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Shooting Clemson Soccer Games

Soccer was actually the first college sport I took pictures at. I joined the photography club and learned that they had sports passes we could use, so I walked from Holmes over to the soccer field with a pass and my Canon t3i and took pictures. After a few games I talked to Justin Pondexter and he told me about the position as a student photographer with Clemson's Athletic Department Media Team. I emailed Brian Hennessy my portfolio (this website but with a lot less on it) and the rest is history (aka I worked there for 3 ish years)

Getting in

Walk in the normal entrance while wearing your pass. They'll probably briefly search your bag and then let you in, (There's one guy that is paranoid and tells you to carry your backpack by the handle instead of on your shoulders, but maybe he's dropped that by now)

If you want to see if there's food in the press box then walk to the very top of the stairs and go on in. They typically have Powerade in the fridge up there and sometimes food.

I put my bag in the corner on the field, closest to the entrance (but like 6 feet down from the fans so no one can reach my bag)

Where you can go

Soccer is one of the more flexible sports for where you can be, but the action often won't be close to you no matter where you go.

You can be in the lime green pretty much all the time.

The bright red areas are bad - This is the area in front of the coaches and the player benches. Don't be there, don't even walk in front of the benches. (Except before the game, then it's kinda sorta okay).

The yellow area I think you can be in but it depends on who the refs are that day, and it just isn't a great place to be since you can't move from it easily.

If you need to go from one side of the red to the other you should use the tunnels (like a normal person) and step over the railing.

Light red - you can walk across this area but don't dawdle too long. Also it's best to wait until the ball is on the opposite side of the field before walking across, or wait for a time out or substitution. They don't want you near the sensors+cameras in the net that officially record any goals there.

Also - the sideline referees are more important than you. Don't be in the 2 feet closest to the field because the ref runs in those 2 feet.

Summary: Get close to the action but don't get in the way


Shutter Speed: 1/500s or better (1/1000 for a sunny day, 1/500 or 1/800 when the stadium lights are on)

Aperture: f/4 for daylight, f/2.8 at night (or whatever your camera can do)

ISO depends on the time. With the stadium lights you might need ISO 3200 or ISO 6400. On a bright day maybe ISO 200. Just play around with it, don't be afraid of underexposing and fixing it in Lightroom

White balance: Sunny or Cloudy or <I haven't tested Kelvin but probably 4200 ish>


•What you have!

•For mid-day (bright) games:

-Any 75-300mm lens

-Any lens that zooms to about 150mm

-Library rents Canon/Nikon 55-250, 18-135mm

-Bright == aperture doesn’t matter

•Night games

-A faster lens (f/2.8 or f/1.8) will help.

-Canon/Nikon 50mm f/1.8 ($100)

-70-200mm f/2.8 (Expensive)

-I have used Canon 75-300mm f/3.5-5.6 (was challenging)

Other tips

  • Zoom in more than you think you need to

  • Give the players "space to run into". Have the player on one side of the picture or the other, with them running across the frame to the other side. So if the player is running to the right -> Then your picture should be [ -> ] so they have space to run to. It feels more natural

  • Have fun, talk to people! Soccer is a great time to talk to other photographers and ball girls when the ball is out of play or far away from you

  • Don't take pictures when the ball isn't on your half of the field. They won't turn out well. (Unless you have a lens with more reach than 300mm)

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