Motion in Sport

We were fortunate to attend the Australian Open Tennis championships at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, this week, and had the opportunity for some sports photography. Our seats were in the second tier of the arena, so we took our longest zooms for the occasion. I used a 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens with a 1d4 (1.3 crop factor) and shot in AI servo mode at 10 frames per second.

Normally, sports photographers like to freeze the action. Be it cricket, tennis or football, most photos on the back pages of daily newspapers and in sporting magazines have the player and ball frozen in action. This requires a fast shutter speed, which can be as high as 1/4000 depending on the sport and the speed of the object. During the day or in sunlight this is fairly easily achievable, but at night one may require a camera with high ISO capabilities and a telephoto lens with a wide aperture to achieve these shutter speeds. This is why you see so many 400 f2.8s at sporting events, which at $10K is beyond most amateur photographers.

Plenty of 400 f2.8s here

An alternative is to attempt to demonstrate action by shooting at a much slower shutter speed and to pan with the athlete. As the subject is moving, with torso, arms, legs and in this case racquet all at different speeds, only part of the subject may be sharp, with motion blur being evident elsewhere. In our opinion, this depiction of motion gives the image an energy that is not evident when using fast shutter speeds. This album features images of Andrea Petkovic, Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka. The first 6 images are with a fast shutter speed between 1/1600 and 1/4000.

The last 3 images are with a shutter speed of between 1/60-1/80. We feel both sets of images have their place and demonstrate different facets of the game.

Finally a candid photo of Federer and a panorama of the stadium.

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