Sports Photography : Shooting Swimming With A Canon 1D

Sports Photography : Shooting Swimming With A Canon 1DArguably, the hardest type of sports photography I have done has to be swimming. As a sports photographer, I have been fortunate enough to shoot two swimming galas.

Like all sports photography, the idea is to show the action and a where possible freeze the competing athlete in the shot at just the right moment.

If you think about swimming as a sport, the issues faced when photographing it is that the subject, the swimmer, is very low down and in many cases under the water.

There are lots of moving objects in the shot to factor in, for example, the ropes, other swimmers and the water. No factor in the serious the lack of light, things get pretty tricky.

For this event, I used a with USM lens. The white balance was set manually and then slightly tweaked after in the post production.

In order to achieve the speeds I needed I set ISO 6400 and was shooting with shutter speed of 1/500 for the image showing below;

Sports Photography: Swimming – Sample Picture

Sports Photography : Shooting Swimming With A Canon 1D

Sports Photography: Swimming – Camera Settings

Camera Model Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Shooting Mode Manual Exposure
Tv( Shutter Speed ) 1/500
Av( Aperture Value ) 3.2
ISO Speed 6400
Auto ISO Speed OFF
Lens EF300mm f/2.8L USM
Focal Length 300.0mm

Given the different types of sports photography I do I maintain this was very a tricky sport to shoot.

Depending on the stroke the swimmer was doing would change where I would stand to photograph the action.

It was pointless trying to shoot a swimmer doing the back stroke from poolside, all I got was the back of their head. I needed to be above them in the seating area to get the right view.

With freestyle this was also very difficult. I never managed a good frame as the swimmers spent most of the time under the water.

Breaststroke and the Butterfly were a lot easier as the swimmer comes right towards down the lane, and frequently they come up for air creating the ideal chance to take the photo.

I am fortunate as I use a , so I can shoot very high ISO with little noise in the images to help compensate for the lack of light.

Flash was not an option, and I doubt very much the organiser would be very pleased with me bringing in a strobe light plugged into the mains.
The only was to chase the speed I needed was by increasing the ISO and opening the aperture up.

After shooting a few frames I settled on shutter speed of 1/500 then made the adjustments to my ISO to keep the camera shooting at the speed, I wanted to achieve the desired results.

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