Take Table Tennis Photos Like a Pro. Photo Historian Mal Anderson
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Photography Tips for Shooting Table Tennis Moments

Take Table Tennis Photos Like a Pro

(by Steve Hopkins)

In this week’s PongNow interview, USATT’s Photo Historian Mal Anderson shared some tips on how to take the perfect table tennis photo.  A two minute segment of that interview is posted below (click here for the full PongNow interview ).  This article collects tips and tricks from Mal Anderson, Truong Tu, and Steve Hopkins.  We look forward to seeing some of your photos.  Check out the Bowmar Sports Facebook Page this week as we post a photo contest.

PRO TIP: WATCH THE BALL NOT THE PLAYER

Mal Anderson’s Pro Tip is to watch the ball, not the player.  He sets up so that he has a direct line to where the other player is and he snaps the shot when the ball reaches the other side (relying on the fact that the player will be where the ball is).  He takes five shots and moves on to a new location.  His signature position would be to the left of the table focused on the forehand corner for a right-handed player, or offset to the right of the table with a direct line to the player’s backhand corner but to wait until the player steps around to hit a forehand from the backhand corner.  Mal uses a Nikon F3 Camera with an 85mm Lens.

PRO TIP: HIT THE SHUTTER AN INSTANT BEFORE THE MOMENT YOU WANT TO CAPTURE

Truong Tu is a player and photographer who works for Butterfly.  Truong Pro Tip is to hit the shutter an instant before the moment you want to capture.  For those who use digital cameras, take a wide angle and crop the photo later in photo editor.  Be creative – try different shooting angles for variance of perspective (from behind the player, on the side of the table, lower than table level, etc).  When possible, use MANUAL instead of AUTOMATIC to maximize your control over the quality of the photo.  Make sure you understand the relationship between shutter speed – aperture – ISO.  A 1/500th shutter speed is necessary to freeze the sport of table tennis and a small F-stop number is needed to allow more light in the camera.  ISO can help increase the amount of light into the camera but the higher the ISO, the more noise (“noise” in digital photography is like the graininess one sees in film).  Truong sets the focus mode to Continuously Focus so that the object will be focused even as it moves.  He also uses burst mode which takes multiple photos with one click.  He recommends sometimes including spectators, coaches, or other players.  And take a lot of photos, as you will improve as you practice. Truong uses a Nikon D750 Camera with NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G.

PRO TIP: USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE GAME AS AN AID

Steve Hopkins started taking table tennis photos about 10 years ago while working for USATT.  Advice for taking good photos on a budget – a fixed 85 mm (1.8) lens.   Steve’s Pro Tip is to use your knowledge of the game as an aid – if you understand the tactics of the competitors, and the pattern of the points, and factor in the score, you should be able to anticipate when the most athletic moments will occur.  This is also good strategy for capturing the celebrations and fist pumps.  Steve has used Manual Focus on most of his best shots – staking out a position focused on a particular zone and waiting for the player to enter that zone.  Steve uses a Cannon Rebel XTI and a fixed 85 mm lens.

Some great photos from Mal Anderson:

Some great photos from Truong Tu:

Lily ZhangTom FengRachel Sung

Some great photos from Steve Hopkins:

 

Mal Anderson: How He Takes the Perfect Table Tennis Photo

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