Developing Soccer Technique

As with most photographers, I find myself getting involved at family events and capturing the moments with my camera.  This was certainly true over the Easter weekend as my step-daughter was playing in a soccer tournament.  I attended a number of the games and brought along my camera to try and capture some of the action.  My only telephoto lens is a Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 and fitted to my Nikon D80 it is a 75 – 225mm in 35mm speak; a decent lens for sports, but not ideal.  Because of the lack of focal length, I found myself running up and down the side of the field trying to anticipate where to get the best shot.  Even at the under 15 level, these girls are pretty good and the pace is fast and furious!

There is no time to set the camera up on the tripod like I am accustomed to when making landscape images.  No long contemplative introspection about composition, focusing attention, lines and proportion.  It’s just happening – Bang! Bang! Bang!  I have found that I am developing a technique where I keep one eye on the main action and the other scanning the edges of the frame to make sure I have everything I want and not too much of what I dont.  This information feeds to the hand on the zoom ring which I use to keep things just so.  However, the two eyes I’m referring to are really just one.  It is one of the really amazing things about the human brain. My one eye, looking through the viewfinder is doing double duty – tracking the action and scanning the edges of the frame at the same time. Really, it could be any brain, but humans are my point of reference. I don’t have experience with other brains 🙂

A great header towards the goal

A great header towards the goal

The great thing about a tournament weekend is being able to review your shots in the evening, critique your work, and then go out the next day and try again.  This really helps to hone that two-eyes-in-one feature.  You get tuned into the errors of previous days and scan the viewfinder to make sure you are not repeating past mistakes. Scan, click! Scan, click! Scan, click!  I don’t generally use the motor drive feature on the D80 as I find it a bit too slow to be useful.  I would rather try to anticipate the action and time the shot.  Putting it all together it becomes Scan, anticipate, bang, click!

The following Monday, my partner and I were walking our dog through some forest near our home.  I had my camera with me, still fitted with the trusty Sigma 50-150.  There is a stream that runs beside the path and down by the banks were some ducks, pigeons, and flickers.  I tried to close in to capture an image or two, but I was a little noisy and the birds a little skittish.  I imagine having the dog around did not help!  Anyway, I felt like I was at the soccer field again. Scan, anticipate, bang, click!  This is what I am learning at the moment – how transferable some skills are between photographic genres.

How did the soccer turn out?  Second place and some mighty fine foot work!