May I see your best soccer photo?

Discussion in 'Sports' started by jason j, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. Hello, I have been shooting children's soccer games for the past few years. Although I am a rank amateur, parents really enjoy the finished photographs, which has given me the encouragement and feedback that I need to improve. This has also made me wonder about the experiences and expertise of other people who photograph soccer matches. So here are my questions: What ways of photographing soccer games have helped you get great shots and would you please show me your best soccer images? Thanks!
  2. As a poor grad student, I went to a few games with a medium-quality zoom lens and a tripod and came up with what you see in

    I had zero knowledge of the game and no special skills. You can't choose where you stand, since the field itself is off-limits. A digital camera helps since you will be throwing away 95 percent of your photos. A 300mm lens (35mm equivalent; 200mm on small-sensor digital SLRs) is nice to have. A rapidly responding single-lens reflex camera is essential (i.e., no point and shoots!). Set the camera for "continuous" autofocus so that it will track motion. Use shutter priority and set the shutter speed to 1/750th of a second. On a cloudy day this might require an ISO 400 setting on the digital camera or ISO 400 film.

    may be helpful.
  3. I use a Canon 10D with Nikon manual focus lenses. I use the Nikon 400mm f2.8 AIS and Nikon 200mm f2 AI for all of my soccer shots. The best images come from the 400. I actually find the 400 too long on the 1.6x body and the 200 too short. I have often thought of adding a 300/2.8 again or one of those super slow 100-400mm autofocus lenses but I find the light gathering of the f2 and f2.8 primes too necessary, and the optical quality is phenomenal. Why manual focus you ask? At the same price point I'd rather have a 400/2.8 than an autofocus 400/5.6 or 100-400/5.6. Similarly for the same price point I'd rather have a 200/2 than an autofocus 200/2.8. In both cases I can shoot at 100 ISO exclusively given good weather. The 200/2 came in handy for a recent night game and I was still able to shoot at ISO 800. I use the 400/2.8 only on a monopod and I use the 200/2 handheld. This summer I took 1000 shots of my son's team and 1000 shots of my daughter's team. In camera I editted those numbers to half, and once on the computer I reduced it in half again. Going digital this year provided me way more opportunities to get good shots and it showed in my results. Generally I stand behind the opposing goal line with the 400/2.8 and shoot "our" team head on as they come down the field. With the 200/2 I tend to run the lines to capture defensive players at one end and offensive players at the other. I won't show the images of the other children here but here are a couple of my son and daughter.
  4. Another of my son. Sorry they are a bit small but I can never remember what our limitations are here.
  5. Can't leave out my daugther, the sweeper!
  6. Very nice, I like them alot.
  7. Remember that the soccer motto is "Fair Play!" This applies to photographers as well. Traditionally no one (spectators, players, coaches) is allowed behind the goal lines. The international rules used to prescribe a "photographer's line" which kept photographers 6 meters from the back of the goal and 3 meters from the remainder of the goal line. Many leagues maintain similar rules. As your kids get to more competitive levels you will probably run into an "old-school" referee who will dismiss you from the goal lines. If you don't move he will view it as his responsibility to abandon the contest.

    The basis for these rules is the same as not allowing baseball pitchers to have ripped sleeves - it is hard enough to hit a fastball without "noisy" backgrounds.

    So just use common sense. Don't be distracting. Don't use flash.
  8. Jason I have some experience shooting soccer pics, I like to use a longer lens at wide open to isolate the background,one of the problems with kids soccer is cluttered backgrounds. Also remember the ball is crucialto the shot . My ideal lens is an 80-200mm but sometimes I use a 300mm here are a few of my shots regards Steve
  9. Jason, I've been shooting soccer about 5 yrs. I use a nikon d1h or a d100. I use a 80-200 2.8 or a 300 2.8 both nikon lenses.If at all possiable I try to keep the sun at my back it cuts down on post processing. Move around the field If you can. The ends are good if you can catch someone dribbling the ball towards you, and you can get some good headers from that vantage point after the goalie kicks. Try to anticipate the action and shoot as much as you can. Going to try to post a picture hope it comes through. Let me know what you think. Jeff
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  10. Another with a
  11. last one this with a 300mm the better the player the better chance of a dramatic shot I suppose Steve
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  12. Wow, what wonderful replies and images. I learned a great deal. Fortunately, my kids play their games between nine and noon, which means I get lots of light, including golden sidelight in early games and late practices. After reading these post, I'm going to purchase a faster focusing lens or focus manually. Thanks again.
  13. The tongue helps you keep your balance.
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  14. Dear Andrew:

    It is common sense to use common sense.

    Often with kids fields there is a walking path behind the goal line where families traverse during a game since they cram as many fields close together as possible. If I am shooting from the path or beyond then I am no more a distraction than the crowds. I rarely if ever go behind the net itself and if I am my 400/2.8 is taking me a heck of a lot further back than 6 metres/yards to catch action in front of the net. Again with the 400/2.8 behind the goal line beyond the net I often find myself back at least 10 metres. I will encroach closer to the goal line when the action is in front of the downfield net since even at that great distance the 400/2.8 can produce splendid images even when cropped. If referees say anything to me it is about my being nuts to use a lens that heavy, not about where I am standing. If I were asked to move I certainly would obey. If I am using the 200/2 on the sidelines then I am in the designated areas for spectators. I am of course always careful to stay clear of any "emotional" parents from the opposing teams when I am in "their" end. I have even been asked to get pictures of their kids too!

    In the past year I have become more comfortable shooting from anywhere around the pitch keeping more than enough space from players and coaches on the sidelines. The fields are often surrounded by public park land that families are gathered on anyway while they await their game. I simply place myself where I will not be any more of a distraction than them. Again with a 400/2.8 and 1.6x DSLR this is pretty easy to do. Although I pretty much shoot my kids teams only when they are playing into the sun there are times when I want to take advantage of as much light as possible and need to move around the pitch.

    If anyone is at a game wanting to take pictures from behind the goal line or any other area and are unsure of the situation simply ask the referee before the game starts. They are generally quite approachable and quite reasonable. This is not the World Cup yet!
  15. Jason,

    Like some of the other responders, I use manual focus. I have Pentax equipment, and it simply doesn't focus fast enough in auto focus mode, so I lose more shots in auto focus than I do shooting manually. My equipment as of late is an *ist DS with a 100-300 Sigma f/4. It helps to get to know your focusing ring well, but I still forget which way to turn it as the action gets closer sometime (I just need to remember "right is tight" for that lens). Unfortunately, I'm at work, so don't have access to any shots I've taken with that equipment, but below is a link to a shot I took with a digicam at one game. It still cracks me up when I look at. There are two of us who normally shoot at my son's high school games (the other guy is actually a pro photographer), and we both generally position ourselves in one corner of the field for the bulk of the game (generally near the end line of the goal our guys will be shooting at). We both use monopods as well. If nothing else, it's less tiring than holding the big lens all game. I've tried moving around the field, but that doesn't seem to work as well as staying still. The best shots definitely have the ball in the frame, but as with the linked photo, it's not always crucial. It can be very frustrating when you shoot rolls of film or entire memory cards and get very few keepers, but like golf, it's that one great shot that keeps you coming back for more.
  16. John

    I didn't expect such a direct response - I must've sounded more curmudgeonly than I intended (of course, since I AM an old curmudgeon, that is a constant risk :)

    Your plan of action sounds very good. When I "refereed" for kindergartners (somebody has to retrieve the ball when it goes out of bounds) I wouldn't even wince if a parent occassionally darted onto the field to take a snap - a wide-angle shot looking down on the ball is a great view!

    But for older, faster, more aggressive players - if somebody was hugging the goal line (or even a side line) with a 400mm lens I would definitely be concerned that the photographer might get run over and one of "my" kids would clunk himself on the head during the tumult.

    But then I also stopped games to get parents to move back from the sidelines. I made little girls take off their earrings so they wouldn't risk nasty pullouts. And I didn't let the embarrassed kid who lost all his hair during chemo wear a ball cap during the game - the bill might poke somebody else (but I did give him my knit cap to wear - I think he kept it :)

    Checking in with the ref before the game should cure all problems. Since there is a tradition of rules concerning photography, when one gets involved with a traveling team, high school games, or other elite leagues, just be aware that there might be specific rules that should be observed.

  17. Here is a link to my soccer portfolio. I cover 9 teams and shoot thousands of soccer photos each year. The best advise I have is to learn the game. Knowing when something might happen so you can anticipate the shot, really helps. Having fast equipment does help, although, I shoot my pictures a single frame at a time, even with my D2h.
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  18. Here was one this weekend from a real tough llighting situation.
  19. Sorry, meant to crop it
  20. I'm new to shooting sports, but here's one of my youngest son's team in action.

    Lots of nice shots in this thread, along with great suggestions. Thanks!
  21. I'm fairly happy with this shot, he managed to save the goal as well... Goalie Save
  22. I use a rebel xt 70-200 2.8 with 1.4x extender. What is the best manual settings for high school soccer?
  23. Got this one of my son on the soccer field. I made a print when it came time to fundraise and put it up with a caption that said "We need help".
  24. Here's the picture, couldn't get it to go for some reason. While most parents were yelling at their kids to get their heads in the game I was just giggling while taking pictures. Highlight of the season was when my son (who definitely didn't have his head in the game most of the time) scored a goal in the last game. Of course I didn't get that shot, I was too busy cheering.
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  25. I am new to photography, but love the Beautiful Game! There are some amazing shots here; I really enjoy looking at them! I have posted some soccer shots on my blog:
    These are from the past season, and get updated frequently.
  26. A mid-air collision!
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  27. Here's a funny pic of a player getting nutmeged: I love the looks on the faces of the other players.
  28. I shoot fast sports with my Canon 50D, as it is faster than my 5D and the 1.6 CF makes my 100-400mm zoom good for the whole field (aside from the five or so meters right front of me). I know the game pretty well, and I have the timing down to the point where I very rarely use rapidfire. However what I'm struggling with now is where to set the autofocus point. The lens is more than fast enough to focus, at least if I can anticipate important shots even a fraction of a second ahead of time, but especially with the long-distance shots the player frequently moves outside the center focus point and becomes blurred. If I set it on full auto focus so that it uses all autofocus points, then more often than not another player or spectator will creep in peripherally to the shot and blow the focus as well.
    The last couple of games I have chosen the focus point to be the middle bottom point (my 50D has nine the autofocus points), and I try to keep this focused at the subject's feet. This keeps his subject well placed in the frame. What I find is that if I'm little off it will focus on the pitch right near the player, and thus the player will still be in reasonable focus. This works quite well, especially if the lighting is bright and the aperture can be stopped down a bit. However it does take some practice to keep the autofocus point at the player's feet, while still composing the rest of the shot, as it is not in the center of the frame. I have noticed that sometimes in poor lighting, when the aperture is full open, a significant number of the shots have a softly blurred subject. Nevertheless my yield using this method is much better than using the center point as the autofocus point.
    Any other ideas for how to focus more effectively? I have yet to try manually focusing. The game is fast enough (I am photographing girls soccer at the select teenage level, so they are very fast and very good), and I'm zooming in and out enough during the game, that I cannot imagine my yield would be anywhere as good as autofocus. Any suggestions for how to use manual focus, other than the obvious of turning the focus ring?
  29. John,
    Just registered for and jumped to the Sports area and searched soccer... went right to the last page and felt like I was reading a post I would have placed here as well. It seems I too am facing the same challenges as I photograph my daughter’s team.

    I have also switched to a single focal point, however, mine choice was the center. Found that I had to have the accuracy of a sniper or I would inadvertently focus on an object in the background. I really like you idea of using the bottom center focal point and aiming for the feet. I'll have to give this a try.

    Poor lighting has also been a challenge for me as well. I typically shoot with my Canon 50D with the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens set to Aperture Priority and the lowest setting as I have been told this will offer the greatest chance of achieving the best Bokeh effect. Of course when I'm shooting the defensive players across the filed from opposite side, they do end up "soft" from time to time. I really don’t understand why they call it "soft"... heck, it's out of focus as far as I'm concerned... Of course if it's the best the lens can do and there is no other way to sharpen the image, then I suppose its a nicer term than saying you lens just can't focus at that distance with those settings... it's a "soft" image....

    I've been having fun trying to improve my sniper’s aim and I have placed the Auto Focus in the "AI Servo" mode. I use the center focal point aim, try nd track the target, and take my shot. I do end up with a few missed out of focus shots, so I'm looking forward to giving your lower focal point, aim at the feet, technique a try.

    Another issue I have is with lighting as well. I end up having to increase my ISO settings for early morning or overcast days and I end up with grainy shots I have to post process. Is there some kind of setting in the camera that helps with this? All my pictures are in RAW mode. I'm guessing that the noise reduction is only available for JPG, but I have not tried this yet.

    I’m having a blast taking pictures, been doing it now for many years as a parent and team photographer. Getting real good at timing the action shots and I’m no longer depending on burst mode. I’m trying to keep the post processing time down by keeping the photo count down. Typically go home with 500 to 600 shots for a game and end up with 250 to 300 worth keeping. Most rejects are too "soft" or some other player runs in front just as I'm shooting..... I use my EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens for all the games.
    Anyway, thanks for your post, I too await anyone’s suggestions here.
  30. I know this runs contrary to a sports photography forum, but for physical reasons I use the lightest lens possible. I am a quadriplegic with limited hand strength and function, and have a terrible time trying to pick up my camera with a telephoto lens attached. I've been forced to let the action come to me instead of going after it with a 300 mm lens, and have been able to get some decent shots at my niece's soccer games.
    Something that I would like to suggest would be to let the photo breathe. What I mean by that is if you have the option, let the action on the field tell the story about what's going on, let the play develop in the frame. Zooming in tight isn't everything!
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  31. What kind of metering mode do you guys use for shooting running players?
  32. I mostly shoot basketball and often use a remote. When I got the chance to shoot a soccer game, I set up a remote behind the goal and got this shot:
  33. Hi,
    This is not my best shot, but i like the searching look on his face.
    I had to seat about 30-40 meters away among spectators, not easy and convenient to keep on poking them with my 100-400 mm Canon :)
  34. I've just started browsing this forum today, in an effort to get better shots at work, and this is my first post. I've just started shooting collegiate sports for my school, and I'm using my own gear. As of right now the best I have to use is a 70-300 f/4-5.6 on a D80 body. I've made due pretty well, but I'm looking into getting an 80-200 to improve my isolation, since I'm on quite the budget (being a college student.) These pictures were taken today, and are uploaded straight off of my SD, no processing whatsoever. I have experience with processing them afterwards digitally but for now I'm instructed to provide just the images in JPEG as soon as the games are over. I keep the pictures for my own portfolio.
    I'm just getting back into the swing of taking pictures regularly, having had a two year break since last doing serious work so my Rule of Thirds composition is pretty poor, but in part that had to do with trying new autofocus points and fiddling with aperture priority mode today, and me getting used to AF-C.
    Any advice is appreciated!
  35. Watch your backgrounds, unless you are shooting at a wide open (small) aperture, so you don't get junk in the backgrounds on wider shots............
  36. This is one of my favorite pictures of my daughter. She is normally the keeper but that day she was playing defense and I caught her going up for a header. The opposing team photographer was a great guy and offered to let me try out his 100-400mm lens which was a great experience for me, but also why the pic is not super sharp because it was 1. my first time using it and 2. REALLY heavy and my arms were tired my this point (it was handheld). I use a Canon Rebel Xsi, this was shutter priority, 1/640, f/11, ISO 400.
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  37. [​IMG]
    This is an old photo as I haven't done any sports photography in recent years. This is one of my favorite soccer shots. Shoot wide open, see the athletes' faces & crop out the dead space around the action on the final image.
  38. I like this one but I wouldn't give it a "best" title
  39. I have several seasons of soccer photos on my facebook page. If you friend me John Garza, Washington DC you can check out my soccer photos.[​IMG]
  41. After the winner goal.
  42. Scoring the winning goal with a knee.
  43. Left footed kick in kids vs parents game.

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