1. Why shoot wide for adventure and action sports photography?
I find there are several reasons I use a wide-angle lens while shooting adventure and action sports photography. By using a wide lens, you can get really close in on the action and capture dynamic angles that put the viewer in a position they would almost never be able to achieve on their own. Also, a lot of times I will want to put both the take off and the landing (along with the sick action of course) all in one photo. By using a wide-angle lens I can do this while also being closer to the action myself, which is often more practical when thinking about having to move around quickly at a busy event. Another advantage of using wide-angle (especially fisheye) lenses is that it can make your subject seem to be jumping quite a bit higher than they actually are. I will use this when shooting smaller jumps to make them more exciting for the viewer and more epic for the athlete as well.
2. Which wide-angle lenses are in your bag?
I currently have a Nikon 16mm fisheye, Nikon 24mm 1.4 prime, and a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8.
3. What’s the biggest challenge with wide-angle lenses?
I would say one of the biggest challenges I have had shooting wide-angle lenses would be safety. With these lenses (again, especially the fisheye) you end up getting much closer than you realize at times. I have been millimeters away from a snowboarder, been almost hit by motorbikes, and even got kicked in the head by a breakdancer once at a Red Bull BC One event. It hurt, but everyone was fine, hahaha.
Also, when shooting with wide-angle lenses you get so much more in your image than you would with a 200mm lens, so you really need to be aware of what you are capturing other than just the action. Is your camera bag in the shot? Are people you don’t want there in the shot?
4. A 200mm lens is usually recommended for shooting football. Why is this different when it comes to adventure and action sports?
Compared to shooting football, practicality wise, it would be impossible to have even one photographer on the pitch shooting up close with a wide-angle lens. They would get in the way and be a danger to themselves and the players they are trying to capture. However, during most adventure or action sports events, take skateboarding for example, it is possible to have a few photographers inside the park shooting right up close to the action. I have shot like this in the past and it can be quite intense, but very fun for sure. You just have to be aware of what’s going on.
Also, I think when shooting a sport like football you want more close up shots of just the player(s) with the ball so a 200mm plus lens is best for cutting out unwanted information and getting a nice dynamic action shot, but for adventure and action sports it can be very important to get the whole environment of the action in the shot. I find the best images give the viewer a real sense of where the action is taking place.
5. Any crucial tips for shooting fisheye?
Have courage to get close to the action, but safety should be your first concern. I find the best fisheye images are ones taken super up close to the action, literally having the camera several centimeters from the subject. However, by getting so close with your body you can be putting yourself and the athlete in unwanted danger, so I often hold the camera with one hand and hold out my arm while keeping my body back and ready to dive out of the way if needed (and I have done this in the snow a couple times). When shooting in this way it can be difficult to properly frame, time, and focus your images though so shooting at a high frame rate while using a continuous focus mode can help you get more usable images as well.
6. You’ve been trying out 360º cameras right?
I have recently picked up a 360 camera and have been enjoying playing with it for the last month or so. So far I have been mainly using it for my InstaStories and things like this, but as I learn better how to use it I think it would be fun to add a few 360 images here and there to my shots taken with my normal camera. With the current apps out there it is actually really easy to edit your images on the fly so I think adding a few 360 images to a stack of event shots is not all that impossible these days. I am excited to see what I can get with my 360 camera in the near future.