Top tips for rugby match photography

Success can depend on fractions of a second. To capture an award-winning photograph of a rugby match, you need to master the tricks of the trade.

If you’re a sports photographer, you’ll love these six tips for capturing the best moments of a rugby match despite the fast-paced action. And if you’re not a pro yet, but this is the career you envision, you’ll still benefit from learning these tricks.

1. planning and preparation

It goes without saying that knowledge of rugby as a sport is essential to success. With this knowledge, you can anticipate what will happen, where a player will go, or where the ball will go. But that’s not enough. In fact, preparation begins long before the photographer arrives at the crime scene.

It’s important to check the news, gather information about the club or individual players, and think about what exciting pictures to take. For example, if a player is about to play their 100th game or score their 100th goal in a game, it could make big news headlines. Therefore, try to carefully choose the shooting position from which you can capture the great moment of this player.

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If you don’t know where to start, just try applying to be a sports photographer. Typically, a team of experienced photographers will provide you with everything you need to get started.

2. Play with perspectives

Don’t always shoot from the same angle, think about what makes your photos unique. Perhaps you could lie down on the ground to find a lower angle, or capture a symmetrical composition of players from somewhere high up. You can usually shoot better on the edge of the field than behind the goal.

You can also experiment with different focal lengths. When using the camera with interchangeable lenses, you can add a telephoto lens to your camera that gets you close to the action, and built-in image stabilization prevents the camera from moving.

3. Set the continuous recording mode

Most of the time you’ll be shooting simple images, but when you’re shooting action-packed sports like rugby or soccer, you should take every opportunity to capture the most dramatic moments. For this reason, most sports photographers shoot in series or choose to shoot in series.

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When shooting continuously, most cameras capture 5-12 frames per second. You can look at the images at the end and choose the one that best captures the moment, such as when the goalkeeper makes a great save.

4. Using auto white balance

Shades and colors can be precisely reproduced thanks to the camera’s automatic white balance. Whether you’re shooting a match during the day or at night, AWB comes in handy because it automatically adjusts to changing light conditions. Thanks to AWB settings, you can concentrate on the composition and wait for key moments.

To turn on auto white balance you will usually find a WB button on the back of the camera or if your camera has a touchscreen panel you will find this option on the LCD screen. You can press this to choose between the different options.

5. Capture JPEG images

Photographers are often instructed to shoot RAW files or use the JPEG + RAW format, but this is often not important in sports photography. Many burst photographers (photojournalists, especially sports and nature photographers) use the JPEG format because they can typically capture more frames per second than with RAW files.

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RAW files are larger and contain more data, and some cameras take longer to clear the camera’s buffer memory. JPEG images are smaller files, which means the camera can write them to the memory card faster, giving you more time to capture the moment. Your camera may also default to JPEG. So if you haven’t changed it yet, you don’t need to do it now.

JPEG images also take continuous bursts of shots—all you have to do is press the shutter button for a second or two. Holding it down for too long fills the buffer memory and slows down the recording speed.

6. Don’t just watch the players

A live game isn’t just about the most exciting moments. Use your camera to scan the crowd for hopeful faces and creative outfits, or take close-ups of players’ focused faces or arms before the game.

Good tips right? Which was your favourite?

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