Commack High School Varsity Wrestling vs. Patchogue-Medford

Commack High School Varsity Wrestling vs. Patchogue-Medford

Want some tips on photographing high school wrestling? If you're just here for the photos, scroll down to the bottom of the post and click on any thumbnail to open the gallery.

  • A 70-200 full frame equivalent lens is probably all you'll need. This would be around a 50-140mm on an APS-C sensor camera.
  • Some schools, mine included, turn off the perimeter lights  for wrestling to make things more dramatic. If the light is fairly even to the edge of the mat it would be a good time to use manual exposure settings. Here I'm using ISO 6400, 1/250 sec. @ f/2.8. That's a little underexposed but works well for my camera body (Fuji XT-2).
  • You might be surprised at the relatively long shutter speed (1/250 sec.). The reality is that, for much of the time, wrestlers don't move much so you don't need a very high shutter speed. You may get a little motion blur when they do move but, sometimes, this is a good thing as long as the face stays sharp. Don't worry if you have to use a lower shutter speed; just wait for the wrestlers to stop moving.
  • Try to get the handshake at the beginning of each match. On occasion, a wrestler will be pinned very quickly and you might not have time to get any more shots.
  • I try to position myself on the side of the mat with the wrestler I'm shooting facing me at the beginning of the match. That way I can at least get the handshake. After that, since the wrestlers are circling, there's really no good or bad place to position yourself. You may want to notice which way the ref and wrestler face when the ref raises his hand after a win so you can move around that side to get that shot, if possible.
  • Besides the actual matches, don't forget shots of the coaches and the wrestlers on the benches. Just remember that, if the perimeter lights are out, the lighting over the coaches and bench will be dimmer and you'll have to adjust your exposure accordingly.  Also, occasionally including the ref in the shot makes things look more "official".

Have fun.

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