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Football Photography and Pictures

Go to any level of football match these days, and you will probably see professional and amateur photographers covering the game. Digital cameras have made sports photography in general much more accessible to the non-professional, and good quality action pictures can be taken without very much knowledge: a lot of it depends on timing – and luck! However it takes a lot of practice and skill to be able to get iconic football pictures, like the famous shot of Zinedine Zidane walking past the World Cup after being sent off in the 2006 final, or Maradona’s ‘Hand of God‘ goal against England in 1986. These are a matter of being in the right place at the right time. How much the photographer earned for the photo of England’s Paul Gascoigne in tears after losing the 1990 World Cup semi final to Germany on penalties is unknown, but it was no doubt a lot more than the picture of Pele wearing a sombrero after winning in Mexico in 1970.
Most top football pictures are taken by freelance professionals, who sell them to an agency for distribution. A few lucky photographers have staff jobs on sports papers and magazines.

Some tips for amateur photographers
The football photographer‘s job is to anticipate the action and be ready for the kind of shots that are wanted. This means you need to be passionate and knowledgeable about the game, but also sufficiently detached to focus on your pictures rather than getting caught up in watching the match. Shooting images continuously through a piece of action allows you to find the best one later.

During the whole match, aim to take a mixture of long, middle and close- up shots, and decide whether you are after photos that convey movement and are a bit blurry, or pictures that freeze a significant action in a crystal-clear moment. (The former means slow shutter speeds and panning the camera with the movement of the subject, while the latter requires a fast lens and a high ISO setting.)



Cameras suitable for football photography have multiple focusing areas distributed across the viewinder, as opposed to just in the centre of the image; this feature allows you to focus on areas of the picture that are not in the centre of your shot. A ‘constant autofocus‘ facility (sometimes called ‘continuous focusing mode‘) lets you keep your finger pressed on the shooting button while the camera’s autofocus system adjusts the focus as the subject moves. Also, experiment with turning off the autofocus and using the manual focus to see what interesting effects you can get.

If you plan to use your camera for sports photography regularly, it is worth getting one with a continuous shooting mode which allows you to shoot a sequence of photos by keeping your finger pressed. These vary in the number of frames per second they shoot, but don’t just go for the fastest one without checking the number of pixels in each image.
Use a 300mm to 400mm lens:in order for the subject to fill a 35mm frame, you need 100mm lens for each 10 metres your camera is from its subject. Assuming you have such a lens, if you are trying to shoot goal action you need to be only 30m – 40m from the penalty area. However a good 400mm lens will cost you many thousands of US dollars. If you can’t afford or don’t want such a big lens, choose a camera with fast ISO settings and an image stabilisation system, which will help you in the low light conditions often found at football matches.

Use of the pictures is free provided that the source is mentioned.

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