Sports photography


Firstly congratulations to mark-.dinnage for winning May’s ‘People and Expressions’ photo challenge competition. A special thanks to Panasonic Global and LUMIX Ambassador Gagan Sadana for judging May’s photo challenege competition. Don’t forget this month’s winner will be announced at the start of August, so make sure you submit your entry before the closing date of 31st July to be in with a chance of winning!

For this month’s Expert Advice article LUMIX Ambassador and professional photographer, Ian Cook, set himself the task of Sports photography.

2016 was always going to be a massive year in the world of sport. A packed sporting calendar for us Brits has included, alongside such annual must-sees as the Six Nations and Wimbledon Tennis Fortnight, those three-Test Rugby Union Series in the Southern Hemisphere – which proved especially joyous for England fans – the European Football Championships – which have given similar heart to the Welsh – and, of course, the icing on the cake yet to come: the Rio Olympics.

With the Euros recently proving such a roller-coaster for home-nation fans, it seemed only natural to turn to sport for this month’s Panasonic LUMIX G Photo Challenge competition. Before I explain more, however, having been asked to pen this accompanying article and to set the Challenge for July, I’d just like to introduce myself – hello! I’m Ian Cook – and give you some information on my background in photography.

I am a senior photographer for the sports image library CameraSport, which is based in Leicester. I have been fortunate to cover many huge events in recent years, from the London 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games to the UEFA Champions League Final in 2014 and 2016, two Ryder Cup Golf tournaments, last year’s Rugby World Cup, the RBS Six Nations and the Guinness Pro12. Finally, I am a Licensed Premier League Football photographer.

I have been using LUMIX G cameras for nearly two years now, along with my existing DSLRs. Some of my most memorable shots have been taken using a Panasonic LUMIX G; these cameras have functions that I simply could not have using a DSLR. For example, the Silent Shutter, Wi-Fi connectivity to my smartphone, in-body Stabilisation and the 4K Photo mode.


This function especially has changed the way we think about capturing action – no doubt about it. With 30fps, that’s 30 shots to choose from with a ‘single’ 4K Photo capture, rather than your 10 to 14 that you might capture with a pro DSLR. It’s been a game-changer for professional sports photographers – there really is no excuse to miss that shot!

So, 4K has brought a new element to the table in terms of capturing moments of action and high-speed drama. And while people will often say to me that they are a photographer, not a videographer, I always reply: “So am I! I don’t know the first thing about shooting video!” You, as a photographer, still have to set your camera up to shoot a single image – to be able to freeze the action, as you usually would. It’s the camera set to 4K Video Mode that offers the added extras!

If you think about it, what would an old-school photographer who used to shoot on 36-exposure celluloid film say about today’s digital camera technology? It’s technical advances such as these that give you an edge over the competition – so, if you don’t embrace it, you could be left behind. But enough about the kit, let’s talk about the shoot…


The camera settings for this shot:

  • LUMIX DMC-GX8 camera
  • Shutter Speed           1/200 sec
  • Focal length 8.0 mm   (in 35mm: 16.0 mm)
  • ISO 200
  • f/14

When I cover any event, I try first and foremost to select the best location for my backdrop. I am always looking for the cleanest background, as this will make your athlete stand out and make him/her ‘pop’. Doing your homework in advance is crucial, therefore. Has this event taken place before, or regularly? Last time, what happened where? And where is the action likely to be (as specifically as possible) this time? Check the weather closely if this is to be an outdoor event. Or look into the lighting if it is indoors. You need to work out where to position yourself, obviously – where you want your camera to be.


The camera settings for this shot:

  • LUMIX DMC-GH4 camera
  • Shutter Speed           1/2000 sec
  • Focal length 68.0 mm   (in 35mm: 177.0 mm)
  • LUMIX G VARIO 35-100/F2.8
  • ISO 400
  • f/14

Next, choose the best lens you have. Not everyone has the option of fitting a f2.8 lens; if you have, then that’s great, but if not don’t panic! You CAN still nail the shot. If you have a lenses that the aperture ranges through the range, then I would set the camera to Shutter Priority Mode, as this will allow you to maintain the shutter speeds required to freeze the action. The general rule of thumb regarding shutter speed is to go for no less than 1/1000th of a second. The only exception to this is when shooting moving vehicles, for example in motor racing or bikes, or when you’re trying to achieve a panning shot.


The camera settings for this shot:

  • LUMIX DMC-GH4 camera
  • Shutter Speed           1/320 sec
  • Focal length 68.0 mm   (in 35mm: 177.0 mm)
  • ISO 500
  • f/4.0

Other technical considerations include the use of a tripod or not (and if you are going to mount your camera, that is when smartphone connectivity can come in so handy). Also, I am always mindful of horizons in my pictures – my advice is make sure they are straight and not on a slant. Be clear about the subject or subjects of your shot; sports photography is focused – remember the ‘pop’! You are not offering a visual array for the viewer to scan through; you are capturing something specific to immediately capture their attention.

One last thing to bear in mind when shooting sport is that it’s sometimes not about the action itself. It can also be about the emotion of the competition. For example, capturing the fans’ sheer joy when their team is winning – or the utter dejection of those supporters on the losing side! The subject of the shot is no less specific, but images such as these can be just as powerful as a freeze-frame of an athlete doing their thing.

Golf - Day 2 - Celebrity Cup 2015 - Sunday 5th July 2015 - Celtic Manor Resort  - Newport

The camera settings for this shot:

  • LUMIX DMC-GH4 camera
  • Shutter Speed           1/3200 sec
  • Focal length 12.0 mm   (in 35mm: 24.0 mm)
  • LUMIX G VARIO 12-35/F2.8
  • ISO 800
  • f/4.5

I am delighted to be judging July’s monthly LUMIX Photo Challenge competition – and when I go through your entries I will be looking for examples bearing in mind some of the points I’ve been through in this piece. Above all, though, go out and have fun! That’s what photography – and, essentially, sport too – is all about; creating memories and challenging yourself to get better!

Be sure to send me your best shot. Thank you – I am so looking forward to seeing your images.


Enter this months challenge here

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