“Freezing the Action” – Sports Photography using High ISO

Shooting sports, whether it’s the Olympics or your children’s soccer game, is a great way to practice capturing the peak of the moment.  With the groundbreaking high ISO capabilities of the new digital cameras out there, shooting sports has never been easier or more exciting.   The trick to getting great sports images is knowing how fast a shutter speed you need to stop the action.  I suggest starting at 1/2000 sec, reviewing your image and zooming in to check focus and any movement in the image and adjusting from there.   I had the pleasure of shooting this windsurfer launching out of the water at f/5.6 at 1/8000 sec, 800 ISO, all while keeping the horizon line in mind, focus tracking and recording a sequence of razor sharp images while my titanium shutter purred along 10fps on my D4.  Capturing fast action can be exhilarating!

High ISO capabilities can be a great tool for all types of photography.  It allows you to not only shoot faster but also control light in ways never before possible.  At 1000 ISO a flashlight or your camera flash becomes 10 times as powerful as it was at 100 ISO.  Therefore you can have a lot more fun with mixed lighting. When the Nikon D4 camera was first released, I had the pleasure of testing it first. With its incredibly high ISO capabilities, I was excited to see how the camera would handle in low light and sports settings.  After discovering I could get great results at a remarkable 12,800 ISO, I shot a series of star images with the Haleakala volcano in the foreground.  During my exposure a car in the parking lot turned on its parking lights and magically illuminated the volcanic rock bright red in this 10 second exposure.  Those parking lights at 12,800 ISO became a powerful light source – now image the possibilities and how that can affect our photographic perspective.

At this past winter Olympics I used high ISO, especially indoors to freeze the action.  I was even able to shoot at 8000ISO to capture stunning images with very little grain that look amazing at 24×36 inches and larger.  To stop the action of a sport like that of bobsled you have to push the limits.  High ISO capabilities of most new cameras allow you to do just that!  Play with your settings, test out High ISO Noise Reduction and the settings that work best for your camera and see what utilizing HIGHER ISO settings for your sports photography can do for you.

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