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Follow the Action, Score Some Shots: Tips for Better Soccer Photography

The action was pretty fantastic on Saturday. The movement up and down the field, goalkeepers diving, and the midfield action was captivating.

Whatcom Community College hosted Shoreline Community College in women’s and men’s soccer on Saturday afternoon October 4, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. Shoreline defeated both teams. Whatcom woman lost 2 to 0, and the men lost via a last-minute goal 1 to 0.

Up & Over:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Whatcom Community College freshman forward Canyon Silliman (18) goes above Shoreline Community College jufreshman defensiveman Ryan Anderson (12) during the first half on Orca Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, 2014. The visiting Shoreline Dolphins defeated the WCC Orcas 1 to 0 by a last minute second half goal.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – WCC freshman forward Canyon Silliman (18) goes above SCC freshmen defensive man Ryan Anderson (12) during the first half on Orca Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, 2014. The visiting Shoreline Dolphins defeated the WCC Orcas 1 to 0 by a last-minute second half goal.

Photographing soccer can be fun and challenging. There may be a lot of action, but if you don’t pay attention, you could easily miss the game winning play or score. Having patience and anticipating moments will also help you get better shots.

A Good Defense … :

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Shoreline Community College defensive man Andres Lepe (14), left, defends against WCC forward Conlon Kiffney during the second half on Orca Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, 2014. Shoreline defeated Whatcom 1 to 0 with a last minute goal.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Shoreline Community College defensive man Andres Lepe (14), left, steals the ball from WCC forward Conlon Kiffney during the second half on Orca Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, 2014. Shoreline defeated Whatcom 1 to 0 with a last-minute goal.

Here’s a few tips to help you.

Observe the players – Watch while you shoot how the players from opposing teams pair up. Especially at the goals. Your best action will come from the two as they battle for the ball.

Placement – Where you decide to shoot from is important. You’ll capture the best facial expressions when opposing team players battle for the ball as they are coming towards you. Staying midfield the entire game will get you some good action, but spend 10 minutes midfield observing which team is the stronger.

Obvious Foul:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Whatcom Community College forward Ashley Hughes (10) battles with Shoreline Community College defensiveman Selene Aguila (7) and Mackenzie Bolton (14)  as she heads towards the goal during the first half on Orca Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Whatcom Community College forward Ashley Hughes (10) battles with Shoreline Community College defensive man Selene Aguila (7) and Mackenzie Bolton (14) as she heads towards the goal. SCC defeated WCC 2-0

Head to the Goal – Once you figure out who is the stronger team, head to the goal where they will be scoring. Stay to the left or right about 15 feet. This gives you good action as the opposing team approaches the goal as well as puts you in position for corner kicks.

Corner Kicks – Get yourself between the corner where the ball will be kicked from and the goal. That way the players are looking towards the ball as it approaches. This gives you good facial expressions as the teams battle for the ball.

Front of Goal Battle:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Shoreline Community College defensiveman Konstantin Reutov (5) and WCC midfielder Emile Diffley (7) battle for the ball during the second half on Orca Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, 2014. Shoreline defeated Whatcom 1 to 0 with a last minute goal.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – SCC defensive man Konstantin Reutov (5) and WCC midfielder Emile Diffley (7) battle for the ball during the second half. These two paired up most of the game.

Be Fluid – Be prepared to move as the game progresses. For example, the dominate team may be overcome by smart play from the other team. You may have to switch goals partway through the half.

Offense vs Defense – Spend some time shooting both. From midfield you can get the defense as they protect their goal. The offense can be shot from the goal as they attempts to score.

Header:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  SCC forward Hayley Warren (15), left, goes over WCC defensiveman Emily Russell (15) during the first half. SCC defeated WCC with 2 second half goals 2 to 0.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – SCC forward Hayley Warren (15), left, goes over WCC defensive man Emily Russell (15) during the first half. SCC defeated WCC with 2 second half goals 2 to 0.

Don’t worry about missing shots – Seriously, getting stressed over shots you missed is just a waste of energy. Be patient. You’ll get your shots. Like being on the wrong end of the field when one of the teams scores. It happens.

Stay on your knees – Keeping low will make it easier to get faces as they’re looking down at the ball. Plus, if you happen to get a player falling, it’ll be easier to keep focused on the face. Yes, people fall pretty hard. Even I did when I played.

Defensive Move:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - SCC defensiveman Konstantin Reutov (5) boots the ball from WCC forward Tomas Alvarado during the second half at Orcas Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Shoreline Dolphins defeated the WCC Orcas 1 to 0 with a last minute goal.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – SCC defensiveman Konstantin Reutov (5) boots the ball from WCC forward Tomas Alvarado during the second half at Orcas Field at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Shoreline Dolphins defeated the WCC Orcas 1 to 0 with a last minute goal.

Lenses – Long glass isn’t truly essential. But a 70-210 is enough if you stay near the goals and have patience. You can even use that lens as you photograph from midfield and wait for the action to come to you. Some photographers even mount remote cameras with wide-angle lenses in the goals. But for the most part, a 70-210 is works well.

Keep extra cards handy – This may seem like a no brainer, but I’ve actually run into photographers that have to delete images because they filled their cards. As they do so, they miss shots. Also, change them before they are full. The more images on a card, the slower the camera writes to it as it has to find space.

The biggest tip i can give you, though, is simply:

Don’t Rely On The Motor Drive. ANTICIPATE the peak moment and begin shooting just before the peak then follow through.

Remember, the action is fast. If you rely on the quick shutter to capture that moment when the ball is on a player’s head, then you are more than likely to miss it. Anticipate that moment and start firing when the moment begins. It takes a lot of practice, but once you learn the shutter lag of your camera (the time the shutter trips once you press the button) and practice, you’ll begin getting those shots.

Practice. Practice. Practice.  As I’ve said before Photography is Not a Spectator Sport.”

For more Shoreline Community College vs Whatcom Community College soccer photos, visit my gallery WCC hosts SCC in Woman’s & Men’s Soccer

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul is a Seattle based photojournalist specializing in news, sports, feature, travel, and portraiture. He also photographs weddings and portraits in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County.

He is available for assignments in the Pacific Northwest. Contact him at paulconradphotography@gmail.com or (206) 450-8632 for availability.

Blaine at Meridian High School Varsity Soccer

Meridian High School varsity boys hosted Blaine High School in an extremely close match. The Trojans and Wolverines fought a battle until the last 30 seconds of the game.

Protecting the Goal:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

It was a tight the entire game. Meridian would bring the ball down for a shot. Blaine would recover and run it down to the other end attempting a score. Back and forth, back and forth.

Battle for the Ball:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

Each team had several shot which ricocheted off the cross-bar or from an upright. The goalkeepers on each team made some spectacular saves.

On the Mark:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

Blocking a Shot: 

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

Shot on Goal:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

It wasn’t until the last 30 seconds anyone scored.

A struggle:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

Another Shot at Goal:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

Blaine ran up the left side, the Meridian goalkeeper made a fatal mistake and ran towards the winger. The winger passed to the center.

Blocking a Kick:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Woverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last minute of the second half.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Blaine High School boys take on Meridian during varsity soccer action on Thursday afternoon April 17, 2014, at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. The visiting Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 with a single goal in the last-minute of the second half.

With the Meridian goalkeeper out charging the winter, the goal was left unprotected and Blaine scored. Only 30 seconds left in the game.

The Wolverines defeated the Trojans 1-0 in a hard-fought battle.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Sedro-Wooley at Meridian HS soccer

The past few days I have been busy shooting Meridian High School sports. Soccer, baseball, and golf were all on the agenda.

But first, I’m going to show a few soccer photos from a few weeks ago I failed to upload. Sometimes I forget the social media aspects of photography. I love to shoot and document peoples lives.

Heads Up!!

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

Landscapes, scenics, urban, macro, and such are fine genres of photography, but I prefer sports, photojournalism, portraiture, and street. There’s more a challenge to me capturing fleeting moments.

Yes, I have been more disappointed than satisfied with what I get, but that keeps me pushing harder, learning more, trying new angles, and stretching myself to keep improving.

Up For Grabs:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

I’m still sorta old school in that I prefer to “stop & pop” and not “spray & pray.” Read the game, find a good position to shoot from which has a clean background, and anticipate moments.

Stopping the Attack:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

“Stop & Pop” is taking the time to learn what’s going on. It relies on your knowledge of the sport and players, anticipation by following the action, a cool head, and prefocusing. You get better images. Most sports photographers learn that the hard way.

Sliding Tackle:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

I think this technique harkens to the days of film and early digital. Back a few years to 2002 when cameras were barely breaking the 5fps limit. You had to learn the game, learn patience, and learn the limit of your camera.

Saving a Score:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

My first digital camera was the Nikon D1. Slow, very slow. About 4fps. Yes, two frames per second. But not as bad as the NC2000E. That was 1 frame per 2 seconds. Seriously, it was super slow. And you had to wait a long time if the buffer filled.

Chest Stop:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

My second was the D1H. Not much faster at 5fps but to get it you had to have fully charged batteries. Then I bought a D200. That was a whopping 5fps. Although they were rated at that, the cameras very rarely pulled it. I think mine averaged 4, and sometimes even 3fps on bad days.

Pulling a Foul:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

With that being said, I am one who believes that it’s not the camera but the photographer who makes great photos.

Practice is what matters. And a lot of practice. Not how fast your camera shoot, how big of a lens you have, how many frames you shoot, or how many card you fill.

No Harm, No Foul:
© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley High School boys take on Meridian on Friday afternoon Mar. 28, 2014. The visiting Cubs defeated the Trojans 2-1.

What matters is that you capture good storytelling moments, you keep pushing yourself, keep learning.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:

Follow Me on Google+

Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest