Commack High School Girls Varsity Fencing vs. Brentwood
Congratulations to the Commack girls fencing team on their win over Brentwood. Off to a good start. Photographing fencing is not easy. The sport is much faster than it looks and, if you're photographing in the typical high school, the dimly lit gyms just add to your list of challenges. As with most indoor sports you need to find the sweet spot between the fastest shutter speed and the lowest ISO. Unfortunately, this usually translates to a shutter speed that's not as fast as you would like and an ISO that's higher than you would like. Not much you can do about this.
I shot this match at ISO 6400, which got me 1/640 sec. @ f/2.8. Definitely bring your fastest lens (the one with the widest aperture). If you don't have a fast zoom consider buying a fast 50mm prime. You can get a 50mm f/1.8 lens fairly cheaply, even cheaper if you buy a used one. If you're sitting relatively close to the action this can be an ideal focal length. Try to get a lens that focuses relatively quickly; you'll need all the speed you can get.
If you can choose from an array of focus sensors in your viewfinder, choose one near the upper right side (if your fencer is on the right). This will put your subject on the right side of the frame and allow space on the left side for the opponent. You want to get at least part of the opponent in your shot to make it look like your fencer is actually fencing someone.
I could also recommend that you aim for a clean background, but at the typical high school, that ain't happening. One thing they did get this year at Commack is a nice banner on the scoring table behind the fencers. That always makes for a cool shot. If you can get other fencers, or better yet, the coach, watching the match in the background that's good too, as long as they look interested.
I try to get one photo of the fencer with their helmet off just before the bout and another shaking hands with their opponent after the bout. "Try" is the operative word here, since many times other fencers/coaches will get in the way, but if you can get these shots it helps to identify the fencer before they put their mask on.
Your aim is to get a photo of a touch. You get extra points if you get the scoring light (lit, of course) in the photo or spectators cheering. Other than that, just take lots of photos because you'll probably have a lot of deletes.