Photography Tips #4: Rugby 7s

As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve had some experience with sports photography especially with rugby. Being at a Welsh university its hard to not be involved in the sport one way or another albeit playing, spectating, refereeing or taking photos. In this post I’m going to talk about equipment I recommend and settings, positioning on the pitch and composition.


For all my sports currently I use my Canon 6D with an EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Having this telephoto zoom is integral to get the best framed shots without losing out in quality. The wider aperture of f/2.8  is not essential as most sports you’ll want to shoot around f/4.0 but it adds to  shots and allows tacky backgrounds to be blurred out and create more focus on the play. Avoid shooting on fully manual, especially if you are shooting outdoors, instead stay with Aperture priority. You’ll want to have a fast shutter speed, nothing below 1/400 to get a non-blurry image. This paired with continuos shooting mode and AI Servo has the perfect set up to capture running shots without having to worry about blur and focusing issues. Talking about focus, keep all sensors open so the camera can automatically focus on the subject. Shooting in JPEG/RAW is all down to personal preference, but if you are in a print on the day environment, JPEG offers a faster buffer speed and still holds good quality.


There are many posts in forums debating on whether you should stay at certain lines and wait for the action to come to you, or stay in line with the plays and go to the action yourself. Staying at certain lines means that if there is an offensive break, you can capture it more aptly if you are down the end of the field away from the plays, but it can mean that you miss an important play and therefore an important shot. Again this down to personal preference if you want to follow the plays up and down the pitch and get to the action that way, or wait for the action to come to you. This also boils down to the gear you use as well, if you have a zoom lens up to 400mm its better to find different positioning than follow the play as you have the zoom advantage. My personal preference is to follow the action mainly due to the 200mm limit of my lens as well as to follow plays better.




r1.jpgLike all sports photography, understanding the sport is essential to get the shots that people are looking for. If you haven’t watched a rugby match before, go out and find a match to spectate or look at recorded matches online. It also helps to read advise from others, look on forums, blogs, ask friends, anything that can give you more insight can and will help. Look for key plays such as passing, line outs,tackles, rucks and breakaways. Never watch the game, shoot the game, anticipate the plays and usually the composition will come with following the action. If you can get lower to the ground, if you are tall like me standing to take photos can occasionally make the plays look small and not as exciting or miss out action. Another important aspect again is framing, get the whole play in, or keep the image tight to the centre of the action.


The editing process should highlight your good images and your bad images. Don’t be afraid to be critical on yourself, and always have a second opinion close by to help hone your skills. Ideally you want to get the shot as you take it and not rely on software such as Photoshop and Lightroom, so take note on your good and what you can do to improve your bad.

And Remember: Have fun, laugh, smile and enjoy yourself!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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