Any photographer will tell you that photographing sports is not easy, and football may be one of the hardest. With a little practice and preparation, you’ll see your images start to improve quickly and steadily.

As with any type of shoot, make sure you have all the necessary backups. Batteries, memory cards, etc.

And remember the number one rule is have FUN and enjoy sharing these amazing memories with the players and their families.

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