Guest Article by : David Bryce
Golf can be a pretty tough sport to photograph well. This may seem counter-intuitive, as it lack speed, multiple players in motion, and ball to follow of other sports. The slow pace and limited movement make it an easy thing to photograph overall, the nuances such as having to deal with the changing light conditions of the outdoors, restrictions on when and where you can move, and when you can take a shot make it a challenge to do really well. This article will give you some tips on how to get a start on getting great pictures of golf in action.
What Gear to Use
I will sidestep the Nikon or Canon argument and just say to shoot with whatever you are comfortable and familiar with. It is important to be able to get the shot you want quickly, and familiarity with your camera will facilitate this need. So just use the gear and lens you are experienced with for the best results.
Shooting Player Shots
When shooting a player’s golf shot, you are usually trying to get a good shot of their face, which can be hidden by a hat or visor. For this reason, you should avoid shooting on automatic and stick with front-lit, side-lit, and back-lit exposures and be aware of changing light conditions. Beyond that, there are three important moments in a golfer’s swing that you should concern yourself with: the point of impact between the club and the ball, the follow through swing, and the golfer’s reaction. A good way to practice your timing is to take shots at the driving range. You will have more freedom to photograph and you will have more subjects on which to practice taking shots. One important aspect is to avoid taking a shot during a player’s backswing. The etiquette of golf demands silence during the backswing. There are however, some conditions during which you can take this kind of shot. These are: If you have permission of the golfer, if your camera is absolutely silent, or if the noise of your shot is masked by a louder noise. Some examples of masking noises would be a power generator, moving water, or nearby traffic.
Choosing where to take your shots from is a big part of photographing golf. The nature of the game can restrict where you can shoot from, so you will have to learn to work within these constraints. The most important aspect of positioning is the background behind the golfer. Make sure the background behind your subject is not overly cluttered or overly sparse. Make sure there is nothing behind the golfer that will draw more attention than the golfer will. The second thing to pay attention to is the direction of the sunlight. This is one of the challenges of photographing and outdoor sport, especially one that lasts as long as golf. You will likely be dealing with many different positions of the sun throughout the course of the game in addition to lighting changes due to clouds, and reflections off of water and other surfaces. Dealing with these issues is just a matter of having good reflexes and lots of practice.
So that should give you a good primer into photographing the sport of golf. It gets more involved than this of course, but these are the basics. The best thing you can do is give yourself lots of practice to get a feeling for the timing of the game and of individual golfers.