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Thread: Sports Photography - Need Help!

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    Default Sports Photography - Need Help!

    Took my camera out during my weekly tennis session. Intended to take some neat pictures complete with my tennis kakis at full stretch reaching for tennis balls, but all the pictures turned out very dissappointing. All them images caught my friends AFTER they'd hit their shots. None of them came out with any balls in them.. sports photography is turning to be harder than i though it would be..

    Think i'll try to anticipate their movements and take shots BEFORE they hit their shots. Harder than it sounds.

    Any other tips anyone?

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    Default Re: Sports Photography - Need Help!

    Originally posted by rochkoh
    Took my camera out during my weekly tennis session. Intended to take some neat pictures complete with my tennis kakis at full stretch reaching for tennis balls, but all the pictures turned out very dissappointing. All them images caught my friends AFTER they'd hit their shots. None of them came out with any balls in them.. sports photography is turning to be harder than i though it would be..

    Think i'll try to anticipate their movements and take shots BEFORE they hit their shots. Harder than it sounds.

    Any other tips anyone?

    I suppose you are using a consumer digicam? If so, it's going to be very difficult. The shutter lag and focus lag will make sure you lose moments. The only tips I can offer are:

    1. Anticipate their movements.
    2. Set to manual focus, and set it to the approximate subject distance.


    Regards
    CK

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    Play with Shuttle speed..Panning is cool in sports.

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    Quick truism applicable to everything but particularly to things like sport.

    If you've seen it, you've missed it.

    If you seen the interesting play, and are wondering whether you've nailed the shot, then you haven't. That's why sports photographers usually curse when they see something good because that means they haven't nailed it on the camera.

    Sports is about anticipation, and learning the shutter lag of your camera. Having a quick camera with a shutter lag in the milliseconds helps a lot. But the fact is, the human reaction also has a delay, so even an instantaneous camera would never be able to catch the action as you see it (don't start about video just yet).

    In football the key in getting the ball in the shot with a header for example is to see the players setting themselves up to jump, learning to judge by their expressions and their actions when the ball will enter the frame and when you need to trip your shutter (not in that order). I get a lot of practice and even I don't get it all the time. More like 60%.

    Practice, the more you shoot the better you'll get.

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    Wow! What a flurry of responses.. *quickly taking notes*

    So it's down to:
    1) Knowing the sport. Know when what will take place, whether it's a header, a goal, a tennis serve, a volley, a dunk or a foul
    2) Knowing your equipment. Know their abilities and their limitations, and work around them. I hold a F65, with a 70-300 Sigma 4.5-5.6 APO MARCO Zoom - comparatively slow. Having faster equipment might help. But i'll need to work around that for the time being.
    3) Good anticipation. After you're done studying the sport and getting comfortable with your equipment, pratice, practice, practice and get them timings right. Compenstate for shutter lag and human reaction time.

    Barring the above, think it'll be akin to shooting (almost) blindly.

    4) Having manual focus helps
    5) Panning can create cool shots


    A 60% success rate is good. (Jed, i've seen some of your work, if you're happy with 60%, i'll shut up and shoot/practice more. )


    Excellent stuff!!

    One thing though, some sports are played in less than fantastic lighting - like an indoor basketball game or a tennis match played at night. I'm afraid that using a flash might disturb the players. Slowing down the shutter speed might result in blurred shots. Getting a faster film might help. What else can one do?


    rOCh

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    In sport photography, I guess a good zoom will be good. Like those 10X with Image-Stablizer... unless you can get real close to the athete w/o getting hit.

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    Originally posted by Jed
    Quick truism applicable to everything but particularly to things like sport.

    If you've seen it, you've missed it.

    I get a lot of practice and even I don't get it all the time. More like 60%.

    Practice, the more you shoot the better you'll get.
    Nicely put Jed.

    I'l add Ian's 10 immutable laws of sports photography to the list:

    1) You will always be changing film when the best shot of the day happens.

    2) The battery pack in the camera will always go flat at the wrong time.

    3) The battery pack locking system gremlin will always strike when you need to change battery packs quickly, thus taking 2 mintues to perform a 10 second task.

    4) CF to laptop transfer times are inversely proportional to the urgency of the photographers requirements to obtain a blank CF card.

    5) Your laptop or digital wallet battery pack will always expire 10 minutes before the end of the match with the scores tied and all CF's full.

    6) If using only one camera body the wrong lens will always be fitted for the most important shot of the day.

    7) The pro pack of press 800 you thought you packed at 6.00am will turn out to be provia.

    8) Heavy rain will always occur when you have all of your kit out of the bag.

    9) You will be having a smoke, drink or rummaging in camera bag for film when the shot of the year occurs.

    10) Your CF will be full (or out of film) when the shot of a lifetime occurs; Thus robbing you of every paper and magazine cover in the world and the $$ that goes with it.

    And for Amateurs - Ian's extra 3 laws:

    11) That 7 foot gorilla seated in front of you wil l spend half the game standing up.

    12) You'll really wish you had your monopod when it's sitting at home.

    13) The ticketing agent will always give you seats at the back of the grandstand 100 miles from the action if they know you're a photographer.
    The Ang Moh from Hell
    Professional Photography - many are called, few are chosen!

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    Originally posted by Ian


    Nicely put Jed.

    I'l add Ian's 10 immutable laws of sports photography to the list:

    1) You will always be changing film when the best shot of the day happens.

    2) The battery pack in the camera will always go flat at the wrong time.

    3) The battery pack locking system gremlin will always strike when you need to change battery packs quickly, thus taking 2 mintues to perform a 10 second task.

    4) CF to laptop transfer times are inversely proportional to the urgency of the photographers requirements to obtain a blank CF card.

    5) Your laptop or digital wallet battery pack will always expire 10 minutes before the end of the match with the scores tied and all CF's full.

    6) If using only one camera body the wrong lens will always be fitted for the most important shot of the day.

    7) The pro pack of press 800 you thought you packed at 6.00am will turn out to be provia.

    8) Heavy rain will always occur when you have all of your kit out of the bag.

    9) You will be having a smoke, drink or rummaging in camera bag for film when the shot of the year occurs.

    10) Your CF will be full (or out of film) when the shot of a lifetime occurs; Thus robbing you of every paper and magazine cover in the world and the $$ that goes with it.

    And for Amateurs - Ian's extra 3 laws:

    11) That 7 foot gorilla seated in front of you wil l spend half the game standing up.

    12) You'll really wish you had your monopod when it's sitting at home.

    13) The ticketing agent will always give you seats at the back of the grandstand 100 miles from the action if they know you're a photographer.
    I like this........sounds like life's story....

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    Wahhh..experts here man!! me just know how to shhot!!

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    Time for my own little modifications:

    Originally posted by Ian
    1) You will always be changing film when the best shot of the day happens.

    Or, in this day and age, you will always be reviewing your last great sequence on your 5 million dollar digital whizz bang when the best shot of the day happens.

    2) The battery pack in the camera will always go flat at the wrong time.

    To be honest, never had it happen, but then I always change at the "halfway" point.

    Or, in this day and age, the buffer in the camera will always go full at the wrong time.

    3) The battery pack locking system gremlin will always strike when you need to change battery packs quickly, thus taking 2 mintues to perform a 10 second task.

    Or, in this day and age, the tried and tested finger system will always drop the fiddly compact flash card when you need to change cards quickly, thus taking 2 minutes to perform a 10 second task, and then giving eternal grief that you've misplaced the first CF card somewhere.

    4) CF to laptop transfer times are inversely proportional to the urgency of the photographers requirements to obtain a blank CF card.

    Or, as only seems to happen to me, data network bandwidth is always inversely proportional to the urgency of the photographer's requirements to send pictures to newsdesks.

    5) Your laptop or digital wallet battery pack will always expire 10 minutes before the end of the match with the scores tied and all CF's full.

    Or, in this day and age, as will your mobile phone battery.

    6) If using only one camera body the wrong lens will always be fitted for the most important shot of the day.

    LOL how true.

    Or, as only seems to happen to me, you will fumble around in the cold changing lenses in an operation that is second nature, make the change a second too late, and end up having to have your lens mount replaced once every month or so.

    7) The pro pack of press 800 you thought you packed at 6.00am will turn out to be provia.

    Or, in this day and age, the CF card you thought you'd emptied is actually still full of important pictures. Or, in this day and age, the battery packs you've brought along that you thought were charged are simply, well, not charged.

    8) Heavy rain will always occur when you have all of your kit out of the bag.

    Or, in this day and age, heavy rain will always occur just when you pull the notebook out to start wiring pictures. While, it might be added, every other photographer has a young technie in the wire room ready to send their pics for them.

    9) You will be having a smoke, drink or rummaging in camera bag for film when the shot of the year occurs.

    See above about consulting the tiny little LCD on the back of your whizz bang digital.

    10) Your CF will be full (or out of film) when the shot of a lifetime occurs; Thus robbing you of every paper and magazine cover in the world and the $$ that goes with it.

    Or, as only seems to happen to me, the same would happen, except the bugger next to me would have got the shot of a lifetime, robbing me of the $$ that goes with it.

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    You guys are good ahhhhhhhh

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    Originally posted by siron
    You guys are good ahhhhhhhh
    As said by the Americans and their Pentaon types 'Trust us, we are professionals'
    The Ang Moh from Hell
    Professional Photography - many are called, few are chosen!

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    here's a pretty decent writeup on Sports Photography.

    http://www.photo.net/sports/overview

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    Yikes! More help needed.

    Tooks some photos over the weekend at the Padang. Rugby Schools were having their competition. Set up ma Sigma 70-300 APO Marco, aperture priority (f/4.5-5.6). Got my photos back last night and they all simply can't make it. Terrible! All blurred.

    What did i do wrong? Tried to set it to the widest available aperture setting. Do i need a faster lens? Do i need a faster camera? (e.g. 80-200 f2.8 or an F80/F100/F4/F5?) (i'm using an F65).

    Help!

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    Hi Roch,

    Getting a higher-end body won't help much. F60 was what I used for my earlier shots and I can testify to that. Fastest shutter for F60 is 1/8000 (off the air, can't remember). If your friend can move faster than this speed, he should be trying out for Olympics

    A faster lens might help but if you need a deeper DOF, faster lens won't help much either, will it? Did you handhold at slower than 1/300? Cos that's the rule of thumb for the slowest shutter you can go if you were shooting at the 300mm end handheld.

    Your 70-300 is a good range for sports. I swear by my heavy-duty push-pull 80-200/2.8. And your lens is 1.5X more zoom than mine!

    The film makes a difference though but it's mostly on the underexposing side. If you need speed but half a roll of Velvia loaded, then can bang balls

    Don't worry too much about your gear. IMHO, you're geared up for some good sports shots. More practice, perhaps?

    Perhaps you can refer to previous posts cos I think they're very helpful. I do lots of sports photography and I can tell you Ian's Rules are spot on haha

    Gist is to anticipate. There's a golden rule we adhere to when shooting sports: If you see it, you've missed it.
    Last edited by rayman; 30th April 2002 at 05:07 PM.

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    ARRGGHH.. *pulling hair* a tripod! didn't realise it.

    Didn't use a tripod. It was slightly cloudy. Which didn't help much. And was stretching it at 300mm all the time. *taking notes* slower than 1/300 - use tripod. does that a common rule of thumb apply across shutter speeds? e.g. 100mm, slower than 1/100, use tripod?

    Did that anticipation bit pretty well i think. Almost every shot i took had the folks decently framed, right smack in the thick of the action.. just all blurred.

    Practice, practice, practice..

    thanks rayman.

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    Actually, a tripod does nothing to help you solve anything when shooting sports in terms of shutter speed, you will need a shutter speed higher than 1/300 to freeze your subjection from motion blurr anyway, and I suspect this is your problem.

    However, the best way is to scan and show us a typical sample of your problem. It will then be fairly straightforward to identify if the problem is AF, shutter speed, or something else.

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    scan them pictures? errr.. that's gonna be small problem. i don't have a scanner. *looking around*..

    still trying to find a cheap and resonably good scanning service in Singapore.. don't wanna invest in one. real estate problem too.

    will try. watch this space.

  19. #19
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    Originally posted by rochkoh
    Yikes! More help needed.

    Tooks some photos over the weekend at the Padang. Rugby Schools were having their competition. Set up ma Sigma 70-300 APO Marco, aperture priority (f/4.5-5.6). Got my photos back last night and they all simply can't make it. Terrible! All blurred.

    What did i do wrong? Tried to set it to the widest available aperture setting. Do i need a faster lens? Do i need a faster camera? (e.g. 80-200 f2.8 or an F80/F100/F4/F5?) (i'm using an F65).

    Help!
    In this case, even if you had a pro camera also useless. Cos I guess even with this setup, you also can't reach the F65 top shutter speed (I think is 1/2000).

    I do guess some of these should be able to make thinks better.

    As you never say which end of the lens you r using, I assume the worst case 300mm. At this end, u really need a triport with the weight of the lens and camera, holding and panning to wait of an action shot will tired your hands, and cos it to shake when you press the shutter. At 300mm even the slightest shake cos by pressing the shutter will blur the image, if your shutter speed is slow. Hence use a remote shutter release and mount your camera on triport.

    As the rule of thumb (read it some where), if your lens is at 300mm, your shutter speed need to be at least 1/300 sec in order to make a handheld shot. But since you are taking an action shots, I the shutter speed should be even faster!
    I suggest that you try not to use the 300mm of the lens and get nearer to the field (but safety first ). Try to take shots on actions nearer to you. Take a wider picture of a group chasing/stacking a poor fellow rather the a zoomed picture of a hero himself running towards the pole.

    When taking a photograph in spot events, you need to pan your camera with the object you are taking b4, during and after you press the shutter release. This will show some action of movement in the pictures. (Ever wonder how picture of moving car where the background, road and even the wheels are blured due to their movement but the car body is yet so sharp)

    The lens you had is really too slow in focusing and taking shots of actions like this. But fast tele are too expensive, so I do suggest you buy a faster flim to compensate. The draw back is the photo developed using a fast flim will be grainy, hence can't enlarge the print. Also pray for a very bright sunny day.

    So far this is what I remember, if I recall some more, I will post again.

    Acturally, I'm also learning, these tips are what I get from a very friendly sport photographer that I happen to meet in UK during my University Football match. He was carrying F90 with big a lens (can't remember what) & triport. And I was beside him with my F80 and 28-200. He told me to just take wide angle shots below 80mm cos anything above that will be blur with a 400 ISO film without triport. He even offer to help me take some pictures (with my F80 body but his setup) when I told my friend was in the field playing.

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    Originally posted by Trevor_Tan
    In this case, even if you had a pro camera also useless. Cos I guess even with this setup, you also can't reach the F65 top shutter speed (I think is 1/2000).
    Actually, a pro camera is never useless. Not having one is not the end of the world, but having one will generally always help. And frankly shutter speed is the last thing I would use a pro camera for.

    At this end, u really need a triport with the weight of the lens and camera, holding and panning to wait of an action shot will tired your hands, and cos it to shake when you press the shutter.

    While Trevor's reasoning is good, the weight of a 70-300/4-5.6 class lens is really insubstantial. A tripod just slows you down, even a monopod slows you down unduly. For this lens I'd just hand hold.

    At 300mm even the slightest shake cos by pressing the shutter will blur the image, if your shutter speed is slow.

    This is a moot point because your shutter speed should never be slow to start with.

    Hence use a remote shutter release and mount your camera on triport.

    As above, I'd leave the tripod out of the equation, and a cable release is also pointless because it adds too much fiddliness to the whole thing, your shutter speed needs to be high anyway.

    As the rule of thumb (read it some where), if your lens is at 300mm, your shutter speed need to be at least 1/300 sec in order to make a handheld shot. But since you are taking an action shots, I the shutter speed should be even faster!

    Right. So hence the tripod and cable release are surplus to requirements.

    I suggest that you try not to use the 300mm of the lens and get nearer to the field (but safety first ). Try to take shots on actions nearer to you.

    A wider lens presents the problem of extensive depth of field. Also being closer to the action means it is more a strain on the AF system as the rate of change when focusing at closer distances is greater. With an amateur game the background is likely to be extremely uninteresting, ideally you shoot wide open with as long a lens as possible.

    When taking a photograph in spot events, you need to pan your camera with the object you are taking b4, during and after you press the shutter release. This will show some action of movement in the pictures. (Ever wonder how picture of moving car where the background, road and even the wheels are blured due to their movement but the car body is yet so sharp)

    This really doesn't apply to football, or in fact anything other than motorsport really. Some athletics track events can be shot using this method as well, but only after the "safe" shots have been taken. Panning in athletics is considered an extra shot, once you've got all the prerequisite shots in the bag.

    The lens you had is really too slow in focusing and taking shots of actions like this.

    I don't believe he mentioned specifically which lens he was using, but to be honest, I don't think AF is the major issue here. It's not ideal, but I think the camera should be able to do better that what the original poster was describing.

    He told me to just take wide angle shots below 80mm cos anything above that will be blur with a 400 ISO film without triport.

    Erm, this makes no sense to me at all. It might well be relevant on the day specifically, but as general advice it doesn't hold water at all. If on that day you had a typical English winter afternoon then yes, light is crap, but then the solution really is to use faster film, the amount of motion blur reduction from shooter with a wider lens is only so much.

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