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03/14/2010 01:22:39 AM · #1
Well so did I! So over 4 years ago I sent a small portfolio to the local paper and was hired on as a freelancer. Some four years later I've covered just about every sport you could imagine. Some I didn't know really were sports until after I arrived. I've shot nearly 200,000 sports images, occasionally I even get a good one. I've spent a lot of money on equipment, a lot of time reading and studying some of the great Sports photographers(some are even members here), and most importantly I've spent a lot of time behind the camera finding out what works and what doesn't work. So with all of that in mind you have to be asking yourself, what they hell does any of that mean to me? Well here it is, I'm going to put this thread here and offer pointers and advice to any and all who think my time behind the camera can help them.

Am I a great sports photographer? no! Am I a famous sports photographer? NO! So why am I offering to help? Well because I owe a lot of my success in this crazy game to a few of the members here. There is no sign up sheet, there is no commitment from you to be made. I'll post a few images from my sports assignments each week, you do the same. I'll make some comments and suggestions about what you did right, and what I feel could be done different to make it a better image. I'll also offer some insight into gear, settings, positioning, AF pointers as well. Is your kid going to play soccer/baseball/track/rugby(OK not rugby I've never shot that)? want some basic help on setting up your camera and lens to give you a starting point? Ask here and I'll offer what I can. I hope other sports photographers will join in and do the same.

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Matt

03/14/2010 01:32:13 AM · #2
Cool idea Matt. I have kiddos in my family that do Football, Wrestling, Cheerleading, etc. Would love pointers as to where to even get started.

I will post some wrestling one's that I took... and boy do they need work!

Thanks!!
03/14/2010 01:40:09 AM · #3
Yes real cool. In the course of my work I often have to take sports pictures and I do battle. So thank you. What a great place this is.
03/14/2010 04:29:28 AM · #4
Yes I do, and (currently) No I can't...

I think I may well take advantage of this excellent opportunity you are opening up... Thanks either way!
03/14/2010 04:42:09 AM · #5
Matt, I would thoroughly appreciate gaining any knowledge, skills and help you are willing to give.
03/14/2010 06:00:15 AM · #6
First question, do you shoot in JPEG (max FPS) or RAW for quality? Also in what mode do you shoot?
03/14/2010 06:24:07 AM · #7
I notice most of your shots are shot at ISO's my camera doesn't even have, and with almost sickeningly low noise...

I can shoot pretty OKish up to ISO 2000, but past that and noise is just too ugly for me what suggestions do you have?

I guess those of us who have off-camera flash setups could use that to get the shot (with perhaps spectacular results if done right...).

So, did you always use that killer hardware to shoot sports, or did you once have some junk like me? If so, how did you overcome that?

-Cheers

Message edited by author 2010-03-15 00:00:00.
03/14/2010 08:14:10 AM · #8
Originally posted by coryboehne:

Sooo, IYHO ;), for sports, how well is my 50D really going to do? I notice most of your shots are shot at ISO's my camera doesn't even have, and with almost sickeningly low noise...

I can shoot pretty OKish up to ISO 2000, but past that and noise is just too ugly for me (and it's not great at 2k either)..

I'm sure that I'm really in a pretty good situation compared to quite a few DPC'ers when it comes to high ISO performance, so for all of us who haven't yet sprung for that sexyness you call a 1D Mark IV, what suggestions do you have?

I guess those of us who have off-camera flash setups could use that to get the shot (with perhaps spectacular results if done right...).

So, did you always use that killer hardware to shoot sports, or did you once have some junk like me? If so, how did you overcome that? If not, well, then I guess I need to come up with $5k...


if high iso is your only concern, a used d90 is very good. but it is nikon.
03/14/2010 08:31:38 AM · #9
Thanks Again!

-Cheers :)



Message edited by author 2010-03-14 23:59:17.
03/14/2010 08:43:33 AM · #10
As I understand from reading specs, the EOS Rebel T2i is getting great reviews even compared to the 7D, and might make a great sports- 2end camera
03/14/2010 10:29:12 AM · #11
I have a question. Do you use a flash at a basketball game or do they look down on that in the gyms?
03/14/2010 10:41:29 AM · #12
Originally posted by alans_world:

First question, do you shoot in JPEG (max FPS) or RAW for quality? Also in what mode do you shoot?


For sports I normally shoot in JPEG highest quality, set a custom white balance and almost always shoot in Manual mode, especially indoors where the lighting is consistant. If I'm shooting outside field sports I will occasionally go to AV(APerture priority) mode if I'm dealing with high sun and dark shadow areas within the field. I always use Alservo(continuous) focus mode and my FPS setting never changes. However I rarely shoot a burst of more then 8 frames on a single play.

Matt
03/14/2010 10:52:51 AM · #13
Originally posted by coryboehne:

Sooo, IYHO ;), for sports, how well is my 50D really going to do? I notice most of your shots are shot at ISO's my camera doesn't even have, and with almost sickeningly low noise...

I can shoot pretty OKish up to ISO 2000, but past that and noise is just too ugly for me (and it's not great at 2k either)..

I'm sure that I'm really in a pretty good situation compared to quite a few DPC'ers when it comes to high ISO performance, so for all of us who haven't yet sprung for that sexyness you call a 1D Mark IV, what suggestions do you have?

I guess those of us who have off-camera flash setups could use that to get the shot (with perhaps spectacular results if done right...).

So, did you always use that killer hardware to shoot sports, or did you once have some junk like me? If so, how did you overcome that? If not, well, then I guess I need to come up with $5k...


Did I always have killer equipment? No, when I started for the paper I was shooting with an Olympus E1 and E300 and various lens. I then had a 30D and some off brand Sigma and Tamron lenses. There are many successful photographer that work with lesser equipment and do very well with it.

I've got to be honest with you Digital noise is easier to deal with then motion blur which there is no possible way to deal with. Even with my older equipment I was pushing MAX ISO setting. When you go to upper ISO levels proper exposure is even more important then ever, always expose a bit to the right.

I shoot in some of the darkest and oldest gyms in the area, off camera flash is my only option in some of these in order to get anything half usable.

This photo is 6400ISO in one of my darkest gyms with lights that cycle terrible. Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_860503.jpg

This is with off camera flash(3 580EXII's) fired with Cybersyncs in a gym that ambient lighting is 1/200, F1.8, ISO8000. You can see why my option is to use off camera flash. Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_860507.jpg There is a lot into setting up off camera flash in this type of setting though, you should never walk into a gym and just set it up, there is much to do ahead of time just to be able to set it up, and not all AD(athletic directors) or SID's(Sports information Directors) will allow you to, and none will without insurance.

Matt
03/14/2010 10:56:50 AM · #14
Originally posted by bmartuch:

I have a question. Do you use a flash at a basketball game or do they look down on that in the gyms?


Flash is normally considered taboo on camera and directly in the faces of the players, no matter the sport. Sometimes it simply can't be avoided due to dark gyms or poor field lighting, however you must arrive early, get approval of the officials who ultimately run the show there. And if there are any complaints from the players or coaches you must stop using it immediately. I prefer in my darker gyms to set up remote flashes and bounce it if possible.

Matt
03/14/2010 12:08:41 PM · #15
Some generalizations about sports that I have observed in my daily work.

What makes a good sports image? Faces, Peak action, and ball in frame, if a stick and ball sport. Also try to remember to notice what you are looking at in your backgrounds. Cleaner backgrounds in sports are just as important as portraits, however in HS sports, college sports, and club sports this isn't always possible. You deal with what you are handed.

Watch your horizons! Straight horizons are one of the hardest things, for me still as well, to get. Many times I have to fix them in post, following fast action with your camera and keeping it level is next to impossible.

Faster glass will help you stop action and isolate your subjects from busy backgrounds, but put more stress on your AF system. I prefer to shoot wide open or stopped down one stop if needed for Depth of Field.

Noise is subjective, I would rather deal with a noisy stopped action shot from high ISO then one with motion blur that can't be dealt with in post. I routinely push my equipment to it's limit to try and stop action. Stopping it is easiest at peak points, which allows you to shoot slower shutter speeds but you will also get many less keepers.

Be prepared to shoot many frames a game and get a smaller keeper ratio then you ever imagined. Some days positioning on your part, actions of the participants, and of course the official walking in front of your lens(affectionatly called ref butt shots) can not be avoided. Don't just shoot and shoot and shoot some more. Shoot smarter! Wait for the action to come to you, it's not possible to shoot every play of every game. Shoot from your position you picked and let the action come to you, if you continually move trying to get the shot, you will miss nearly all of them. Pick a spot and shoot it for a quarter or a half.

Learn your sport. If you are going to effectively shoot a sport you must know the sport. You need to anticipate where the play might be going next to be prepared of where to shoot next. Runner on first, will he be stealing? Will a ground ball produce a double play? These are the things that pro's know and anticipate to get those amazing shots you see.

More to come, questions about what I wrote? Need something clarified? Just put it here and I'll answer it if possible.

Matt

03/14/2010 12:31:54 PM · #16
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Another challenge in shooting indoor sports is the phenom known as light cycling. As seen in this GIF from a very good sports photographer in Kansas. Notice how not only the brightness but even the colors that are cast on the players will change. This is another reason why many of the top photographers and schools use strobes to stop action and prevent these color cast issues.

I'll post a series of photos showing this from one of the worst gyms I shoot in, in a bit.

Matt
03/14/2010 12:45:58 PM · #17
Matt, thank you for this! I started shooting football this past fall and although all the parents & kids loved the work I did I know I have more to learn. I also shot wrestling this past season. THAT is the hardest thing to shoot! Trying to get good shots of the kids without a lot of "butt" is really hard! lol I may be shooting some soccer next week, just for the experience.
03/14/2010 12:57:16 PM · #18
Shutter speeds I use as min settings to get usable images. Lens selection and ISO vary depending on what gym I am in. Usually shooting wide open or close to it. Can you get usable images at lower shutter speeds? yes does your keeper rate drop below this thresh hold yes!

Winter sports
Basketball HS level
Girls 1/400
Boys 1/500
Wrestling 1/250
Hockey 1/640

Spring sports
Baseball 1/2500
Softball 1/2000
Soccer 1/1600
Track Varies based on events. Ask and I'll offer help
Golf 1/2000 action 1/250 setup shots

Summer is essentially baseball so refer to spring sports

Fall sports

Football 1/320- 1/500
Soccer 1/1600
Cross Country 1/400-1/800

Racing 1/200 and panning
Swimming 1/250 and panning

Matt

03/14/2010 01:25:01 PM · #19
I put this on watch. Lots of good info here. Thank You Matt
03/14/2010 07:41:37 PM · #20
Originally posted by coryboehne:



.. And besides, you've got to be kidding, suggesting a d90 to compete with a 1D Mk IV? Really I can see a ton of reasons the 1D is worth the money, I couldn't possibly justify a move to a d90 just for slightly better high ISO noise performance....

:)

-Cheers :)


camera is much more than sensor, but as far as sensor go dxomark do put them close, here are comparison based on dxomark.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2780/4433838304_c12a2a19d5_o.jpg

SNR

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4020/4433063471_5bf6f15a52_o.jpg

DR
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4038/4433838280_b077d084b8_o.jpg

i do understand shooting sports is much more than sensor. But for noise d90 is not bad if not the best. (i mean not bad as you might think).

Message edited by author 2010-03-14 20:07:02.
03/14/2010 07:43:28 PM · #21
OK guys, if you want to discuss cameras please do it somewhere else. I'm trying to start and have a thread containing information on sports shooting not related to gear. Please be respectful or I'll stop and lock the thread and won't take my time to offer help.

Matt

I ask that you remove the discussion about cameras in your responses as well.

Message edited by author 2010-03-14 19:45:40.
03/14/2010 08:07:54 PM · #22
Originally posted by MattO:

OK guys, if you want to discuss cameras please do it somewhere else. I'm trying to start and have a thread containing information on sports shooting not related to gear. Please be respectful or I'll stop and lock the thread and won't take my time to offer help.

Matt

I ask that you remove the discussion about cameras in your responses as well.


sorry for that, continue. No more post from me about cameras.
03/14/2010 09:05:53 PM · #23
Light cycling is a phenom that the human eye can not detect. However shooting at faster shutter speed then 1/60th(the cycle of electricity here in the US) you will be able to see it in your photos. Here is a burst of 5 photos that show it. These are shot in Manual mode so nothing changes in my setting. However notice the colors, brightness and different color temps. So not only are you battling timing, af struggles, people getting in front on you, but lights that are continually fighting against you. 1 of these 5 photos is usable,(actually ran in the paper) so yes sports are tough. These are in one of my worst gyms for cycling and lighting. 8000ISO F2.8 and 1/500.

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Matt

Edit to add these shots are all Straight out of camera, with no adjustments to them. Middle photo ran in this past weeks paper.

Message edited by author 2010-03-14 21:12:08.
03/14/2010 11:39:29 PM · #24
This is all very good information.. Thanks Matt!
03/14/2010 11:49:33 PM · #25
Well, I'll throw in what little sports advice I know... I read an article awhile back from a former Sports Illustrated photographer who said that the biggest mistake that amateur photographers make when shooting sports is that they rely on the burst mode. He claimed the best way to get really good sports shots, was to wait for the perfect moment, and snap a single frame. He argued that while this does take allot of practice, when you get good at it, you will always be able to capture the exact moment. So, when I went to Dolphin's training camp last year, I tried doing just that... Firing a single frame, trying to capture the exact moment, and I really liked my results... Now... More importantly, bear in mind I was shooting with my old Sony a200, a $130.00 Sigma 70-300mm lense, I was 10 rows back and hand-holding..... Just my two cents...

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oh and upon edit... the last photo is actually quite valuable... It is a really rare photo of Ted Ginn Jr. actually catching a football... :)

Message edited by author 2010-03-14 23:51:16.
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