Ever see an action shot that just blows your mind? The athlete looks to be 400 feet in the air and is gapping a distance far greater than the Grand Canyon. The trick? Either the image was shot from a low angle with a wide lens, or the athlete is the next Evel Knievel. The latter is far more likely….
The first step is obviously to buy a wide lens. If you’re shooting on a DX (cropped sensor) something in the range of 12-24mm is perfect. If your camera is an FX (full-frame sensor) then your going to want to look into a14-24mm, or 16-35mm. 16mm on a full frame is about as wide as 12mm on a DX cropped frame. For action that involves close work with the athlete, a wide lens is probably the best lens you could purchase. If you’re shooting sports events from the stands…. this article does not apply to you.
Just buying the lens does not make you a better photographer. If it were that simple we would all be top-level pros! You need to get in close to the athlete and explore the angles. When shooting this wide, being further away from the athlete will make the feature look MASSIVE. If you go closer in, it will still look big, but will be more realistic and capture more expression from your athlete. There’s a time and place for both! Action sports take place in cool and unique locations, wide lenses will capture the element around the athlete and make the action look extreme. As Michael Scott from the office say’s, “It’s a Win-Win…..Win Situation!”
Explore your options and move around to find the best angle. Sometime the best angle will only be a foot away from a terrible angle, learn more about that here: “Finding the Best Angle“. Keep your eyes open and look around. Watch for any low (close to the ground shooting up) angles. Since you’re shooting wide, the lower you go, the more extreme the shot. This is what will make your image exciting and different from everybody else. Extreme angles, make extreme photos and when it comes to capturing an athlete taking air, shooting from a low position will make the shot all the more exciting and intense!