For golf aficionados, there’s nothing more exciting than golfers playing. The sight of the golf course arouses the thrill and anticipation. This, coupled with digital photography, drone fly overs, and golf course videography can deliver some wonderful photographic opportunities that can be used on your golf course’s website and on social media to help increase memberships and tee times.
However, you need to know that golf course photography is more than just pointing the camera at the person taking a swing and snapping away. It is a little more complicated, and you need a set of skills to be able to do it well. In light of this fact, we present you 10 tips for shooting incredibly amazing golf course images:
1. Prepare Well Beforehand
You should be aware that much of getting premium quality photographs is in the planning. Besides contacting the golf course and getting permission to be there before the crack of dawn, you need to ensure that everything you need for the photography is in place, days before the event.
2. Understand the Rules of the Game
When it comes to shooting any sport, an understanding of the game is not an option it is an absolute must. However, golf is a little more complicated, with things like fourballs, foursomes, dormies, etc. As such, if you don’t understand the rules of golf, there are high chances you won’t know where the picture will happen.
3. Respect Event Code of Conduct
It is imperative that you understand the etiquette of golf. Otherwise, you may find yourself getting in trouble with stewards, golfers, fans, and even fellow photographers. You should know that once the golfer addresses the ball, it is a no noise and no movement zone!
The next time you can shoot is when the golfer hits the ball. While this can make a great frame as the ball leaves the club, getting the timing right to achieve this needs practice. Make sure the camera doesn’t beep as your prime the focus.
4. Know the course
Make sure you know the golf course before you start shooting. Consider taking a walk around the course a day before to check out some great angles. You can as well look for higher vantage points. On some tees, it is possible to lay on the floor some metres behind the player. With a dramatic sky, this can create a great frame as the golfer tees off.
5. Work on the Angle of Your Approach
Golf is an angles game, and one of the most significant features in so many golf photographs is the flag. Consider moving in an arc around the green until you have lined up a picture-perfect background for your flag. Likewise, if the wind is up, you can capture a series of images in order to have at least one shot in which the flag is perfectly waving in the wind.
6. Never Underestimate Height
There’s no greater feeling in golf than playing a beautiful par three from an elevated tee and playing the picture-perfect shot to that pretty green below. It is all laid out for you, and you can see exactly what is waiting for you as well as the result of your shot as it plays out. Taking photos of golf courses from above stirs up those same feelings in the viewer – the course is waiting. To get height, you can climb a hill, strap a ladder onto a golf cart and climb to the top, or get a drone.
7. Consider Getting a Custom Fitting of Your Equipment
Based on what you want to do with your photographs, you might consider getting some new equipment. However, the most important thing is that you have a sufficiently wide lens. Also, a good telephoto can be very useful.
If you’re using a 16-35 mm lens, for instance, on a full-frame DSLR, you can stand near a green and get the green in the background while displaying the magnificence of the surrounding landscape in the background.
Conversely, if you don’t have a good wide-angle lens, there is still a way to capture the scenery. You can try out the iPhone’s panorama function, which is surprisingly good. Alternatively, you can take a series of overlapping images, four or five vertical shots, for example.
If they overlap properly, you can easily merge them in Photoshop with the photomerge function. You just need to remember to run the magnifier tool over the seams to make sure it looks good.
8. Be Wary of the Light
When it comes to golf photography, you need to see the world around you as the lens actually sees it. In fact, there is no point of getting up early if you can’t discern the effect the light is having on all the things around you. Here are some guiding questions:
- What is the texture of the fairway when the sun is low in the sky, coming in at a right angle?
- How does the sun change when it is more behind you?
- Is it okay to include a big sky in your photograph?
When you start discerning these changes, it is like an epiphany. While the actual sunlight may be beautiful, incorporating the sun into your shot can be challenging. This is because the course will become backlit, which normally means the photo will need considerable help in Photoshop.
You should look around and see how the light is transforming the golf course from something dull to something stunning. It is also worth noting that beautiful light does not only occur at sunrise and sunset. In fact, it most often happens when the weather changes.
9. Focus on the Background as Much as the Foreground
You should always focus on setting up shots with an incredible background. For instance, when a golfer hits a shot onto the green, the first thing you need to do is to check the line of the ball to the hole in order to know which way the player will be looking. Then, you need to consider what the background will be like if you take that picture. If it is an unsightly TV tower or hospitality marquee, consider moving right or left by a couple of meters until you’re sure the background is cleaner.
10. Be Creative
At times, the many responsibilities that come with photography can easily bog you down. Making sure you have the right settings, the frustrations of equipment breakdown, getting all the pictures on the shot list, etc. It is not easy to race through the day ensuring you have done everything right.
You should always have fun with it. You don’t have to do the same shot over and over again – be creative and try new things. You can zoom into somebody’s face, capture the moments behind the golfer, or photograph people being silly. Just have fun and see how your golf course photography comes to life.
Many people think that golf is not a dynamic sport to photograph, given the relatively slow action and strict rules when it comes to photographing golf events. However, as a photographer with a drive to explore the possibilities, you will be surprised at how much opportunity there is to capture raw emotion, breath-taking scenery, and athleticism. And these tips will help you bring out the best of your golf course photography.