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by André Costantini
In sports photography, a sharp telephoto lens is essential. Whether photographing youth or adults, getting close to the action is difficult. For professional photographer André Costantini, the Tamron AF70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro, provides the perfect blend of focal lengths and incredibly fast shooting to use with his Nikon D3.
“The fixed 2.8 aperture allows me to freeze the action using a faster shutter speed,” says Costantini. “Using a wide open aperture also helps to isolate the subject and blur out distractions in the background.”
Photographing indoor sports means utilizing limited available light. Any other source like fill flash or strobes would cause distractions and hinder the athlete’s concentration. Since fluorescent lights are typically what illuminates arenas and gymnastics’ venues, one alternative to compensate for the color temperature is to set the camera to fluorescent. Another option is to manually set the White Balance by pointing the lens at a white or gray object, then pressing the White Balance button.
In Costantini’s series of gymnastic images, he set the White Balance on his camera to auto. He also saved them in RAW format, and then adjusted the White Balance in post edit.
“I definitely save in RAW format under fluorescents and use auto White Balance, but because I was shooting RAW, the White Balance setting didn't even really matter.”
Additionally, he used ISO3200 with 1/320 sec. shutter speed to compensate for the low light. What resulted were sharp, clear images at all focal lengths.
In the photo of the gymnast jumping on the balance beam, Costantini waited patiently for the action to take place, easily capturing the athletic image with the 70-200mm using a focal length of 190mm. Even with ISO3200, the image is crisp and sharp with no noise.
“Sports require a lens that is fast enough to capture the action at the right moment,” says Costantini. “The fast f/2.8 70-200mm Tamron lens is perfect.”
In addition to having the right equipment, Costantini advises photographers to visit the venue prior to any shoot.
“Try to get a feel for the site and how your camera and lens work in that setting.”
Costantini suggests moving around and taking photos during practice or rehearsal prior to an event to experiment with the light, shadows and angles. Composing a shot takes patience in sporting events, but it is an important component to the athlete’s story. Practices can assist in providing creative ideas and nuances to get an interesting photo.
The image of the girl walking the beam with her arms raised shows the determination and focus needed to become a champion. Costantini admits he waits for a peak moment, and then captures it. He used a focal length of 190mm for this shot.
In the final image, Costantini composed the gold medal ceremony photo as the athlete looks to her judges and team mates. He used a focal length of 112mm and positioned the lens at the athlete’s level. In contrast, the photos on the beam were shot pointing the lens slightly upward, with Costantini lowering the camera to emphasize the magnitude of the athletic feat.
For any sporting event, the photographer must feel free to shoot the best images possible. Using a lens like Tamron’s 70-200mm provides the freedom to move around and focus fast as the action happens. The fixed 2.8 aperture is another factor that freezes movement, resulting in sharp photos that isolate the victor.