Commack High School Boys Varsity Winter Track
Here are a few tips on photographing high school winter track. 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.
- Unless your high school has a huge gym your winter track events will probably be held at a local college. If you haven't been there before it might be a good idea to plan a visit to have a look at the lighting conditions before the event. Our winter meets are held at Suffolk Community College's Brentwood campus and the lighting there is pretty dim. Plus the light reflects off a blue track and blue and red bleachers making for lots of color correction in post-processing.
- You can pretty much get away with a single 70-200mm full frame equivalent lens for these meets. If you'd like to get wider shots of the venue a 24-70mm or wider equivalent would be a good idea. If the lighting at your venue is anything like ours, a lens with an f/2.8 or wider maximum aperture would really be a good idea.
- Winter track is the ultimate test of your camera's autofocus. Check your camera manual and see if you have specific autofocus settings for things like subjects moving directly toward you, subjects moving erratically, suddenly accelerating subjects, etc. You'll need to use many of these different settings for the various events. Also, try to get a feel for how your camera's AF works in single point and multipoint modes. For example, my camera works best for oncoming runners using single-point AF whereas it does better with runners moving across the field of view with zone (multi-point) AF.
- As with most indoor sports, your in-focus hit rate will not be great, so take lots of shots.
- Stay out of the line of sight between the officials and the racers at the starting line. The officials have to have a clear view in case of false starts.
- When photographing the 55 dash or hurdles move away from the lanes before the runners get near the finish. They're moving fast and will take more than a few yards to stop. You don't want to be responsible for a collision.
- If your autofocus is having problems following the runners you might try pre-focusing on areas you know they'll run through. This is especially helpful with hurdles; just pre-focus on a hurdle near you and start shooting when the runner begins to jump over it. This also works with focusing on the toe board for shot put and the edge of the sand pit for the long or triple jump.
- When photographing relays, focus on the runner passing the baton since the runner he/she is passing it to will have his/her face turned away from you.
- If you're covering one school double check to see if all the team members are wearing the same uniform. This may sound like strange advice but sometimes teams change uniforms or don't have enough uniforms for all the athletes so they wear different t-shirts. If you don't know this ahead of time you may end up missing them.