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How to photograph the Olympics

How to photograph the Olympics

Piers Photography explains how to take better pictures

The Olympics in London has provided many opportunities for us all to get closer to sport than we have for many years. It has given an inspiration to the nation as our athletes all put huge amounts of efforts into striving for that all important gold. However the effort is no less to get silver, bronze or taking part. For my part I am immensely proud of what the country has achieved in putting on these games and the success and effort we have seen from the role models who are our Athletes, Volunteers, Police and Military.

If you have the opportunity make sure that you go to the Olympic Park, it is an amazing place, full of wild flowers, ionic buildings and amazing happy people. As an event and portrait photographer I was in my element.

Now you have seen the Olympic Park and you have your ticket, how do you take good pictures of the sport you are going to see?

Well one way might be to train as a photographer buy expensive cameras and get press accreditation but I am assuming you do not have the time for this!

I was lucky enough to be invited to see Handball, a very fast new sport to the UK which was played in the Copper Box, a 7500 seater auditorium. The noise and colours were fantastic and the action on the pitch very fast and very physical.

So what should you consider if you want to take pictures of the action:

  • The light
  • Keeping the camera steady
  • What to focus on
  • When to take the picture
  • Tell the story

Setting up the camera

Before you leave home make sure that your cameras battery is fully charged as you do not want this to run out during the day. Its worth remembering not to check too many of your pictures as this will run your battery down more quickly.

Set your camera in sports mode if you have one or A mode with the smallest aperture that you have. This will be shown as a number like 2.8, 3.5, 4, 5.6 etc pick the smallest one this will let the most amount of light into your camera. by doing this you will increase the speed of the shutter which will allow you to take pictures which freeze the action.

You also need to set your ISO to at least 800 if not 1600 as this will also help. Make sure that you turn the flash off as this will not help inside a stadium and it will annoy other people.

Also make sure that you have set your camera to take the largest pictures possible, this will allow you to crop them them if you want and not lose details. By setting your camera for large pictures you may need spare memory cards so make sure you take these as well.

Taking the pictures

Now you are set up, look at the game and see how it is played and where good shots may come from. Take some pictures to show the whole pitch and the crowd (tell the Story)

Then make sure that you are sitting or standing still and keep the camera still and focus on the pitch area (ie the floor) where the action happens and wait to see if you can capture the sport. You will find that the areas outside the goal in handball are the best but this will differ from sport to sport. As you now have the camera set for the action, which in handball goes from end to end.

You will need to press the shutter before the action on a number of point and shot cameras as the delay will mean that you miss the shot so you must learn to anticipate the action.

Hopefully all these tips will help you get some better pictures when you get to the Olympics if you want to know anything else you can contact me through my website I trust that you will enjoy the Olympics as much as I did.

Come on GB!!


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