Let’s make it clear, I don’t consider myself to be a sports photographer even though one of my images for Exeter School managed some quite pleasing coverage in The Times. But, photographing sports photography is a great example of what someone once referred to me as resistance training for photographers.
Apart from personal safety, hockey balls hurt, the main issue that this workout addresses is timing. Because of the way I work my cameras are set up to back button focus on a single focus point. What this means in practice is that a single viewfinder focus is selected by a button on the back of the camera (not the shutter release). The Nikon D850 will do lots of fancy focus work but that’s not how I use it. Also, I only ever use a single shutter release rather than the ‘spray and pray’ that some people use. This is quite a slow way of working but it is great to practice these techniques on fast moving subjects.
I do invariably use a monopod (a tripod with one leg) and the camera is usually set to ‘auto ISO’ but other than that there is actually very little tech. The tripod helps because the Nikon with a reasonable lens is around 3KG and I normally carry two. However, tiring as it is, the exercise from my side of the lens is about timing, and keeping it smooth. It’s useful to get the hang of shooting with both eyes open too, it helps in predicting the action as it develops but also avoids headaches from having one eye shut for hours at a time!
I would recommend sport photography to anyone wanting to brush up their camera skills but I invariably find myself coming away from these sessions with huge respect for the young people who have been playing the sports, their endeavour, skills and commitment.