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Switched at the US Open: 5 Tips to Improve Your Sports Photos

We braved packed subways and hordes of polo shirts, ankle-length white tube socks and visors to check out the US Open in New York last week (thanks to Olympus, which invited us to test out a couple of its new digital cameras at the event. Between the matches, we were able to sit down for an interview with Jay Kinghorn, an experienced sports shooter, photography lecturer, and author of 'Perfect Digital Photography.' Read on after the break for five of Jay's tips on improving your action sports photography (and our use of the tips at courtside).

  1. Get as close as you can to the subject, because the closer you are, the more intimate it's going to feel and the more involved in the action the pictures will be.
  2. Move your subject out of the center. Use the autofocus lock [standard on most cameras] by pressing the shutter down halfway, waiting for the green light to come on in the viewfinder, and then moving to one side or the other. That will give you the option for tip three.
  3. Use the rule of thirds. If you divide the frame vertically into thirds and horizontally into thirds, those four intersection points are going to be the most interesting place to put your subject. Obviously if you're getting really close and you're filling the frame, then it's just going to be a full-frame image, but if you're showing the court, or the landscape, then you want to put it in one of those four areas.
  4. Before you go in and start taking pictures, take a few minutes to look at the action and the tempo and the rhythm, because just about every sport or any type of action tends to have some repetitive motion to it. If you can find those areas that the athletes keep coming back to, or the same motions, you're more likely to capture that perfect action-moment-in-time. [For example, if notice a player often rushing the net for a volley after hitting baseline shots, you can aim and focus on the net before he or she gets there in order to give yourself time to compose your photo]
  5. Just keep shooting, looking for that one moment where everything really comes together: the light, the expression, the action, where everything is at its pinnacle. As renowned French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, it's the "decisive moment." [For example, take Tiger Woods at the Masters Golf Tournament: As Tiger approaches the green on 18, photographers take into account the leaderboard, the natural lighting, the form of the crowd, the relation of Woods to the hole on the final putt, and, of course, they also anticipate Woods' iconic fist pumps.]

During a couple of spare hours on the grounds of the Open, we put Jay's tips to use with an Olympus E-520 SLR and several lenses (8mm F3.5 fish eye, 90-250mm F2.8, and 70-300mm F4.0-5.6) and came back with a couple decent shots of the epic match between Sofia Arvidsson and Jelena Jankovic, as well as of a couple other early round matches. Check out the gallery below for more:

Tags: features, how-to, photography, sports, tennis, tips, usopen