Sports Photography

with Angela McMullen

Don’t Worry About the Noise

Shooting amateur sports often means shooting in less than optimal conditions, especially at indoor venues. To compensate for lowlight, photographers must raise the ISO on their cameras to capture the action, and this results in noisy images or images with a lot of grain. However, a noisy sports image is not necessarily a bad image (and in fact, noise sometimes gives an action shot more punch and grittiness), and you should think hard before using that noise reduction slider in Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw.


Reducing the noise in an image also reduces its clarity by

blurring. Try it yourself. When processing a RAW image taken with a high ISO (2500 or greater), magnify the image 200-percent and then reduce the noise using the Noise Reduction slider. See thedifference? Your image has less noise but also less detail.


So, when processing your sports and action shots, ask yourself

which you would rather have: a great action shot with a little noise

or a blurred image with little detail? And remember, I’m talking

about noise here not focus. Still not convinced? Look at this image I shot at a Whitby Wolves’ hockey game. It’s noisy, but is still a good action shot.



Photography by Angela McMullen