My first attempt at sports photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 223rem, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. 223rem

    223rem Guest


    The pics taken at dusk with my 20D, in auto mode, meaning long exposure
    times and blur. I was totally unprepared for the shoot, but even if I had been,
    I wouldnt have been able to use anything else but auto or the sports mode
    (can anyone actually shoot in manual mode in situations like that?)

    I also used the wide end of the zoom lens, because I wanted to make sure I got
    the cats in the image, and that explains the small image size of the subjects.

    Any tips for doing better next time?

    223rem, Feb 8, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  2. Shutter priority and up the ISO as needed to get proper exposure.
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), Feb 9, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  3. 223rem

    223rem Guest

    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!) wrote:

    It makes sense. You would think that the sports mode
    would do the above automatically, but it doesnt.
    None of the automatic modes adjust the ISO for you,
    in fact. Weird.
    223rem, Feb 9, 2006
  4. No offense, but now that you've moved up to a dslr, give up on the "modes."
    If you don't wish to shoot manual then use aperture priority when you want
    to control DOF and shutter priority when you wish to control shutter speed.
    Within each of these ISO is then the next knob if needed to get proper
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), Feb 9, 2006
  5. Even autoiso will tend towards lower shutter speeds, so best you learn to
    take control.
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), Feb 9, 2006
  6. 223rem

    223rem Guest

    I shoot in manual, but I'm slow. The cat chase was over in a few seconds.
    No way to capture that in manual mode.
    223rem, Feb 9, 2006
  7. In that situation you need to flip to shutter priority and take what you
    get in terms of exposure as there's no time to up the iso. Best if you're
    shooting raw. But still likely to underexpose in many situations which will
    amplify the noise in the shadows when you lighten them up. You'll need
    some type of noise filtering tool to help then if you want to get rid of
    the noise, such as Neat Image, Noise Ninja, or that built in to a number of
    image editing programs. I'd say try the demos of the first two. i
    personally use NIPro which besides being a stand alone program is also a
    plugin for my image editor.
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), Feb 9, 2006
  8. 223rem

    Pat Guest

    Ed's pretty much right, but I'm not sure that shooting RAW would
    dramatically help that type of picture.

    Keep away from the "modes", especially the sports mode. They generally
    set the ISO to 800. Sometimes (most times) you might need to go

    Put in into Shutter Priority and keep your shutter speed up to at least
    1/100. Go to at LEAST 1/200 in most circumstances. Outside, go to
    1/1000 if you can but you might want to knock your ISO to 400 for most
    stuff but 800 for real sports.

    The go get yourself the flash with the highest guide number you can
    afford. At dusk, you can set your ISO down to the 400 range, go to
    manual mode, put the shutter to your highest flash syn, adjust your
    aperature to whatever you want for the DOP, and let the flash give you
    enough fill to stop the action and make things look good. However for
    sports, dusk is the hardest time because there isn't enough light to
    shoot without a flash but there is enough light that you will get a
    little blur at 1/200, so go to 2nd curtain sync.
    Pat, Feb 9, 2006
  9. 223rem

    223rem Guest

    Thanks, very specific advice. Can a pro photographer be fast enough
    to do the above in one or two seconds? I now I cant--so the auto modes
    still have their use for capturing stuff that happens unexpectedly
    and is over quickly.
    223rem, Feb 9, 2006
  10. 223rem

    Pat Guest

    No, I think that as you play around you will find that there is little
    use for the auto modes. They are just a pre-selected setup that is
    supposed to work for a certain circumstance and really doesn't. Try
    this for a while.

    Set your ISO to either 400 or 800 depending on what you like. Inside
    sports with a flash, I generally use ISO 800. Inside without a flash,
    ISO 1600 or 3200. It's noisey, but you might have to accept that.
    Outside sports, with 400 or 800. For "fast sports", use 800 even

    Now set your camera to Shutter Priority Mode. Leave it there until you
    have a reason to change it. This is now your "normal mode". For
    football and baseball, use 1/200 or higher. Outside 1/500 or 1/800 is
    a good start. I sometimes go to 1/1000 but seldom above that. When
    you go to an event, set up your camera and there's no need to change
    anything unless you don't like what you are seeing. So look at the
    first few and make adjustments.

    Things to be careful of: first is shutter lag. Digitals are not as
    quick as film cameras, so there's a lag between when you press the
    shutter and it takes the image. It isn't much, but for those who
    converted from film, its annoying. So, if you are taking sports, you
    have to shoot in advance of what you want to take a picture of. You
    have to anticipate. Also, if you are shooting with a flash, shut off
    your burst mode because you have to wait for it to recycle.

    As for what a professional photographer can do and how quickly he/she
    can do it, it would amaze you. To change the shutter speed "on the
    fly" is incredibly fast. You spin the wheel. To change the ISO, is
    maybe 2 or 3 seconds. But you can teach yourself to do that. Just
    start going over the controls with your eyes closed. Where are the
    controls? Learn to find them without looking.

    For now, use shutter priority mode. Switch to Aperature Priority if
    you need to keep a DOF or have another reason to, but for now ignore
    it. Use manual for backlit subjects and for sports by flash. Ignore
    everything else for now.

    The more you do, the more you'll learn.

    For now, go to every youth sporting event you can find and shoot a
    hundred pictures or so. My kids are heavy into sports and I shoot
    about 100-150 images most weeks. It keeps them (and their friends)
    motivated (they spend their whole studyhalls looking at pictures).
    Take a look at if you want. There's nothing
    really special there, just the unedited pictures for the local kids and
    their parents. Definately not "high art".
    Pat, Feb 9, 2006
  11. 223rem

    223rem Guest

    I liked the boxing pictures (I'm a big boxing fan)!

    I have 3 young indoor-outdoor cats who love to chase and wrestle
    each other. I believe they're much faster and unpredictable than
    humans. Any tips? :)
    223rem, Feb 9, 2006
  12. 223rem

    Pat Guest

    Sedate the cats.

    When people shoot butterflies and other insects, they put them in the
    refridgerator to cool them off so the don't fly away. Maybe the same
    thing will work with the cats. (just joking).

    Why not take a catnip ball and throw it to them so they case it. Then
    they'll stay together and (hopefully) near the ball.

    Boxing is intersting because you have the ropes to deal with. For the
    first boxing (outdoors), I just dealt with it because I just had my
    camera with me. For the second, I brought along my "wedding bracket"
    that holds the flash up higher. It screws into the bottom of the
    camera and extends off the left side. It then goes up, has a hinge,
    and then comes back over the top of the camera so you can have your
    flash over your lens, but up about 6 inches. When you switch from
    landscape mode to portrait, you swing the flash (on the hinge) and it
    pivots to being above the camera (while in portrait mode). So
    basically the flash is handing upside down way to the left if you leave
    it in that position and go back to landscape mode.. I used that so
    that when I looked throught the viewfinder, my flash wasn't right at
    rope-level -- it was beside me.
    Pat, Feb 9, 2006
  13. 223rem

    Pat Guest

    Glad you liked them. My favorite boxing photo is 12 30 Boxing 692.htm
    I printed it in B&W and it looks so "old school".

    I find basketball the hardest because of the bouncing ball and the
    This is horrible because of the bounce of the ball: 01 21 Basketball 026.htm

    This is how you want them to look, but I was still a fraction of a
    second late 01 21 Basketball 004.htm

    This is what happens when you don't wait for the flash to recycle. 01 21 Basketball 045.htm

    These were all shot at 1/200, f8 if I remember correctly, and in manual

    If you want to see something that's weird, look above the door on: 01 21 Basketball 032.htm
    See the white lines. It's a reflection off of something.

    Here's another thing to watch out for (see if can find the problem): 01 19 Basketball 064.htm

    See the shadows above the kids on the wall? That's because I was past
    the range of my flash. The flat (and shiny) floor will concentrate the
    light towards the kids as a reflection. Here, the light reflected off
    of the floor was brighter than the direct light from the flash. I
    never miss the opportunity to srew up a shot.

    The good news is that the parents and the kids have pretty low
    expectations. I only shoot them because few of the other parents have
    the equipment it takes to get shots of their kids, so I do it for them.
    Pat, Feb 9, 2006
  14. The problem with shutter priority mode is that when the light
    is too low, and the camera can't open up any more stops, then
    the picture is underexposed. I know a number of wildlife
    photographers and all who I have talked about this issue
    use aperture priority most of the time, than manual for
    specific tough lighting conditions. With aperture priority, you
    control depth of field and shutter speed with one finger
    on the camera, so you can adjust for a given situation very
    quickly. For action shots, the faster the speed the better,
    typically faster than 1/1000 second unless you want some
    blur to show motion. People tend to shoot wide open and use
    lenses that are sharp wide open.

    Wildlife action examples (shutter and aperture data are
    with each image):

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Feb 9, 2006
  15. 223rem

    223rem Guest

    So you're saying that you use maximum aperture to obtain
    minimal exposure time. But that means: 1. a very good lens
    2. a very shallow DOF.
    Awesome stuff. But didnt you use shutter priority in those
    bird shots?
    223rem, Feb 9, 2006
  16. 223rem

    Pat Guest

    I agree. If you are sneaking around the woods in low light, you want
    to open your aperature up and let the shutter speed be whatever it is.

    But for a beginner (and one interested in sports) he has to start
    somewhere and get off of the automatic modes (which is the most
    important thing). That's why I recommended using shutter priority. I
    didn't want to see him dropping down to shutter speeds below which he
    could hold. Eventually he will learn its limits and try aperature
    priority and manual, but I didn't want to confuse him too much.

    By the way, great pictures. Esp. loved the humming bird and a sand
    hill crane sequence. Very well done.
    Pat, Feb 9, 2006
  17. 223rem

    Pat Guest

    There is not "right" or "wrong", just preferences and opinions.

    If you use aperature priority, you set you f-stop to what you want.
    Sometimes it is all the way open with a shallow DOF and sometimes you
    want a big DOF and you set it to a very small aperature. It is where
    you want to fix you aperature and let your speed change. The
    disadvantage is that your shutter speed can fall very low and you get
    blurs. But for some things it is very good.

    If you use shutter priority, you set the speed and let the aperature
    take care of itself. This is good for many circumstances but when you
    are low light, you can have your lens all of the way open and still not
    get a good exposure because the shutter speed won't drop. It also
    doesn't allow you to control your DOF. I think for general use and
    starting out, this is easier. This is also the preferred mode for
    using a flash.

    Two exceptions. If you are really worried about DOF or any other
    aspect, switch over to Manual and make your adjustments with full
    control. This also applies to backlit subjects.

    Some "old" lenses are totally manual and don't have autofocus and the
    camera can't control the aperature. If you are using one of them, You
    are forced to Aperature Priority. With them, you set your f-stop by
    hand and let the camera's meter change the shutter speed.
    Pat, Feb 9, 2006
  18. 223rem

    secheese Guest

    Get down to your subject's level and fill the frame.
    secheese, Feb 10, 2006
  19. Yes. But with wildlife, like sports, you often want your subject
    isolated from cluttered backgrounds, especially when it is
    only slightly out of focus. So wide aperture is generally
    what you want. Another key is: focus on the eyes,
    especially when trying to capture one or two players.

    You want detail and depth of field in wider angle images with
    many people. Of course all photo composition rules can be broken ;-)
    Thanks. None were with shutter priority.
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Feb 10, 2006
  20. Thanks.
    But I don't understand why you think shutter priority is simpler
    than aperture priority. With shutter priority, you also need
    to watch if the aperture + shutter is in range or in an
    underexposed condition. If you are concerned about DOF,
    the problem is there with both aperture and shutter priority.

    A good photographer must learn the balance of aperture,
    shutter speed and ISO. They must also learn when the meter
    might be thrown off and when they need to compensate.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Feb 10, 2006
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.