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  • Sports photography tips!

    Feel free to stick this guys. I just thought I'd make a small guide/tips thread to help people with sports photograph.

    I'm sure there are plenty of great sports photographers on the forum who can do a better job then me so I thought I'd just make this until someone better wants to do something similar to this

    The best advice I can give you is to set it on Manual mode and to try and get the focus on the subject as much as possible by blurring the background all you can. Also remember that the key is to get an image that has bang on exposure. Nothing worse than a series of action photos shot in burst that are either way too bright or way too dark.

    So play around with the settings depending on the conditions. Set it at what you think will get you the right exposure and take a test shot, then view it and adjust accordingly.

    Depending on the conditions:

    Sunny day:
    Shutter speed: Around 1/1000th-1/3000th (depending on how bright it is)
    Aperture: f/4 (or as low of a number as you can go)
    ISO: 200

    Overcast day:
    Shutter speed: Around 1/500 or 1/640th
    Aperture: f/4 (or as low of a number as you can go)
    ISO: 400 or 500 (depending on how dark it is)

    Darker day/evening:
    Shutter speed: 1/350th or 1/500th
    Aperture: f/4 (or as low of a number as you can go)
    ISO: 640-1000

    White balance auto on all.

    Pretty much the rule I use is to keep my aperture on as low a number as possible and don't change it. The other settings (shutter speed and ISO) depend on the lighting. If there is a lot of light, boost the shutter speed and lower the ISO. The darker it gets the higher your ISO should creep up and your shutter speed go down. So if it's a cloudy day and there's no sun out then try a lower shutter speed and a higher ISO.

    Here are two example shots.. The first I took on a very sunny day the second in the afternoon in low light.

    1) Shutter speed: 1/1250th, f:5, ISO: 200


    2) Shutter speed: 1/640th, f:5, ISO: 1000


    So as you can see, the first one is a lot brighter, more contrast, less noise and better to look at quite frankly. The second has a higher ISO and a lower shutter speed and was shot at around 5:30 in the afternoon and it's darker, there's more noise and over all doesn't look as good as the first.
    Last edited by MRA; 19-07-2010, 02:58 PM.
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  • #2
    Can you please advise, What shooting modes do you use: continuous shooting, AI servo?, Metering modes, single focus point? shoot RAW &JPEG? with a monopod?
    And because the action is fast, do you aim for the body when shooting?
    Shooting modes: I shoot on CH (Continuous high speed shooting) and with continuous auto focus.
    Metering modes/Focus point: Dynamic
    RAW/Jpeg: JPEG always
    Monopod?: I use it for nearly all sports.

    As for shooting fast action, what I find best is to frame your subject in the camera and anticipate where he/she will go. As strange as that sounds a lot of my shots are from instinct. If I believe a player will run a certain angle, I'll set up my shot so that I'm following him and if he does take the correct path and I'm lucky then you simply pan and follow him whilst tapping the shutter (which will be set on continuous focus and high speed shooting). I think it works well when you zoom in and fill the picture with an up close action shot by simply panning and shooting and hoping for the best. Most of sports photographer IMO is luck.

    Also, when you're at a soccer match or an AFL match or a League or Union match, always position yourself in the corners or behind the posts. Sideways shots only work sometimes. What you really want to capture is that nice front on actrion of the player running or kicking or what not.

    Finally, a small tip when shooting something like a free kick, a shot at goal etc. I focus in on the ball after the player places it and use the focus lock to lock in the focus. Then I simply hold the shutter (the cameras I use shoot at 5fps and 8fps so you're bound to get a decent shot) until the player finishes the kick because you've focused on the ball and when the player strikes it, he'll come into that wall of focus.
    Last edited by MRA; 08-11-2010, 08:55 PM.
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    • #3
      Awesome Info here, MRA.

      Thanks for taking the time to write this up mate
      Flying the Canon Flag... Wait, What?

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      • #4
        Hi Matt, thanks for sharing this info, certainly come in handy for us all

        Is there a way we can post a link to this thread from the other thread, so they can come here directly. as l had to search for this one, just a idea.

        Good Job

        Cheers

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        • #5
          Thanks for a very nicely presented tutorial ..

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          • #6
            Thanks for sharing Matt!

            Very handy info indeedy!

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            • #7
              You're welcome guys.
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              • #8
                Enjoy guys.

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                • #9
                  love that last "how to post" really well done!

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                  • #10
                    Thanks Anthony
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                    • #11
                      If people are keen, I may do a tutorial on creative sporting images. That is, using a second body with a small, wide angled lens (even a fisheye).

                      Any thoughts?
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                      • #12
                        Would love to see a tutorial about it..
                        Simon
                        Olympus OM-D, Oly 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
                        Flickr - Your Melbourne Family Portrait Photographer

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                        • #13
                          Just spotted this. Thanks so much for taking the time to write that up Awesome info that I will be putting to good use in the future with my boys sports

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                          • #14
                            I've just found it too.
                            Some really useful info here Matt.

                            Thanks.
                            D7100, SB700. PS CS5, LR 4.4 - Flickr

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                            • #15
                              Thank you for for sharing
                              Last edited by mrsgrumblebum; 05-10-2010, 08:42 AM.

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                              • #16
                                Not a problem guys. I'll be doing a set of videos next year focusing on sports photography.
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                                • #17
                                  Thanks Matt...some tips I could certainly use here.

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                                  • #18
                                    A good read this one, certainly an area i will look to focus more on.

                                    Thanks mate

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                                    • #19
                                      I'm off to the VFL tomorrow. Port Melbourne v Werribee.
                                      Might give some of these tips ago!!
                                      D7100, SB700. PS CS5, LR 4.4 - Flickr

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                                      • #20
                                        Any reason you only shoot in jpeg? just for easier processing? And also do you try and position yourself so that your shooting with the sun ( i know you would have to make do alot of the time) but is that something i should think about? This stuff really interests me.
                                        Last edited by Scottymc; 03-06-2011, 10:08 AM.
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                                        • #21
                                          I shoot jpeg for sports simply because it's quicker and easier when you have 1000 photos to get through at the end of the day. Typically the lighting conditions don't change much during a ball game so as long as you get things pretty right and check again when you change position I find it works okay.
                                          I think pros shoot jpeg so they can quickly edit and upload their images. You see them huddled over their laptops at half time or during other breaks as they get the shots sent in to their employers.
                                          In my experience shooting with your back to the sun will give you better colours and faces that are not in so much shadow. If you shoot into the sun and the ground is wet you will get lots of reflections coming up off the surface and often get a washed out image.
                                          .

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                                          • #22
                                            I think that ius the key to jpg, K1W1. Speed of processing. Especially when you have many, many shots.
                                            D7100, SB700. PS CS5, LR 4.4 - Flickr

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                                            • #23
                                              Originally posted by Scottymc View Post
                                              Any reason you only shoot in jpeg? just for easier processing? And also do you try and position yourself so that your shooting with the sun ( i know you would have to make do alot of the time) but is that something i should think about? This stuff really interests me.
                                              I only shoot jpeg simply for that reason - faster processing. It's a lot easier to go through and you really don't need RAW for sports action photos, especially when you're on a deadline and that kind of thing.

                                              I always try and get the sun to my back or at least as much to my back as possible. I'll change positions a lot during a sport and try different angles so the sun isn't always to my back, but most of the time it is (or to the side). I never shoot into the sun unless I'm looking for an arty wide silhouette shot.
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                                              • #24
                                                Oh darn it! I wish I had read this BEFORE I took photos at my daughter's netball game this morning. All my photos are crap! This is great info - thanks!
                                                {Kate}

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                                                • #25
                                                  Originally posted by k8* View Post
                                                  Oh darn it! I wish I had read this BEFORE I took photos at my daughter's netball game this morning. All my photos are crap! This is great info - thanks!
                                                  I did read it, and they are still crap.
                                                  I have a few good ones. Will post up later today, hopefully.
                                                  D7100, SB700. PS CS5, LR 4.4 - Flickr

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                                                  • #26
                                                    Backlit sport photography tutorial

                                                    Normally, we tend to shoot with the sun at our back to expose our subjects properly in full light, however there is something else we can do that is the complete opposite. The other option we have is to shoot directly into the sun. This is called shooting backlit.

                                                    This means that you need to manually exposure your subject because if you were to shoot in an automatic mode, like aperture priority, it would only recognize the very bright sun and background, making your player a silhouette. NOTE that silhouettes can be very creative and useable so donít be afraid to snap a few before doing what is explained in the next paragraphs.

                                                    Shooting backlit is something that pros will do all day long. The images you can come up with are exceptional and it is personally one of my favorite forms of photography.

                                                    To shoot backlit, you will need to shoot in manual mode. Take an image in aperture priority shooting directly into the sun and focus on your subject to get the basic settings. Iíll tell you now that at f/2.8 or f/4 it will something ridiculous like 1/6000th or 1/8000th of as second but when you review the image, you subject will be completely black.

                                                    Now this is the time you switch to manual mode. Going by your previous image settings you should set it to something like ISO 400, f/4 and 1/2500th of a second. The background should now be overexposed but your subject will be in focus and exposed with a beautiful looking golden glow and a nice even (maybe even dull) looking light over his or their faces/bodies, which is really nice and what you want with backlit photos. The dullness that may occur on the main part of your subject is accentuated by the golden glow of the sun and the bright background. Be sure that you still have your main subject as the key, though. If it's too dull or underexposed then bring your shutter down a dial or two.

                                                    Again please NOTE, these settings are purely an example. On the day you will need to take multiple images and keep checking them to see if youíve got your manual settings correct.\

                                                    Here are a few examples of backlit sports photos that I've taken using this method:



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                                                    • #27
                                                      Nice mate. Ill have to give it a try!.
                                                      Although i do it completely a different way. I usually will use TV mode and just dial up the exposure compensation a few stops. That way if the light changes dramatically The camera compensates. Because its much faster than i am hahaha.
                                                      i usually set the Iso at auto. Tv on. then dial up +1 1/3 ish exposure compensation and have a practice shoot.
                                                      Probably no time to do this in sports photography because you might miss every shot haha!.
                                                      Manual is the way for pro's though!.
                                                      Great work mate. We need more of this stuff on here!
                                                      Its not paranoia if everyone is actually watching you
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                                                      • #28
                                                        I've actually gotten so use to knowing that I need to change the shutter (with this method that's really the only thing you need to change) that I will review the image in a second, see if it's too dark or light and then dial it down or up straight away while looking into the camera and shooting.
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                                                        • #29
                                                          ACTION SHOTS AND CAPTURING THE MOMENT/CAPTURING EDITORIAL SHOTS DURING A GAME

                                                          This is a simple-terms tutorial on how to capture the action and also editorial style images in a rugby league match and the basics can be applied to pretty much any sport like it (rugby union, soccer etc).

                                                          You must use a telephoto or zoom lens of at least 200mm. Any smaller wonít capture much, unless you use a second body in which case you will have a smaller lens on that second body (for capturing a try in the corner for example) but your main camera should be, ideally, a 300 or 400mm f/2.8 or a 70-200mm f/2.8

                                                          Use a monopod even with a smaller lens because of the fact that it helps carry the camera when moving up and down the sideline and it will also stabilise your camera and give you far better control, especially from different positions as I will touch on now. A mono pod isn't just used because the lens is too heavy!

                                                          Donít be scared to shoot from different positions, mainly your knees which is how alot of the pros shoot sport when taking basic action shots, from their knees. Knee pads are a good idea!

                                                          BUT, donít be afraid to get creative. If you have the time, then try and go up into the stands and shoot the action from up higher and try different positions. But that's not something I'll speak about too much. I'm just going to focus on the basics.

                                                          A quick point to start with is how to capture editorial style images during a match. Often during a goal line drop out, or a scrum, or after a run or tackle, a player will suck in some deep ones, pop their hands on their hips or on their head. This provides a great opportunity to get in nice and tight on their faces/heads and take a shot of them resting for use as a main editorial image. *SEE EXAMPLE IMAGE: 7*


                                                          This is great for newspapers, magazines or simply to show some basic emotion. Magazines especially will pay big bucks for these images to use in feature articles etc, if you're shooting a pro event.

                                                          Now we move on to some settings talk.

                                                          To freeze the action you will need to have a shutter speed no lower than 1/500th of a second but even that, for me, is way too slow. So aim for a shutter speed of no less than 1/1000th. But if need be, 1/500th can still capture action.

                                                          To achieve this fast shutter speed you need to let as much light into the camera as possible. I would recommend shooting on aperture priority or manual mode.

                                                          See the following for a quick and rough guide on settings.

                                                          Depending on the conditions;

                                                          Sunny day:
                                                          Shutter speed: Around 1/2500-1/4000th (depending on how bright it is)
                                                          Aperture: f/4 (or as low of a number as you can go)
                                                          ISO: 200-400

                                                          Overcast day:
                                                          Shutter speed: Around 1/1000-1500th
                                                          Aperture: f/2.8 (or as low of a number as you can go)
                                                          ISO: 500-800 (depending on how dark it is)

                                                          Darker day/evening:
                                                          Shutter speed: 1/500-1/800th
                                                          Aperture: f/2.8 (or as low of a number as you can go)
                                                          ISO: 800-3000 (or however much your camera can handle without looking so grainy that the photo is unusable.

                                                          Just to touch briefly on high ISO - Never sacrifice shutter speed to keep your ISO low. Grain is not a huge deal, unless of course it's so extreme the photo is unusable. But high levels of noise can be softened in post processing. Photoshop has some fantastic noise deducting plugins, like Noise-Ninja for example. It's crucial to capture the action, so if you need to use a higher ISO to stay above that 1/500th then use it!

                                                          White balance auto on all is what I find works best. Although switching up the white balance isnít a bad idea at times. I find that if Iím not shooting on auto, I will use the 'cloudy' setting, which will give your shots a nice orange glow. It works well when shooting backlit (something I will get to soon) on a bright sunny day.

                                                          Shooting modes: Shoot on CH (Continuous high speed shooting) and with continuous auto focus. This is to allow as many frames per second as your camera can handle. Bursting and capturing a bunch of images in quick succession is sometimes the key to getting that magic shot.

                                                          Metering modes/Focus point: Dynamic

                                                          RAW/Jpeg: JPEG always

                                                          As I go into the next section after explaining some settings Iím going to focus on uneven lighting, which will occur during a sunny day. On a cloudy day lighting is even most of the time due to there not being any shadows cast by sun, due to the even lighting caused by the clouds.

                                                          Often on a sunny day you will have players running into shadows all day long. So itís important to get into a position that will allow you to expose your image correctly.

                                                          The first of two main options we have is shooting with the sun at your back. This is the most common as it will mean that, as the sun is behind you, what you are photographing in front of you will also be lit by the sun ensuring an accurate and even photo of the subject.
                                                          *SEE EXAMPLE IMAGE: 8*


                                                          When you are in this position, you can them compose your shots, hold half down to focus on your subject and fire away. ALWAYS remember to review your shots on the run to see if you need to change anything whether it is the aperture, ISO or your position.

                                                          The other option we have is to shoot directly into the sun. This is called shooting backlit.

                                                          This means that you need to manually exposure your subject because if you were to shoot in an automatic mode, like aperture priority, it would only recognise the very bright sun and background, making your player a silhouette. NOTE that silhouettes can be very creative and usable so donít be afraid to snap a few before doing what is explained in the next paragraphs.

                                                          Shooting backlit is something that pros will do all day long. The images you can come up with are exceptional and it is personally one of my favourite forms of photography.

                                                          To shoot backlit, you will need to shoot in manual mode. Take an image in aperture priority to get the basic settings. Iíll tell you now that at f/2.8 or f/4 it will something ridiculous like 1/6000th or 1/8000th of as second but when you review the image, you subject will be completely black.
                                                          *SEE EXAMPLE IMAGE: 9*


                                                          Now this is the time you switch to manual mode. Going by your previous image settings you should set it to something like ISO 400, f/4 and 1/2500th of a second. The background should now be overexposed and fairly bright but your subject will be in focus and exposed with a beautiful looking golden glow and a nice even amount of light over his or hers faces/bodies, which is really nice and what you want with backlit photos.
                                                          *SEE EXAMPLE IMAGE: 10*


                                                          Again please NOTE, these settings are purely an example. On the day you will need to take multiple images and keep checking them to see if youíve got your manual settings correct and an exposed image.

                                                          Vary between vertical and horizontal shots as well. Attach the mono-pod to your tripod ring on your lens (all lenses from a 70-200mm up to the big 600mm will have a tripod ring). You can unscrew the knob on the tripod collar/ring so that you can rotate your camera and lens between horizontal and vertical for the shots while the mono-pod stays stable.

                                                          One of the final tips, if you're shooting an event and need player names, is to get the team lists at half time by asking an official, the score table or a media manager, and either take a photo of it or a copy of it and then shoot the players numbers on their uniforms to identify them after youíve taken a photo.

                                                          This ensures that when you or someone else is going through the shots and they see one they like, they can go to the next shot in the series and see itís number 15 for example they can then go to the team list and see the name of number 15 and identify them, or you can do that before you give the photos to a client or newspaper or magazine. Rarely will anyone anywhere print a photo of someone without having their name.

                                                          Here's another small tip. SHOOT THE HELL OUT OF THE MATCHES! Just shoot and shoot. Donít worry if you have 2000 images at the end of the day as thatís a good thing. The more chance of more usable shots. In this day and age we can shoot as many shots as we can

                                                          Anticipation is also pretty crucial but if you have a fair understanding of the game then you wonít have much of a problem. I would say that it's important to know the sport you are taking photos of, but it's not an absolute necessity. If you do know the sport well, you will know where to position yourself and you will know, for example, when a player might pass short or wide pass, offload etc. In rugby league when I shoot I know that on the last tackle the half back will be back and ready to receive the ball and kick and again, up the other end of the field the fullback or winger will be ready to receive the ball and take a run.

                                                          Thatís basically it for now! If you have a read of all of this and feel it has helped then print it off and take it with you on the day you go to an event. Iím very sure it will come in extremely handy If you can use some of these tips and have fun then I have no doubt you will shoot some awesome photos and make yourself a 50% better sports photographer by the end of the day.

                                                          Good luck
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                                                          • #30
                                                            Awesome tips Matt. So many things I never thought of

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