Photographing High School Sports

Well as you can all tell, by the few and far between nature of my posts lately, that I have been busy.

Mostly I’ve been busy following L to her volleyball matches and taking lots of pictures there. But I’ve also tried to shoot a couple of football games and a tennis match or two.

Photographer Jim Bryant has been helpful, giving me tips on how to improve my sports shots. He does some awesome work, if  you happen to be in the Port Orchard, Washington area look him up! JimBryantPhotography.Com

Thanks for the help Jim! One day I will catch up to you.

Oh, and if you are all wondering what his latest advice is and why my photos don’t look anywhere near as good as his…

It seems I have done all I can do with the equipment on hand. Now I really need to save up for a faster lens. Well that and practice for about 30 more years! and a flash wouldn’t hurt either. 🙂

Here’s a few of my favorite recent sports shots.

Anyone else been shooting high school sports lately?











For some great tips on shooting high school sports see Jim’s post at Digital Photography School!

Secrets To Capturing Nighttime Football at DPS by Jim Bryant


4 thoughts on “Photographing High School Sports”

  1. I apologize for butting in but I think you’re being a little too hard on yourself. Sports photography is probably the most difficult and expensive profession to get involved in. I shot high school and college sports back in the mid 70’s using a Canon F1-N and 70-210 zoom. Expensive for the time but not compared to today’s costs.

    At the high school level there are some less expensive techniques and equipment that can be used with great results. You don’t have to buy a new Canon 7D and 500mm f/2.8 lens to get some very nice shots.

    Rule #1 & #2 for any good sports or wildlife shot are “check your background” and “use the right aperture”. If at all possible, position yourself to capture the action against a clutter free background or if that’s not possible, so the background is a significant distance away from your subject. Use the widest possible aperture (f/4 or 5.6) to achieve a shallow depth of field and throw the background out of focus.

    Rule #1a is to CHEAT. Use a Photoshop plugin like Alien Skin’s Bokeh to blur the background during post capture processing. It makes images from an f/4 lens look like they were shot at f/2.

    Rule #3 for low light indoor sports arenas is to bump up your speed to ISO 400 or 800 so that your shutter speed is high enough to freeze the action. Don’t go too high with Canon’s less expensive DSLRs or you’ll see noise start to creep in your images.

    Rule #4 is to crop your images TIGHT for more impact. Several of your shots above are very nice and all they need is a tighter crop to add some impact. Try cropping in Photoshop Elements with a different aspect ratio (5×7, 8×10, 11×17) rather than use the camera’s default 2×3 ratio. Framing is also important and your subject doesn’t need to be in the middle of the frame.

    Rule #5 is to show motion by setting a lower shutter speed and panning with the action. This works especially well in football and basketball where the motion is generally linear. This has the affect of blurring the background even further and really adds impact to your shots. All it takes is a little practice to master.

  2. Well, I’m kind of late to the party in responding to this post. I am new to WordPress and just did a search for high school sports, finding this post. Yes, I do shoot high school sports and love it. I shoot mostly for the local high school, especially volleyball so I was very interested in your shots. Most of your photos are quite good actually. The number one improvement I can see to improve your volleyball pictures are to shoot either the other side of the net or from the side to avoid the “back end” shot. You want to get the player’s face in the photo to capture the emotion as well as the action. Take a look at some of my photos over at They are far from perfect, but may give you some ideas.

  3. Thanks Rick! My days of shooting high school sports are pretty much done. My kids are both in college now and far too busy to worry about sports right now. But who knows, maybe I’ll head to a game once in a while just for fun. I checked out your site and you’ve got some awesome shots! Keep it up; I know the kids and parents appreciate all your hard work.

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