Figure skating photography allows you to improve your sports photography skills and spice up your portfolio. Figure staking photos are rather complicated as they require shooting in different lighting conditions and capturing the right moments during the action. With this in mind, I've collected useful tips that will help you take appealing figure skating pictures.
Figure skating photography is similar to hockey photography as both sports take place on the ice rink. Nevertheless, when it comes to hockey photography, the photographer should capture the most dangerous moments in motion.
As for figure skating photography, it requires demonstrating the aerobic technique, elegance and beauty. The following tips will allow you to take top-notch skating photos and master your photography skills.
To take flattering figure skating photographs, you will need to explore the skating rink in advance. I recommend you to study the program and watch several videos and pictures shot in this arena.
Thus, you will have a clear idea about techniques that are better to apply while shooting in this particular place.
Visit the skating arena during the dress rehearsal before the performances. This will allow you to prepare your camera gear and test the place. Don't forget to take warm clothing as it is usually cold on the ice arena.
It is essential to pick the right location. If you choose the place near the ice, you will be able to take stunning photographs of the participants passing by.
However, the podium is a no less good location to take beautiful shots of those fleeting moments.
Usually, there are no more than 10 rows on the skating arena. So, if you use the right camera gear and settings, you will be able to take gorgeous figure skating photos from the audience.
The skaters move very quickly on the ice. That is why it is recommended to take as many shots as possible, instead of preparing for a long time to capture the right moment.
Athletes can quickly change their location and appear on any part of the rink, so feel free to shoot at any opportunity. Not only the skater’s performance can be full of breathtaking moments.
The athlete may perform some interesting tricks to greet the audience or express gratitude for the support. Anyway, keep your eyes out and shoot all the time the athlete is performing on the rink.
It is possible to achieve good photos by shooting with the conventional medium camera. However, you will probably find yourself disappointed with its limitations for ice skates photography. That is why it is better to pick the camera that is suitable for sports and action shooting.
Choose the one that has the ability to keep one AF point on a subject and can reach 10 fps for 26 shots. To take professional-looking photos, consider buying a camera with a special button for focusing back.
While shooting figure skating performances, you should understand that you will be at a far distance from the athletes. That is why I suggest using a telephoto lens.
This will allow you to fill the frame with as much of the subject as possible and zoom in if necessary. Besides, this type of lens will help you avoid blur in the photo while shooting in poor lighting situations.
In most cases, a range of 70-300 mm is more than enough. For ice skating photography, an autofocus lens is also recommended.
It is quite difficult to hold a large lens for several hours. To simplify your work, consider using a tripod or monopod.
I think the tripod is not a very handy tool for ice rink photography, as there is a burst of movements on the arena and it will be rather complicated to take a good photo. That’s why many photographers prefer to hold their cameras in hand and the shots they take are rather good.
However, in order not to miss an interesting trick, it is necessary to constantly keep your hands in the same position and in suspense. That is why the perfect solution is to use a monopod.
Figure skating is associated not only with beauty and elegance but also with extreme pressure and danger. The skaters are fully focused on their performances.
In order not to scare them and trigger falling or improper landing, it is not allowed to use flash.
There is always an insufficient amount of light on the skating rink. Use the IS lens to avoid blur in poor lighting conditions. Set ISO at 800 or higher if you want to make a shutter speed faster.
Also, it is necessary to use a large aperture of at least f/2.8. If you use a zoom lens, you will need to increase the ISO to 1600-3200 as this type of lens requires more light compared to a wide-angle one.
Anyway, it is essential to use higher ISO settings because it is better to achieve a stunning shot with little noise than a blurred photo.
It is necessary to balance shutter speed and light sensitivity in order to avoid digital noise in your skating photo. I advise setting the shutter speed to 1/500 or higher.
With a long lens, it is possible to go faster. If athletes are slower, you can slightly decrease shutter speed. When the skater performs difficult turns, steps or jumps, use slow shutter speed.
It is recommended to stabilize your camera with a monopod or tripod so that the skater doesn’t appear blurry in the photo.
Figure skating photography requires working with different colors and tones. To avoid unflattering colors, balance out your color temperature manually.
Remember to shoot in RAW, as it allows you to adjust the white balance during the photo editing process. It is possible to change the hue, saturation, brightness of each color in your shot.
This way you can remove vibrant distractions and make a skater stand out. Also, shooting in RAW guarantees high-quality results and simplifies photo editing workflow.
Figure skating involves intense movements. It is not that important for the athlete to look pretty as they are focused on the technique rather than the way they look like.
Sometimes skaters appear on the rink the way you least expect them to. To get more flattering results, try to photograph simple poses and movements.
Pair skating photography differs from any other photography types. For a photographer, it is necessary not only to demonstrate a technique, capture the right moments but also show the connection between the partners.
Each movement affects both skaters. To get appealing pictures, try to shoot joint rotations or the moment the partners are holding hands.
Get awe-inspiring figure skating photos by shooting jumps and rotations. When the athletes perform difficult jumps, their faces do not always look attractive and sometimes the facial features appear unnatural.
However, if the skater faces the camera at the peak of the jump and you manage to capture it, you will achieve an impressive image. When an athlete is in the air, try to capture the moment of his/her landing which will also look very graceful.
If you take a series of photographs throughout the spinning or jumping, you can get awesome results as well.
To make your photos look more vivid, focus on details. Usually, the skaters wear bright, shiny outfits that stand out against the background of white ice.
However, some athletes prefer to wear extraordinary costumes to amaze the audience. No matter how creative the participant’s outfit will be, it is an excellent opportunity for you to diversify your portfolio and get access to unique perspectives.
When it comes to figure skating photography, the main task of the photographer is to capture the emotions. Thus, you will be able to enliven your images.
Skaters do not specifically pose in front of the camera, which makes their emotions real and arouses the viewers' interest. Whatever the emotions are, subtle or intense, you will definitely get attention-grabbing shots.
When a kid appears on the ice rink, it is a special occasion. They don't need to perform complex elements or wear bright outfits to look appealing in the frame. Just take a couple of photos and you will see awesome results.
You can take extraordinary pictures by focusing on such details as figure skating boots. There is a variety of skates made for the best on-ice performance. Zoom them in and shoot the athlete in motion to tell a unique story.
Figure skating lifts are the most spectacular elements of pair skating. Breathtaking and dangerous, they look amazing in the photo. Such an ice skating photo will be a nice complement to your portfolio as they demonstrate the strength and elegance at the same time.
At the end of the performance, you can take a photo of a final pose that always looks gracefully in the photo.
This photo shows the feelings and emotions of medal winners. Don’t miss the chance to capture this moment. The participants are staying calm and this is a great chance to take outstanding photos.
Figure skating photography requires patience and practice. When you have taken amazing photos, you can perfect them by using picture editing freebies. They will help you simplify your workflow and give the photos a special touch.
Use this Ps action to add a professional finish to your photos. It allows you to enliven the picture and make it more appealing. Emphasize the grace and beauty in your photos by applying this filter.
This Ps overlay will be a perfect addition to your workflow as it allows you to make figure skating photos more vivid and attention-grabbing. Use it if you want to add tenderness to the picture.
If you want to get expressive and extraordinary pictures, use this free Lr preset. It adds a slight blue tint to the shot and creates a dramatic effect.