Commack High School Girls Varsity Winter Track
I had missed the shot put team the last time I photographed girls winter track so I figured I'd catch Saturday's crossover meet to see if I could get them. Unfortunately it turned out half the team was at another meet and, out of the four throwers at my meet, only one got to throw before the end of the meet. That's show biz.
The shot put area is at the far west end of the SCCC Brentwood sports complex. Not a lot else goes on down at that end but it is near the track. So... while I was waiting for our thrower's turn I thought I'd shoot some slow shutter photos of the runners going by. These types of shots are not easy to get. You want to use a slow shutter speed, in the 1/30 to 1/10 sec. range. The idea is to motion-blur everything but the runners face. To do this you need to pan your camera with the runner and, ideally, shoot when they're right across from your camera, perpendicular to your position.
Try to make your camera pan as level as possible. Rather than face the oncoming runner at the start of your pan, face the point on the track opposite you where the runner will be when you take their photo. Twist your body to face the runner as she approaches then, by the time you take the photo, your body will be "untwisted" and facing the runner. This results in a more stabilized camera at the time the shot is taken. Some of the success in getting these shots depends on the runner and whether or not she moves her head when she runs. If she does, you won't be able to take a sharp photo of her.
Taking slow-shutter action shots takes lots of practice but it's a lot of fun. You won't get many keepers but the ones you get will definitely look cool.