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October 21, 2021

Extreme Sports Photography: Tips for Beginners

Have you ever taken an extreme sports picture? Do you know how to choose camera settings or the right angle? We’ve got some useful tips for you.

Have you ever asked a friend to take a picture of you while skateboarding, rock climbing or doing any other extreme sport? If your friend is not a professional sports photographer, you might not have been satisfied with the pictures you got. So where do all these astonishing extreme sports pictures on the internet come from? Is it all about the skills of a photographer or an athlete? To be honest, both.

A beginner cannot perform an impressive stunt, while an amateur photographer can easily miss the right moment. Extreme sports photography is not the easiest genre to start with. Still, if shooting a model in a studio sounds too boring, here are some tips on improving your skills in action sports photography.

Investigate the Sport

Whenever a movement is involved, think about the body position in each phase of it. This may refer to different body parts: shoulders, knees, fingers, etc. If you choose the wrong angle or moment, the posture may look awkward. If you are shooting a rock climber, the finger placement can make them love or hate the photograph.

So, you may become an athlete yourself, which will probably take too long, or start doing your research. Check out websites like Ride BMX or Thrasher. Analyze the photos you find there: the light, the lens that was used, where the photographs were taken, etc. Visualize how you want an athlete to look in your picture before you start shooting. Note what precedes the right moment – that’s how you will not miss it.

Choose Camera Settings According to the Shooting Spot

So, you are ready to give it a go. What is your venue? A skateboarding park, parkour outdoor spot or climbing crag? Plan the photo shoot accordingly; however, the general advice on how to freeze motion in action sports is to use either a high shutter speed or a flash with a small flash duration. Most photographers recommend the first one with the following camera settings if you are shooting outdoors:

  • Shoot in “Shutter Priority” mode.
  • Set the shutter speed to 1/500th of a second or more.
  • In this mode, the camera chooses the ISO and aperture automatically.

If you’re going to shoot indoors, you’ll probably have to use flash.

Remember About the Angles

To add height to the athlete or the object in your photo, the best angle is down low. You have probably seen this technique in a variety of sports magazines. However, you can take as many experiments as you wish. Visualize the trick you want to shoot and assess the surroundings.

If you’re shooting a rider, it can be tempting to get them performing the trick in the air. This looks impressive, but you have probably lost count of the number of such photographs. So look around the spot and try a different angle.

In fact, the angle depends on the sport. The aim is to make the trick and the athlete look powerful. Imagine a rock climber. The strongest guys in sport climbing demonstrate their best skills on an overhanging wall. If you shoot them from the ground, all you get is a butt in the picture, and shooting from above the wall will simply provide a vertical look. The best solution in this case is to fix the rope parallel to the route and shoot from the side at the same height or slightly above.

Get Closer But Be Careful

Extreme sports pictures are not only about the tricks and the background. It’s the emotions that get people hooked up. If you can see the rider’s face, especially their eyes, you get a better picture. At this point, you may consider using a telephoto zoom lens, which is actually not the best idea. What you should do is approach the athlete from the right direction and get incredibly close to the action.

This can be dangerous for both of you, so you should at least follow these basic rules:

  • Be aware of what is going on around you at all times.
  • Warn the athlete and all the people around you what you are going to do – there should be no unexpected movements.
  • Protect yourself – make sure to at least wear a helmet.
  • Wear appropriate clothes – remember you are not doing a wedding photo shoot.
  • Keep your eyes open and prioritize your and the athlete’s health over the equipment or the best photo ever.

Learn From the Best

If you want to develop your skills, follow professional sports photographers on social media and never stop learning from them. Here are the top 3 names you should know:

Kevin Winzeler describes himself as a commercial photographer who inspires activity in a sedentary world. He worked for Adobe Systems, Skiing Magazine, Columbia Sportswear, and many other well-known brands. He is constantly travelling around the world, chasing energy and freedom, and surely he finds them.

Dave Lehl is a famous sports photographer who refuses to share his amazing secret technique. If you don’t have a clue as to what a light-painting sports photo is, check out his website or 500px account. Based in Colorado, he turned snowboarding into a mysterious source of inspiration. That’s why you can find his photographs in Rome Snowboards, Sims Snowboards and Future Snowboarding Magazine.

Lucas Gilman is a professional adventure photographer working for Nat Geo, the New York Times and many other respected magazines. If you ever consider surfers or kayakers as the objects of your extreme sports images, check out Lucas’ works first. You will definitely find a lot to learn from him.

A picture is worth a thousand words. So, you’d better enjoy their action sports photographs at Learn the tricks and find your inspiration.

A New Tool for Sharing Action Sports Photography

Many sports photographers are facing the problem of transferring their huge files to a client, and understandably so. With all the available equipment and photo editing tools, you can get a fantastic picture, but the size of the average photo transfer gets too large. Multiplied by the number of photos in a folder, the amount of data you need to transfer may become huge. So how do you send such a big folder to a client?

Try FileWhopper, a new online file sharing service that has no size limits. It’s very easy to use and absolutely secure. This is why you’ll like it:

  • You only pay for the data you are transferring at this moment — no paid monthly subscription is required. So if you’ve had a photo shoot and you need to transfer your photographs, why would you upload them to the cloud? Send them directly to the client.
  • You can send photos and folders of any size — ANY size indeed. When you use a cloud storage platform, there are often limits on how much you can store and share. With FileWhopper, you have no limits, no matter how large your photos are.
  • Your transfer progress is protected against issues like connection failures or blackouts: your transfer will start from where it left off, meaning you won’t have to start the process all over again.
  • Your transfer is secured with a password, and without it, nobody can access your file or folder.
  • Your client can start downloading your file or folder as soon as you start uploading it. He or she doesn’t have to wait for you to finish the upload. And clients don’t like waiting, do they?

Your first 5GB transfer is absolutely free: head to right now and try it out.

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