Get set for tennis
Q I’ve been asked to take some action shots for my local tennis club. Can you give me some tips? Gavin Hope
A Assuming you can stand courtside, you don’t need a really long lens, but I’d still suggest a medium telephoto lens to allow you to zoom into the action.
Something like a 70-200mm zoom would be perfect.
The tricky thing with tennis at your local club will be the backgrounds. They are likely to be messy, so see if you can work out the best angles for a cleaner backdrop – even if that is fencing – and work with apertures such as f/5.6 and f/4 to help blur it. You’re going to need fast shutter speeds – even for amateur players – because when someone is swinging for the ball, it’s fast! My example shot (right) was taken at 1/2,000 sec, to give you some idea.
Focusing needs to be spot-on too. Make sure your camera is in Continuous focus mode (AI Servo in Canon-speak) and get your active autofocus points on the player so they are sharp. Also shoot in continuous drive mode, so you can fire off several frames in rapid succession.
When it comes to most sports, the real key to a successful shot is in the timing and really importantly, where the ball is! If all your shots show someone swinging a racket but there’s no ball to be seen, they won’t be as effective because the ball gives the image context. In my shot I’ve managed to get a good combination of the outstretched racket, the player’s look of determination, and the ball.
Even a simple tennis shot needs careful planning and timing.