Blurry photos in the gym? Try this.

Photography 101 | February 28, 2016 | By

Camera manual

Gymnasium lighting is not the most conducive to capturing the fast paced action of indoor sports.  Selecting an automatic function on your camera often results in blurry photos at best.  Here are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of getting a sharp shot of the action:

1.  Set your camera to manual (M).
2.  Set your ISO to 800 or higher (likely higher depending on the ambient light in the gym).
3.  Set your shutter speed to ~1/500.
4.  Select a wide aperture (e.g., f/2.8, f/4.0, etc.).

Why will this help?  Capturing indoor sports photos is all about speed.  Setting your camera to manual allows you to override the decisions that your camera is trying to make and to control the photographic trinity – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture- independently.  Your goal is to achieve the fastest possible shutter speed in minimal light.

The ISO setting on your digital camera is equivalent to film speed if you are familiar with the “old school” film camera.  By choosing a higher ISO value you are essentially setting a faster “film” speed which allows you to get away with a faster shutter speed in low light conditions.  The aperture setting controls the amount of light entering your lens.  A lower aperture number actually indicates a larger aperture opening.  In other words, the lower the aperture the more light that enters your camera.  More light entering your camera means that you can select a faster shutter speed and that is exatly what you need to capture the action.

CAVEATS:

1.Image noise (think grain) increases with increasing ISO.  Try to use the lowest ISO possible that will allow a properly exposed image at ~1/500 (to stop the action).  Increasing your aperture will allow for a lower ISO.

2. The larger the aperture (i.e., the smaller the number), the less depth of field.  You will need to be careful with your focus point.

 
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