I took a stab at sports photography after 15 years of working hundreds of events in different capacities as a freelance video tech, scorekeeper, game staffer, and even autograph line monitor. I never tried being on that side of the lens before, but I learned how to take sports photos with the Canon PowerShot over a handful of baseball games. A few weeks later, I wound up with a photo credit on the back cover of a local newspaper.
This was not an easy task. The first game resulted in poor photos with over-saturated colors. Overnight, I learned that concert photography and sports photography are not the same thing.
For this freelance gig, I took photos of the Delco League, one of the oldest semipro baseball associations in the United States. The environment dictated that I learn how to take sports photos with the Canon PowerShot in unique settings.
The camera was a wedding gift in 2014. Despite its small size, it is a “little engine that could.” The PowerShot has come in handy at countless concerts, vacations, and now baseball games.
Canon PowerShot Settings For Sports
These settings are with the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS.
High Speed Burst – This setting allows a sequence of action shots in quick succession. High Speed Burst is the best camera setting for sports. It especially comes in handy for baseball, where the rotation of the ball presents a unique challenge. High Speed Burst allows for great shots of the ball in motion and other types of action.
White Balance – One of my biggest battles was dusk and changing cloud cover. I experimented with the PowerShot’s Auto White Balance, but found it to be less intuitive than I wanted. I had better results with my own judgement. This often meant that I altered between Daylight or Cloudy White Balance settings.
Full HD – I used Full HD Mode on all pictures. This locks in a high quality of sports photos, especially with the Canon PowerShot’s High Speed Burst setting. The only negative to this approach is large file size. A 16 GB memory card was enough for me, but can fill up on Full HD mode quickly.
How To Photograph Sports With The Canon PowerShot
Photos should tell the story of the game. Cool action shots are money, but so are straightforward pictures that help illustrate a game recap. I learned through process of elimination that the newspaper selects photos with good framing and clear head shots for its online and print stories. While that sounds basic, it is important to remember that common sense fundamentals are good rules to follow.
I went into each game knowing that starting pitchers were the most important baseball photos to take. The winning pitcher is most likely to headline a story. Thinking of stories as a game progresses is also key.
One example came as a no-hitter developed in Game Four of the Delco League Finals. I had plenty of photos of the starting pitcher already, but I kept shooting because I knew that I had to get the best possible shots to document the historic story. One of those later photos wound up in the newspaper.
The Canon PowerShot has okay zoom capabilities, but shooting the outfield is not as effective as photographing a player less than 200 feet away. To make up for the camera’s limitations, I tried a variety of shots from different locations around the infield.
Baseball And The Canon PowerShot
Fields dictated the setup more than anything. Sometimes the structure of the batting cage or location of the bleachers forced me to become creative. Over time, I improved my feel for different fields.
I squeezed the Canon PowerShot lens through the netting or batting cage to get a few of the pitchers and hitters, but I preferred to key in on first base because that is where the bulk of the action is. Hovering around third base allows for the best of all of worlds. You can keep an eye on the infield corners, the pitcher, and face most base runners.
Overall, I found success through variety and volume. I switched sides to get the best angles on right-handers and left-handers. To change things up, I also sat on base runners from time-to-time, which paid off in a fun photo sequence.
I also got experimental by kneeling to shoot upwards at players or putting the camera in the infield grass. Granted, the photos below are cut off or crooked, but sports photography is about more than head shots. Playing around with unique angles is fun.
It is also educational. Learning how to take sports photos means finding out what I can get away with and what I have to improve on. With digital photography there is no excuse to not take a lot of photos. I took hundreds in each game. The worst-case scenario is that there are delete-able photos and I learn from those mistakes.
This paid off after the title game ended. I kept shooting in order to capture a few celebration photos. One of those pictures wound up on the back cover of the Delaware County Daily Times. The lucky shot was a byproduct of constantly snapping photos and being in a good place at the right time.
This experience was rewarding on multiple levels. 1) I landed a photo in a newspaper. 2) I earned an unexpected payoff from learning a new skill in a short amount of time. Freelancing as a frequent side hustle is about taking advantage of new opportunities. Learning how to take sports photos with the Canon PowerShot was a fun experience in my ever-changing freelance portfolio.