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Sports Traditional Sports, as well as Dance, and other organized activites which involve human bodies in motion.

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Old August 13th, 2006, 08:17 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Default Sports Basics

Here are some basics for shooting sports. I wrote this for soccer, but it applies more or less to any action sport:

1. Shoot tight.

2. Crop tighter.

3. Subject to occasional intentional rule-breaking exceptions, what you're shooting for is face/ball/action/contact. No particular order, and the more the better, but with very few exceptions, a shot without a face and the ball goes in the trash (assuming, of course, that the sport employs a ball). Expressions matter a lot.


Face/Ball/Action/Contact!


CAVEAT on the ball "rule:" I've been shooting a fair amount of lacrosse lately and realized that this guideline doesn't apply to sports like LAX and American football where some players are likely to go the entire game without touching the ball or in the case of football linesmen, for example, even getting anywhere near it. For sports and players like these, you can more or less forget the ball and just go for face/action/contact. (I'm not sure how this applies to baseball, where mostly nothing happens at all. I guess there you're just going for face.)

4. Watch your backgrounds, both while shooting and in editing. Shooting big apertures wide open will help to blow out distracting backgrounds to a pleasing blur. (And I've been known to move garbage cans physically, not digitally to get them out of my backgrounds. Check the shot above for a negative example.)

5. Unless you're going for the (very) occasional intentional effect, keep your horizon level. Fix it in the crop if necessary.

6. Don't be afraid to cut off body parts, but don't cut them off at the joint. I.e., don't cut off a leg at the ankle or the knee, and don't cut off an arm at the elbow or the wrist. It's something subliminal about the way the brain processes the image that makes a shot cropped that way vaguely disturbing and off-putting.

7. For the smaller players, get down low and shoot from their level. Some people use knee pads (available cheap from Home Depot) for this purpose. My knees aren't so good, so I use a wonderful little folding three-legged camp stool that swivels.

8. Pay some attention to the overall "design" of your image the way the various visual elements interact. This isn't high art we're engaged in here, but a little art goes a long way to make a better image. (E.g., remember the "rule of thirds," and think about diagonals in your image...)

9. Shooting RAW will leave you more latitude to recover from exposure and WB excursions, and often gives you better ability to handle high contrast situations like bright overhead sun and white uniforms without blowing the highlights, or to recover from unintentional (or intentional, see settings discussion below) underexposure. (A good RAW workflow can be just as fast and efficient as jpg, but that's another topic entirely.)

10. Flash sucks (but sometimes there's no choice, like shooting American football in dark high school endzones...)

11. If you can, use a monopod.

12. Don't be afraid to trade ISO for shutter speed. A sharp noisy image is better than a clean blurry one.

13. Shoot a lot. Then shoot some more.

14. Only show the good ones.

15. What you consider a good one will change over time.

16. Shoot tight.


Camera settings (some but not all Canon-specific):

For outdoor sports I shoot in Av (Canon-speak for aperture-priority), evaluative, lens more or less wide open, i.e. typically f/2.8 outdoors and f/2 inside. I always shoot wide open, or close to it, not only for the higher shutter speeds it affords but moreso because I like an out of focus background that isolates the subject better. (But note that if you have the light, stopping down a bit can give you a little more depth of field for multiple player shots and, especially using converters or cheaper lenses, improve sharpness somewhat. And if your background is far enough away from your subject, it can still be adequately out of focus that way.)

I shoot at the lowest ISO that will give me plenty of shutter speed, and the more shutter speed the better. High shutter speed not only helps to stop action but also makes up somewhat for my sloppy camera handling skills.

In broad daylight that might translate to starting out at something like ISO 200, 1/3200 at f/2.8 or f/3.2. As the light falls I'll start easing up the ISO to keep the shutter speed at least up around 1/2500 or so until maybe I hit ISO 800. Then I'll let the shutter speed float on down till it gets to maybe 1/1000 or 1/1500 or so, then to keep it there I'll start ratcheting up the ISO again in steps till it hits 1600. Then I'll let the shutter speed continue to float down till I'm at 1/400. And *then* I'll switch to manual mode, 1/400 @ f/2.8, because I've found that for me, 1/400 is the absolute minimum to get reasonable stopped action. 1/320 or less and it really starts to fall apart.

At that point, depending on the stadium lighting I'll either stay at 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 1600 or if it's really dark (and it often is), with the 1D Mark II or Mark II N or 1DsII, I'll go all the way to ISO 3200. I wouldn't do that with the original 1D, but with the Mark II's and other later Canon bodies, ISO 3200 is really very usable, especially if you crank up the black point in the RAW conversion (and I should add that I shoot RAW exclusively and process with C1) to block up the shadows and mask the noise. And I'll underexpose and push the conversion rather than going below 1/400. Again a sharp noisy shot is better than a blurry cleaner one.

This all probably sounds complicated but it's not. Really all you do is keep an eye on your shutter speed and crank up the ISO as necessary to keep it where you want it. In other words, exposure becomes a dynamic combination not just of shutter speed and aperture, but of those two things and ISO. This is one of the many great things about digital as opposed to shooting film. In fact, for me it's really just shutter speed and ISO, since it's so rare for me to shoot at anything other than close to max aperture.

For indoor sports go manual. In the cavelike HS gyms where I shoot, that usually means ISO 3200, 1/400 at f/2. Here again, I will underexpose rather than go below 1/400. (Of course, if you have the luxury of being able to strobe your venue, that's the best option.)

[NOTE: I really need to update this a bit for the new cameras. Shooting with the 1D Mark IV I'm going to ISO 12800 in some cases stadiums that are so dark that in the past I would just pack up and watch the match. Moreover, Auto ISO on the new bodies really works and can simplify to a large degree the processes I've laid out above. Another thing to be aware of is that the higher MP sensors seem to be somewhat more sensitive to camera motion; 1/500 is my new minimum shutter speed, as opposed to 1/400 with the Mark II. More to come when I get the chance and inclination.]

As for focus, try center point only. I've experimented with CF17-1 and -2 focus point expansion on the 1-series Mark I and II bodies and have gone back to CF17-0 (no expansion) except for the 1DsII, for which I use CF17-2. I find auto focus point selection useful only for birds in flight. Use AI servo of course, and CF4-3 to activate AF with the * button. That takes a little getting used to, but once you do it makes it a lot easier to lead the AF before hitting the shutter, and to keep tracking the subject with AF on while hitting the shutter periodically. It also allows you to effectively use AI servo as one-shot to lock focus and recompose, just by focusing with * and then releasing it to lock focus, e.g., for reaction shots of the bench. (CF4-3 gives you a new AE reading for each frame in a burst. This is useful when you're tracking players in and out of sun and shadow. CF4-1 locks AE at the half shutter press, so every frame in a burst gets the same exposure. Some people prefer that; I don't.)

IMPORTANT: Note that on all Canon DSLR's, in AI servo the first frame in a burst is release-priority, i.e., the shutter will fire even if focus is not acquired. Subsequent frames in the burst are focus-priority. The result is you will not infrequently find that the first frame in a sequence is OOF, and subsequent frames sharp. The best cure for this is leading the AF and giving it a chance to catch up to the subject before you fire the shutter, and also always firing at least two or three frames, as you have a better chance of the later ones being in focus. [CAVEAT: The 1D Mark III has additional options in this regard. Not having a Mark III, I'm not in a position to comment on them. Note also that the CF numbers and combinations have changed in the Mark III and 40D and subsequent bodies, so you'll have to do a little translating on that with respect to some of the other advice in this post.]


Some clarification on what I mean when I say "Shoot (and crop) tight." This obviously doesn't always mean cutting off arms and legs and ears. Context can be important to tell the shot's story. What is does mean is to try to leave out everything that's not important to that story and especially to eliminate anything that distracts from it, and for gosh sake don't stop shooting just because the play gets too close to get the full bodies in the frame.


Shoot Tight!


One last thought by way of encouragement shooting sports is hard, and it stays hard. I've shot about a million frames of sports over the last few years, and I've learned some things, and I'm getting better at it, but I still have a long way to go. That's a large part of what makes it so much fun. There's always something new to learn, and you can always get better, but you can still really enjoy yourself along the way, and if you do it a lot you'll inevitably stumble onto some very satisfying results.

As far as keeper ratio is concerned, don't let it get you down, and rejoice in the fact that you're shooting digital so your marginal cost is zero. I thought I had done pretty well when I got my keeper ratio up to a fairly constant 20% or so. After a while it went down, though, to a pretty consistent 10% mostly because I got pickier about what I consider a keeper. More recently still it's started creeping back up, because I've begun to adopt a slightly more deliberate shooting style that tends to bring me home with about half the number of frames I used to shoot at a given event but I bet it's still not as high as 20%.

All this is just what I've learned from experience. That doesn't mean it's all right. Discussion encouraged.

Nill
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Last edited by Nill Toulme; January 23rd, 2011 at 01:19 PM.
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Old August 13th, 2006, 09:33 AM
Roger Lambert Roger Lambert is offline
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I've done only a little sport shooting. Some boxing in a dark municipal auditorium, some basketball in a medium to poorly-lit high school gym, and an afternoon of horse racing on an overcast day outdoors.

I think every bit of your advice is right on the money, based on my experience! :)

Thank you for such an informative article, especially the custom function section - that was very useful. :)

My only question would be on your opinion on the utility of remotely-triggered high-powered strobe flashes for indoor sports. When I did my boxing shoot - my first ever sports shooting, I was insanely jealous of a fellow who had a very powerful strobe stationed high up in the balcony. Every time he pressed the shutter, the whole auditorium turned white for an instant. Jealousy began to turn into something darker by evening's end. :D

(I was lucky to get 1/250 shutter at f/1.8 f/1.4 with 50mm lens at ISO 1600 or 3200 with my Canon 20D.)

Have you any recommendations as far as these set ups go? Thanks. :)

Best regards,

Roger Lambert
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Old August 13th, 2006, 10:12 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Heh... my only reaction to that is to share your insane jealousy. Maybe someday. ;-)

Nill
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Last edited by Nill Toulme; August 13th, 2006 at 10:19 AM.
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Old August 13th, 2006, 10:09 PM
Jim Simmons Jim Simmons is offline
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Hi Nill,

Don't know if my first post went through so I'm sending another lol.

Been reading your post for over a year, and you taught me a great deal. Been shooting a lot of my son soccer game for the last 2 years. I have the 1d Mark II and the lens I use the most is the 70mm-200mm f/2.8 IS. Next lens on my list is the 400mm f/2.8. As for C.fn-13 which do you prefer? My son is going to be starting his freshman year in a couple of days. I plan on shooting alot of his freshman games and posting a lot of pictues on my website for the kids to see. No personal information will be on my website just the pictures of the soccer games. Can I legally do this or do I have to get permission from there parents....

Thank you.

Jimmy
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Old August 14th, 2006, 06:03 AM
Jon P. Ferguson Jon P. Ferguson is offline
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Default In general

Jim - Your profile doesn't say what country you are living in. If you are in the U.S. you are probably OK if you do not offer them for sale to the public.

You definately want to avoid anything embarassing or negative in nature.
If you have the approval of the organization or parent groups, either in writing or witnessed verbally, so much the better.

This may seem kind of silly in a way but.....a complaint from a parent can be the end of it all.
You are covered by basic copyright laws, however it also gives you responsibility for what you do with the images.
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Old August 14th, 2006, 06:28 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Jon has it right, Jim. I understand this has gotten pretty dicey in the UK, and even in the US it varies somewhat from locale to locale. I've heard they've gotten pretty touchy in Texas, for example, and a few states have laws that might be interpreted to prohibit or inhibit it. So proceed with caution.

It's absolutely critical not to include any kids' names on your site. It's equally critical to respond promptly and cheerfully to any request to remove shots. (I've been doing this for five years, have over 45,000 shots online, and have only received one such request.)

The next threshold is when you're taking money for it. You can get away with doing for free what you can't necessarily get away with doing for money. If you intend to charge anything, you should get the sponsoring organization's permission before proceeding. Even if you're not, it's preferable to have that permission if you can get it.

Nill
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Old August 14th, 2006, 07:35 AM
Gary Ayala Gary Ayala is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nill Toulme
As far as keeper ratio is concerned, don't let it get you down, and revel in the fact that you're shooting digital so your marginal cost is zero. I thought I had done pretty well when I got my keeper ratio up to a fairly constant 20% or so. It's since gone down, though, to a pretty consistent 10% mostly because I've gotten pickier about what I consider a keeper. ;-)

All this is just what I've learned from experience. That doesn't mean it's all right. Discussion encouraged.

Nill
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You have a higher "keeper" rate than moi. When I was doing news (back in the film-only days) ... my keeper rate was about 1:36 for sports. But for news that's all you need really. Now maybe 5% (fallling standards or maybe autofocus accounts for the increase).

One thing to add about shooting sports is one doesn't need a long baseball bat lenses to shoot most sports. Field access is ... mmmmhh ... more important than a long lens for sports like soccer, football, basketball, swimming. One has to develop patience and allow the action to run towards you, filling the frame. So don't let the "equipment thing" keep you from trying sports. Remember that shooting sports is a test one one's phtographic mettle and sharpens one's reflexs for the more mundane shots.

Gary
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Old August 14th, 2006, 08:34 AM
Roger Lambert Roger Lambert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Ayala
Field access is ... mmmmhh ... more important than a long lens for sports
So true for boxing!

I found that having the 20D and 24-70 equipped with hood around my neck, plus bag on my shoulder whilst walking up to ringside like I belonged there, produced no questions from anyone. :D

Of course, this was only the Golden Gloves State finals and security was not too tight, but the strategy certainly worked perfectly, and produced the opportunity for much better photographs than could be had from the balconies. :)
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Old August 14th, 2006, 08:42 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Points well taken, Gary. It's worth bearing in mind though that "keeper rate" has a lot to do with one's target audience too. When you're shooting for the paper, you really only need a few good shots, no? And preferably all of big plays, if not the winning goal, or at least of the player of the game doing something interesting. Those shots are by definition harder to get.

OTOH, shooting like I mostly do for the kids, parents, yearbook, and what have you, my definition of a "keeper" is undoubtedly broader in that it includes shots like this (which I just happened to get a print order for today):


Now there's nothing the least bit newsworthy about that shot unless it happens to be in an article about that particular kid being named state Player of the Year or something like that. But it's what the kids and parents like to see, in addition to the much more interesting (to me at least) shots like this:


In fact, on average, the former shot might be more likely to draw a print order because parents, understandably, like shots of just their own kid (although more than a few times I've had them buy shots of some other player because their own kid was in the corner of the frame somewhere, and a few times even when their kid's back is to the camera and all you can see is the number!).

That all adds up to shooting a lot more shots when you're doing what I do. I'll typically shoot 1000+ frames at any given game, and usually post about 100 of them to my website. That's where the 10% figure comes from.

I should add that even in this context, what constitutes a "keeper" can vary. That first shot, for example, might not have made the cut if it was of a team that I shoot regularly, and where I might end up the season with 100 shots of that player. But that was a team that I could only be sure of shooting once, so the standard was a little looser.

Nill
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Old August 14th, 2006, 08:44 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Roger but with a 400 f/2.8 on a monopod you can go pretty much anywhere, and people get out of your way. ;-)

Nill
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Old August 14th, 2006, 08:54 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Jim CF13 I can never remember what that one does, let's see...

Ah, number of AF points and spot metering. Short answer is that it almost doesn't matter because I almost always use the center AF point. I think I keep it set to -1 because that makes it quicker to select a different AF point, but I do that so seldom that I honestly don't remember.

The important thing to understand about that CF is that it only limits the number of AF points that are available for you to manually select. It does not limit the number of points the camera can use if you're set for 45-point auto selection. So it's really just a convenience factor you only have to scroll around thru 11 or 9 points instead of all 45 when you're picking one.

The other thing it does is change what point (center or active) the AE is linked to in spot metering not something that comes into play in sports shooting very often.

Nill
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Old August 14th, 2006, 09:02 AM
Brian Hamfeldt Brian Hamfeldt is offline
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Background - I shoot events - large ones with up to 8,000 kids per day - selling to parents onsite.

On keeper rate...

As Nill said, there are always variables to what is considered a keeper. When shooting for publication, there are VERY few keepers to present to an editor. However, when shooting for parents at youth sports - what we think is a lousy technical caputure or expression, is more than likely considered GOLD to a parent.

The other main keys to increasing your keeper rate are:
- know your gear
- know the sport
By knowing all about those two things will allow you to tune your shooting to the sport. Knowing if you camera can capture the moment in time you intend. All cameras have limitations, and its knowing how to apply those limitations to your sport and even your shooting style that will improve a keeper rate as far as the technical aspects apply. Also, knowing these things will allow one to know when NOT to shoot - so you spend less time chimping/reviewing shots that should never have been taken.

For me and my shooting style/requirements, I agree with all of Nills recommendations, with the exceptions fo 5,9, and 14

14 - show only the good ones - is generally explained above - depends on what you are shooting for. Parents will easily pass by a couple of bad shots - assuming the rest (90+%) are good to great and organized to their child or team.

9- RAW - depends on your workflow and capabilities. When shooting 100,000 images per day (yes, per day), I don't have the time to process RAW. I need images in front of customers in a matter of seconds, not minutes, not hours. I shoot jpg and shoot to sell - this involves most of the other aspects of Nills suggestions.

5 - content - I think Nills order is right on: "face/ball/action/contact" and in that order. And the face being more important than ball, action and contact combined. However, in team sports with a jersey or helmet - I can sell just about every back of the jersey/helmet shot I take. Same reason sports junkies hang a jersey on their wall of their favorite player with the back of the jersey showing.

For me in shooting youth sports - it not about shooting the sport. It capturing images that show the youth playing the sport. Whether its cheer to baseball, the emotion of the game will capture more sentiment in a mother than having to get bat on ball.

And the only other thing to add to Nill's suggestions:

- shoot tight


Hammy.
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Old August 14th, 2006, 09:08 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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All great points Hammy. Selling on-site is definitely a different ballgame.

Nill
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Old August 14th, 2006, 09:52 AM
Gary Ayala Gary Ayala is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Simmons
Hi Nill,

Don't know if my first post went through so I'm sending another lol.

Been reading your post for over a year, and you taught me a great deal. Been shooting a lot of my son soccer game for the last 2 years. I have the 1d Mark II and the lens I use the most is the 70mm-200mm f/2.8 IS. Next lens on my list is the 400mm f/2.8. As for C.fn-13 which do you prefer? My son is going to be starting his freshman year in a couple of days. I plan on shooting alot of his freshman games and posting a lot of pictues on my website for the kids to see. No personal information will be on my website just the pictures of the soccer games. Can I legally do this or do I have to get permission from there parents....

Thank you.

Jimmy
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Jim-

I am Not an attorney, but, (the big but), I've been doing this for years as both a profession and a now a hobbyist. I have pixs of my daughter's competitive swimming meets and my g/f son's soccer matchs on my photosite. Never had any complaints or problems. I allow the parents to download any image for free. In the US anything in public is fair game (regardless of all the horror stories you hear). There are some exceptions, i.e. "the expectation of privacy" is the big one (example, if a person has a warerobe malfunction and runs down an alley or hides in a doorway one cannot chase and photograph them). Most everything else is falls under your freedom of expression & free speech rights and laws of mass communication (yes, your right to 'public photography' also applies to children). These public images cannot be used commercially unless one has the approval of the person photographed and non-commercially the image cannot be used to misrepresent a place, event or person. I cannot speak to selling images, as I have never sold an image.

Once again ... You do not need the consent of those photographed in a public arena if you do not use that image commercially. (I think you can sell prints as 'art' without consent but not for advertising.) I am assuming that you want the kids and parents to see the images ... so:

1) Tell the Coach your intent and he can grant you field access;
2) You probably have a boosters club, let the parents know what you are doing and where they can view the images;
3) Make up some cards with email and site address.
4) Don't get in the way of "professional" media guys/gals ... this is their bread and butter; and
5) Have a good time (you will have less 'good' opportunity to watch your son play but you will feel the game better from the field).

Gary

PS- There are some free legal sites that you can google for more info.
G
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Last edited by Gary Ayala; August 14th, 2006 at 10:21 AM.
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Old August 14th, 2006, 10:16 AM
Jim Simmons Jim Simmons is offline
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Thank you Gary I will take your advise....

Jimmy
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Old August 14th, 2006, 10:41 AM
Jim Simmons Jim Simmons is offline
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Thank you Joh.

Jimmy
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Old August 14th, 2006, 10:42 AM
Jim Simmons Jim Simmons is offline
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Thank you Nill.

Jimmy
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Old August 14th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Jon P. Ferguson Jon P. Ferguson is offline
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This is an excellent example of what a good thread can be. Straightforward sound experience offered as advice. When you get similar First-Person responses from a few members, there is generally more than a little 'lessons learned' info included.

Might be the beginning of good Sticky....

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Old October 10th, 2008, 07:22 AM
Darryl Woods Sr Darryl Woods Sr is offline
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Ok, this going to sound very dumb because I'm a newbie but I have a Canon XTi and was using the Simga 70-200 f2.8 lens and for the life I could not set my camera up to use those setiings

AV Mode
shooting at F2.8 or 3.2
Center Focus Point

1/3200 - was not happening not matter what I tried, is this a setting that is possible on a crop body???

So to sound dumb but if I don't ask I won't learn.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 08:01 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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That's going to depend on your ISO and the ambient light. You're only going to see a shutter speed like 1/3200 in full bright sunlight, or in decent light if you crank up your ISO.

The goal is not to achieve a shutter speed that high, but to achieve an adequate shutter speed to stop the action. Ideally, that's somewhere north of 1/1000, and in no event is it lower, IMO, than 1/400.

Let me know if that does not compute.

Nill
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Old October 10th, 2008, 08:38 AM
Darryl Woods Sr Darryl Woods Sr is offline
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Well it does compute what your saying, it just doesn't seem to happening on my camera. The best shutter speed I was able to get was 125 which we both know aint cutting it.

The light bulb has just come on.....just tried it and getting those settings. I guess the lighting was so poor I can't get those numbers, will try more manual this week thanks so much your help. I no longer feel like I should be on the short bus!

Last edited by Darryl Woods Sr; October 10th, 2008 at 12:06 PM.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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What were you shooting, and where?

Nill
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Old October 10th, 2008, 02:18 PM
Darryl Woods Sr Darryl Woods Sr is offline
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Son's football in Kansas City, I got some what I would call decent shots but not stellar shots.

I have free reign to move all around the field so I have shots from all sides and have the GOOD light areas.

After I sat here I went to manual mode and was about to get those settings on my camera, can't wait until next friday to see what I actually get.

Games starts at 7 so it's just starting to get dark so it will be a challenge.

Again thanks for all the info and help.

Darryl
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Old June 4th, 2010, 01:52 AM
Zaahir Essa Zaahir Essa is offline
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I'll be shooting motorsport this weekend for the first time with my Nikon D60 (shot one event before with film, eek!). I'm pretty excited and have been trying to prepare as much as possible. It's going to be at a fairly large track, and that means big lenses...which I definitely won't have any time soon! I'll make do with what I have.

It may turn out to be disastrous, as I'm getting a couple of "new" lenses arriving on the day (old AIS manual focus), so I'll be guessing exposure with every shot with no experience of using the lenses either.

I also bought a monopod the other day, and my experimental shots with that were poor. Which is kind of the point of this post. There is a decent write-up on monopod technique which newbies should find useful:

http://www.dpfwiw.com/c-2000z/monopod/index.htm

Adios
Z
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  #25  
Old June 4th, 2010, 11:57 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Zaahir,

Good luck on your shoot. You need a lens with Is and a wide aperture so you can have a fast shutter. for monopod look at Really Right Stuff. great explanations, perfect gear and descriptions of heads for monopods. that's the safest route!

Asher
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  #26  
Old April 27th, 2013, 08:15 AM
Nick Pudar Nick Pudar is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Hi,

I'm new to the forum, so this is extremely late to the conversation...
...but another important point about sports shooting is to know the game. The more you know about the rules, the flow of the game, and what the athletes are capable of doing, the more likely you will be able to anticipate the great shot.

I have a fun sports story to share. Several years ago, a friend's freshman daughter had made the cheerleading team at the major University in our state. My friend asked me to bring my camera and big lens to the first home game, and take pictures of her first cheerleading action. I brought my 70-200mm lens with a 1.4x extender, thinking that I would be able to get reasonable pictures from wherever we'd be in the stadium. It turned out that our seats were in the nose-bleed section of the bleachers on the opposite side of where the cheerleaders were positioned. The mom was distraught and grabbed my arm and said that she would take me closer. I had my doubts, since seating was at capacity (75,000) and security would not likely let me closer. But I had a rabid mom with a cheerleader daughter for security to contend with. And maybe the big looking lens lent some credibility too, because amazingly, she talked us past three security guards -- onto the field! I got some great shots, and my friend was very happy.

Best regards,
Nick
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