Tips for boxing photography

Tips for boxing photographyI’d been on an interesting photoshoot recently. I was invited to shoot a boxing match. It was quite a challenging one, as shooting a boxing match is not like your average sporting event. Since this was my first one, I researched a lot on the things I would need to consider and prepare. To start with there is the venue, which can range from as simple a place as a tent to a well-constructed auditorium.

Lighting

There are variations in the lighting too.  Since using flash is not an option, you have to manage with the existing light conditions. It is difficult to shoot up into the lights. The lights present above the ring usually don’t follow any fixed pattern. In case the arena is steep, the lights are set up higher. Regardless of the setup, you would have to waste quite a few frames before you get the lighting right. I had to work on the existing frames to get rid of lens flare. Removing the filters and using a hood for the lens helps in avoiding the flares.

Exposure

If boxers are using protective headgear, you should be careful about the exposure as their face disappears in the headgear’s shadow or behind their arms, when they look down or cover up.  And depending on your height and that of the ring, you may have to contend with irate fans who resent your intrusion.

You need to be prepared and of course be thick skinned, if you have to get good shots. I for one am not worried, as I practice daily with the grappling dummy I bought at http://www.grapplingdummyinsider.com/ . The bjj training I do with it makes me flexible and fit, so I can put up an equally good fight, if I come up against an enraged fan.

Proper equipment

Now this is a no brainer. You have to be equipped with the right gear. While travelling light is better, it helps if you have two cameras- one for ringside with f/2.8 and 24-70 mm and another for taking shots of the fighters, when they are in the corner or enter into the ring. In some places, the rings have space under them for storage, which you can use.

Zoom

It is best if you keep using zooms and prime focus alternatively. For, fast prime f/1.8 or f/1.2 gives you better contrast and less flare. A wide-angle view is better. Zooms are versatile so both the two can be used to tackle the flare.  While you may think that being above the ring is the right place to be in, the photographs look similar. The best and intimate ones are those taken ringside.

Decide between loose body shots or waist up shots. For a record photograph that tells about the knock down using the loose body shots is best. If you want to have impact, a close up shot is best. But this needs right timing and focus, which are difficult to achieve. To get real close up shots where glove hits face with distorted facial expressions, which are the most popular, you need to be ready as these needing timing of nanosecond range. You have to get the right timing and some luck to get such shots.