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Video:How to Take a Good Gymnastics Photo

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Taking good gymnastics photos requires some skill and some knowledge of how to use your camera. This video from About.com will provide some tips for great gymnastics photography.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Take a Good Gymnastics Photo

Hello, I'm Ryan Hockenburger for About.com, and I'm going to be teaching you about gymnastics photography.

Taking a great gymnastics photo requires the same skills as taking any other kind of sports photo. You must have impeccable timing and a natural sense of composition. It takes practice. Here are a few things that I feel will help in your quest to become a great gymnastics, or in general, a great sports photographer.

Composition in Gymnastics Photography

First you must practice composition and framing. This means where the subject is situated within your frame, as well as how large or small they appear in the photo. If you are a fan of any art, be it painting, film, or photography, you have been exposed to composition. The painting masters developed a visual language which is still in use today.

First we will talk about symmetrical composition. Symmetrical composition means having a balanced frame. Your subject is perfectly in the center of the frame and the background is virtually the same on either side of the subject. You can reference Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" for this composition, as well as this photo.

Now we will talk about asymmetrical composition. Asymmetric photography is different from symmetrical composition in that the frame is unbalanced. The subject is not in the center of the frame, but in the right or left portion of the frame. This can be useful for creating a sense of time, as in something just happened, or something is about to happen. Use asymmetric composition right before or after a flip or gymnastics maneuver.

Camera Settings

After you feel comfortable with these different composition styles, you can begin to experiment with your camera settings. If you are using automatic exposure, you are at the mercy of the camera, and your images may be blurred. Try manual exposure to get more control of your images. Since things happen fast in sports, you'll need a quick shutter speed. I like to set my shutter speed at at least 125. Of course you can go faster, using speeds such as 200 or even 1000, but this may put a strain on your camera or lens.

Speaking of your lens, you're going to want to open your aperture as wide as it can go. This means setting it to the lowest number available. For example, if your aperture settings have a choice for 1.8, 3.5, and 4, your best bet is to use 1.8. If 1.8 is unavailable, choose the smallest number for your aperture setting. This is allowing the most amount of light available into your camera, which is important for quick sports photography. Using these settings should help in getting a photo which is not blurred.

Perspective for Gymnastics Photos

If you are comfortable with your composition and exposure settings, it's time to start getting creative! There are many things you can do to get an interesting gymnastics photo. Let's talk about perspective. Positioning yourself and the camera low to the ground is ideal for gymnastics. This makes jumps and flips appear higher than if you take the photo at head height. It may feel awkward lying on the ground, but it will certainly make for a better photo.

Store Photos on Your Camera

Lastly, I will mention a non technical tip. Often people will take a digital photo, review it on their tiny LCD screen, and immediately make a decision to keep or delete the photo. This is certainly not the ideal viewing medium. If you are worried about space on your memory card, buy a memory card which can support more photos. Often an image looks bad on the small LCD, but when you take it back to your computer, you may find that the image is more interesting than first thought. Without reviewing your photo on your computer, you may have deleted your best shot!

If you are using a digital camera which requires a CF or compact flash card, get a card with multiple gigs of space. They are getting cheaper every day, and it's really worth it to store each photo you take to review later. SD cards, or secure digital cards are also getting cheaper and more robust each day. It's possible you can find a large card for under $20.

Well, I hope you have learned something from this lesson and you are well on your way to becoming a great gymnastics photographer. This has been Ryan Hockenburger for About.com, happy shooting!

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