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 Photographing Olympic Sports 
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Photographing Olympic Sports
by: New York Institute of Photography

Regardless of whether you are one of the thousands of lucky spectators, camera in hand, at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy or you are rinkside at your local hockey game, here are some tips from the New York Institute of Photography ( to help you take exciting pictures at your favorite winter sports events. According to Chuck DeLaney, Dean of NYI, the world's largest photography school, "These tips will help you get great photos regardless of whether you are at an Olympic ice skating event or photographing your child on the bunny slopes."

If you are photographing an ice-skating event, try to fill the frame with the skater. This may be hard to accomplish with a point-and-shoot digital camera unless it has a good telephoto zoom. Similarly, don't rely on your point-and-shoot digital camera to capture a gyrating skater at the height of a leap. Because of the technical limitations of these cameras, it may simply be impossible to capture a ice skater jumping without using a digital or film SLR.

According to, however, there are some tricks you can use to get good ice-skating photos. First, set your focus in advance by "pre-focusing" on an area of the rink near you so you're prepared to shoot whenever the performer is in your pre-focused zone.

If you are photographing hockey, it's generally best if you don't position yourself behind the goal because most of your pictures will show the goalie's back rather than the action. According to, since hockey action occurs all over the rink, position yourself on the side, but toward one of the goals. And, remember to watch out for reflections in the glass panel separating you from the action. Make sure your camera is set to focus on the action, not on the glass.

When photographing skiers and snowboarders, timing means everything. In order to capture the action on the slopes effectively, suggests that the photographer consult with the subject and learn his or her route in advance. The photographer can then set up the camera before the skier starts th run, in a safe location that also provides a good angle and pre-focus on a mutually-agreed upon spot before the subject whizzes by.

In some cases, however, you may want to convey a sense of motion in your photos of the slopes.

Chuck DeLaney recommends panning with the subject to create this illusion of speed and motion in the image.

“Use a slow shutter speed, say, 1/30th,” he reminds his students and readers, “and follow the subject in your viewfinder as she approaches you, keep her there as you shoot, and keep following her after you shoot. You want to have a smooth motion, like a tennis player swinging and following through with the ball.”

And finally, suggests that you look to take pictures of reaction shots too. Yes, the action during the game may be intense. But many a great picture of tragedy and triumph occurs after the event is over.

You'll find lots of other helpful photography tips on taking sports photos by reading's Photographing Olympic Sports article. You can find it at

About The Author

New York Institute of Photography ( is America's oldest and largest photography school, founded in 1910. NYI offers both film and digital photography distance education courses including The Complete Course in Professional Photography and Digital Photography: The Complete Course which teaches you how to use Adobe Photoshop. Every month publishes free photo tips on their Web site. You can sign up for their monthly newsletter at and receive an email when new photography tips and articles about photography are published.

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Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:00 pm
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