3 Things to Immensely Improve your Indoor Sports Photography

Action shot during the Vitality Super League match between Leeds Rhinos and Servern Stars at Studio 001, Wakefield, England on 22nd March 2021.

Indoor Sports Photography is hard! And in poorly lit sports halls its even harder. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of photographers struggle indoors with different kinds of lighting and poor exposures, pros and amateurs a like. However, by following a few basic rules you can actually do a pretty decent job in even the worst venues.

Lock your White Balance

Cameras are great but one thing they ALWAYS struggle with indoors is White Balance. Now cameras have 2 inbuilt presets for indoor lighting.

Tungsten light3200
White fluorescent light4000
Credit: https://hk.canon/en/support/8202603500

While they’ll get you close, chances are they won’t be completely exact for most sport hall/arena lighting. One option is to flip to Auto White Balance but depending on the the sport and the uniforms being used, the colour temperature will be jumping around all over the place.

Another option is to custom set your White Balance, using a grey card in the venue. Its not too difficult to do and will get you some really great results. But whatever you do, to shoot consistently well indoors for sports, you HAVE to lock your white balance to something. It really does vastly improve your images.

Level your lines

While indoors there’s no horizons to level your images, there will be plenty of lines in your images. One thing to really help your indoor images look better is to make sure you’re straightening your images as much as possible.

Take a look at the images above. One the left: is an un-straightened shot and on the right is the same image that’s been straightened. It might seem like a small change, but the difference is big in my opinion. On the image on the right, the post and (more importantly) the LED signs in the background are straight. It just really tidies the image up.

While sometimes you can shoot on an angle, make sure this is a deliberate creative choice and not lazy editing.

Sit Yourself Down!

Perspective is everything in Sports Photography. One thing that will make your images stronger and more impactful is to change your perspective and the easiest way to do this is sit down. The lower you can get the better. For a lot of the time indoors I’m sat on the floor or at least I’m kneeling. This lowering of your camera, means that you make the sports your shooting look larger than life and more powerful which all adds to creating a dynamic set of images.

Alicia Scholes of Manchester Thunder during the Vitality Super League match between Manchester Thunder and Celtic Dragons at Studio 001, Wakefield, England on 21st March 2021.

The general rule of thumb I like to work too is, get low or get high but never shoot at eye level. Following this rule will always give you dynamic images.

Shooting indoors is hard at times and can be hugely daunting for inexperienced photographers but by working through a few simple things you can immensely improve your sports photography indoors. Yes it tricky but these things really help and get you off to a good start.

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