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Tips for keeping the focus on athletes in your sports photos

In the world of sports photography, you have mere fractions of a second to capture the perfect frame. For this reason alone, it’s important that you know ahead of time exactly what it is you do and don’t want to capture when you press the shutter.

One of the biggest mistakes that can make for subpar sports photos is not paying enough attention to your environment. Whether you’re shooting a baseball game outdoors or hockey game in an arena, you’re going to have a lot of possible distractions in terms of advertisements and bright LED screens.

To help show you how to keep the focus on the subject, Adorama TV teamed up with photographer David Bergman to create this two-minute tip.

In the video, Bergman explains a few of the key things to keep in mind so that you don’t end up with distracting elements in either the foreground or background of your photos.

The example he first provides is that of the net. In baseball, be it major or minor leagues, you will always see a net behind home plate. This net usually extends to the dugout and is designed to protect fans from flying foul balls and mishandled bats.

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But they come at a cost to photographers if not approached with consideration. Specifically, he breaks down how to best shoot through a net if you have to during a game. To do this, keep your aperture wide open — at around f/2.8 to f/4 — and get as close as physically possible to the netting. By doing this, the sensor won’t pick up on the net, as it’s far outside of the desired depth of field.

It’s not just things in front of you though. Bergman also walks through how important it is to keep in mind the background of your images. Advertisements are everywhere, in almost every sport, so make sure to keep the focus on the athletes. The last thing you want is a game-winning catch to be overwhelmed by the bright red advertisement behind the center fielder.

Keep in mind these tips next time you’re out shooting and it should save you some pain down the road.