Golf Tips - Photography - Big Swing Photos

By Chuck DeLaney NYI Dean

New York Institute of Photography
Tips for Better Golf Photographs

Pink-clad golfer completing swing on the fairway This is the bread-and-butter shot - the player has completed the follow through of his swing and watches as the ball sails (hopefully) right down the fairway. We see the golfer's form, golf clothes and little else. Unlike a game played on a court or small field, it's nearly impossible to show the player, the trajectory of the ball and the location of the green in one photo.

The lack of a visible ball is a problem. For most sports photography, the first rule is always show the ball in the photo, but that's nearly impossible to do when players are driving off the tee or making iron shots on the fairway, unless you make an image before the ball is hit.


Older couple teeing off This photo shows a more modest approach to a similar situation. Here the ball is visible because the player hasn't hit it yet. Instead, we captured what looks to be the beginning of the player's downward stroke. His partner (we doubt it's a caddy) looking on from the left side of the image adds interest to the photo. This picture makes another point as well - we suspect the photographer used a point-and-shoot camera and had intended to capture the golfer with his club poised at the top of the swing, rather than an instant later when the club head has begun its downward arc.

Point-and-shoot cameras have one major drawback when used for action photos. There is a delay of a second or two from the time the photographer presses the shutter release until the picture is actually recorded on film. That means, if you're out to capture a golf swing (or a diver in mid-air or a runner stealing home) and you wait to press the shutter until you see the peak of the action in your viewfinder, you won't get the shot you wanted.

Smaller shot of older couple golfing Unlike a single lens reflex camera (SLR) where the shutter fires at the instant you push the shutter release, point-and-shoot models need a little time to set the correct focus, analyze the exposure and select the proper shutter speed and aperture. That brief delay is no problem if you're taking a photo of the kids in front of the Grand Canyon, because there is no peak moment. But for sports photos, you run the risk of missing the peak action.

There's no certain formula for overcoming this problem since all point-and-shoot camera models have a different amount of delay. So, if you use a point-and-shoot, get to know your camera and learn to anticipate peak action and press the shutter a second or two before the peak. Sports photography is one area where single lens reflex cameras have a distinct edge over point-and-shoot models, so if you're really interested in action photography, you should consider using an SLR. *





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