Suggestions for filming and photographing your player from the sidelines

Using the digital zoom on your phone will end up with a blurry mess like this. We’ve got some tips to make you a better sideline photographer, though.

Using the digital zoom on your phone will end up with a blurry mess like this. We’ve got some tips to make you a better sideline photographer, though.

There isn't a parent alive who hasn't taken a picture of their kid from the sidelines. We've all done it. But there also isn't a parent alive who hasn't taken a picture that didn't look like a bunch of tiny little people running around way in the distance.

Don't feel bad. Sports photography is hard — even with these expensive computers that fit in our pockets. There are, however, some things that can make getting a good shot a little easier.

Here are some tips we'd suggest for photographing a game from the sidelines:

Don't be afraid to use your feet — in other words, move!

The No. 1 mistake we all make when using the camera on a phone is standing still. Our phones all have fixed lenses. So if the action is on the other side of the field, you're going to want to get up and move closer to it.

Don't block another parent's view, of course. But get up and move as close as you can without being in the way, or getting onto the field.

Really try not to use the digital zoom

You know how you can pinch the screen to zoom in on the field? Try not to do that, if you can at all avoid it. That's called digital zoom, and all it's doing is blowing up the pixels while lowering the resolution of the image itself. In other words, it'll make everything closer, but it'll also make it look worse. And depending on how old your phone is, it'll look a LOT worse.

But if you are going to zoom in, do so as little as possible. See that photo at the top of this post? That's what you DON'T want.

And if you've got a phone that has a second (or third!) lens with a greater magnification, use it!

A 60mm Moment lens (and the case you’ll need to use it) brings all the action closer to you.

A 60mm Moment lens (and the case you’ll need to use it) brings all the action closer to you.

Or, use a Moment lens and case

Professional cameras have multiple lenses for multiple purposes. Some are wide-angle. Some are telephoto. Some maybe even go fish-eye on everything.

Your phone can have these lenses, too. There's a company called Moment that makes little lenses that mount onto a special case. They've got lenses that get you a little closer. They've got lenses that get you a lot closer. They've got fish-eye lenses. And they're super easy to swap out on the fly.

The lenses are small enough to fit into your pocket, so they don't have to be hanging off your phone the whole game. Once you start using them, they'll open up a whole new world of smartphone photography.

Get a stabilizing gimbal

If video is more your thing, we'd highly recommend a gimbal. It's a handheld stabilizer that works far better than the optical image stabilization (that's OIS, for short) on your phone.

Little motors inside keep things balanced no matter which way you turn things. (Or how much coffee you had that morning.) It's an incredible little tool that makes your video shot from a phone far more watchable.

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Phil Nickinson