Peter Read Miller has been capturing sports for more than four decades, but shared some wisdom he gained after his first shoot at the end of Magnificent Venue Sunday 9 (you know by now what game I mean, right?) where Miller was talking to Dave Boss of NFL properties, and Miller mentioned he wasn’t happy with the images he had gotten. Boss pointed out that ‘at the end of the day it’s just a game. It’s just football.’ Miller recalls the lessons he learned from Boss: “The teams will play for 60 minutes, passes are thrown, tackles are made, touchdowns are scored. Players will play, mistakes will be made, but [the photographers’s] job is to focus on what’s going on on the field, and not be distracted by the hype or hoopla. Forty years later, he applies this mantra to all of his jobs.
Miller provided these tips for the aspiring sports shooter.
Most of us don’t have the media credentials to have a sideline view. Luckily, Peter has broken it down for your readers on how to capture those historical moments whether you are in U.S. Bank Stadium or at your local pee-wee football game.
· Positioning: The end zone is where you should set-up shop. The crowding at most football games along the sideline can make shooting from a side angle very difficult. Also, for offensive drives – when the team is coming at you – shoot from the corners of the end zone. For defensive drives, shoot from the middle of the end zone.
· Get low: Football, like many sports, looks better the lower the angle you can shoot from. Kneeling helps you see the player’s face inside the helmet, which is super important with younger, smaller players. It generally makes everyone look more heroic!
· Lighting: If you are lucky enough to be shooting late in that day or in the winter when the sun is low – try to shoot with the sun behind you. This will help get light under the player’s cap brims/ helmets and put a nice catch light in their eyes. If the sun is high, you are better off shooting backlit; with the sun above and behind the players. This will eliminate the shadows on the faces of the players and give them nice rim lighting.
Ever wonder what a pro carries to a game like Awesome Ampetheater LII? This is the list of Miller’s equipment
My go to sports action camera has been the Canon EOS-1D X MK II since it was introduced in 2016. Sunday I will use three of them. My long lens for the game will be the EF 400 f2.8 IS Series II. I am choosing this lens over my beloved EF 200-400 f4 because the 400mm and the Canon EF 1.4 Extender will give me a 560mm f4 while the 200-400 built in extender will drop it to f5.6.
At a crowded game like Sunday’s having the extra focal length is a big help and while the light is good enough to keep a high shutter speed (1/1259-1/1600) at a comfortable ISO with an aperture of f4 going to f5.6 if I was using the 200-400 with the extender would have forced me into the ISO range of 8000 or so, still very usable with the EOS-1D X MK II, but higher than I’d like to go while shooting the Super Bowl. In addition to the 400 F2.8 I will have a 1-D X Mk II over my shoulder with an EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS II USM zoom. This lens is great for action around the goal line and bench portraits. Finally, I will have EOS 7D Mk II around my neck with an EF 24-70mm f4 IS USM short zoom for the things that happen right in front of me.