Sunday, October 13, 2013

7 tips for shooting Karate

Me and Karate

Going to shoot at fairly large Karate event next weekend, and therefore decided to go try it out at a local club. What that? No, not try out Karate. Try shooting it!

What did I find?

Unlike many other fighting sports, Karate fights move in straight lines. Imagine two boxers or two Kung Fu fighters for that matter. They dance around each other, trying to get a kick or a strike in, here and there. A lot of circular movement. Karate is different; It more linear. Two fighters across from each other, fighting in small 'explosions' towards each other. It is a little like a fencing match. Two people going at each other, directly and in straight lines.
This is an advantage. If you position yourself well, you won't have to move a lot, while shooting a fight. Obviously they move around, but no where near what boxers do!

Any tips?

As this was my first Karate event, I came up with a few starting points that I could use as a base, and then expand on. I'll list them here with a small explanation of the choice.
  • Shutter speed: 1/250 or faster.
    Kicks and punches are fast and moving limbs can get blurry. However, of you want some movement in the photos, so illustrate speed, shoot around 1/150. I shot a lot around 1/500 and still got feet and hand blurs..!
  • Aperture: f/4 or lower.
    You will be in a low-light situation, shooting with fast shutter speeds. You need the light. Shooting around f/4 or f/2.8 will allow you to have a fairly low ISO.
  • ISO around 800.
    Try to keep it low, but you'll probably be at least at ISO 800.
  • Bring a 70-200mm lens.
    You will not be allowed to be between the floor and the judges. Each corner has a judge and there is an invisible wall of 'Do not cross!' between them!
  • Shoot in High Speed bursts
    Spend a little time to learn to read the movements so you have a greater likely hood in knowing when something is going to happen. Then hold down your shutter! Get long bursts of 10-16 images. Spend the time between fights to delete the unusable ones.
  • Loose the flash
    You will probably not be allowed to use a flash. It distracts the fighters, who are very focused while fighting!
  • Bring a knee-pad.
    Shoot at the fighters hip level, so you will need to get down on your knees. First of all, it makes them look bigger and potent! It also makes you think of International Karate+ :)
Take these tips and use them as a starting point, and build on from there!

Now go shoot!

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