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Sports Photography Tips: The Badminton Games

The sporting arena is highly important for every athlete in the world, as well as sports photography enthusiasts who strive to capture every gesture and expression on the courts. 

Badminton: A National Sport

Besides football, badminton is one of the most popular sports in Indonesia, especially with international achievements from athletes like Susi Susanti and Alan Budi Kusuma. Both proudly won gold medals in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. However, not all photographers are allowed in the stadiums. Even with permission, chosen photographers must present ID in order to be situated at courtside and near the athletes.

sports photography with eos-1D X

EOS-1D Mark IV; EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM; f/2.8; 64mm; 1/800 sec; ISO-3200 (Photo Credit by: Jessica Margaretha)

What about the camera equipment? I would recommend a DSLR with EF50mm f/1.8 STM lens, EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens, and medium telephoto lens EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM.  Photographers also need to turn their flash off when taking pictures, so as not to distract the athletes during the game. For optimal lighting, the photographer needs a wide diaphragm lens f/2.8 and high ISO up to 2000 to get proper lighting. To prevent movement blur, high shutter speed up to 400 is required.

Tips and tricks at the badminton court:

Define the location

There are several good spots like the sides of the court, behind billboard, and the position parallel to the umpire. From these locations, photographers are able to shoot every player simultaneously. But you won't be able to directly capture their winning expressions as it is restricted by international law for the athletes to show fists or facial expressions directly to the oppositions. To get their facial expressions, you can take pictures from the middle part of the court side or tribune seats or the side of the athletes as long as the net is not within the frame.

sports photography badminton

EOS-1D Mark IV; EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM; f/2.8; 32mm; 1/800 sec; ISO-3200 (Photo Credit by: Jessica Margaretha)

Photo angles

For serve poses, shoot close up with a 70-200mm lens. If the athlete is a base liner, use 50mm or 35mm. If the athlete is a rally player, use a 70-200mm lens.

Blur effect

To obtain blur effect on billboard while the athlete is doing a serve, you can use lenses with diaphragm opening width 50mm and  f/1.8.

sports photography

EOS-1D Mark IV; EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM; f/2.8; 52mm; 1/800 sec; ISO-3200 (Photo Credit by: Jessica Margaretha)

Don’t panic

The rapid movements of the badminton players and the shuttlecock often make photographers lose their intended focus. Try to enjoy every movement of the game while having your camera ready on the eye. It is recommended for photographers not to press the shutter button until they understand every style and movement from the athletes.

sports photography

EOS-1D Mark IV; EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM; f/3.2; 35mm; 1/800 sec; ISO-3200 (Photo Credit by: Jessica Margaretha)

Don’t forget the shuttlecock and athletes’ expressions

When taking pictures of badminton games, the shuttlecock is an essential element to be within the frame. Winning expressions, to other emotional activities such as sadness, disappointment, or even frustration, are also needed in order the elevate the dynamic of each shot. 

sports photography

EOS-1D Mark IV; EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM; f/2.8; 64mm; 1/800 sec; ISO-3200 (Photo Credit by: Jessica Margaretha)

Also during the game, photographers should not only focus on the court but to the player's surroundings as well. They may frame the supporters, score board details, or the umpire’s and linesman’s expressions. These off-court photos can better add to the photo story. 

sports photography

EOS-1D Mark IV; EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM; f/2.8; 50mm; 1/200 sec; ISO-3200 (Photo Credit by: Jessica Margaretha)

Learn more about sports photography from this article

Find more tips on sports photography from the articles below:

Shooting unpredictable subjects - Fast - moving

Camera FAQ #22: How Do I Make Sports Photographs Look More Dynamic?

Sports – Customizing the AF Function to Capture the Right Moment

Camera FAQ #18: How to Use High-speed Continuous Shooting to Freeze Moments Skilfully

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​Jessica Margaretha

​Jessica Margaretha

Jessica Margaretha, or Jeje, was born in Cirebon 26 January 1989. She works as photojournalist for sports daily TopSkor since 2012. In 2012, one of her works won first place in Indonesia Photo Journalism Awards in sport category and nominated in Adiwarta Awards. The following year, she received grant from Permata Photojournalist Grant. In 2015, she was in third place on Indonesia Photo Journalism Award V (2013-2014) in essay photo category.