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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Shooting Night Football games
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08/29/2007 10:30:26 AM · #1
My grandsons will be starting their high school football games and the oldest will be having their games at night. I have a Nikon D100 and the lens I will be using is the Nikon 70-200. I would like for all the help on how to shoot night football games. Should I set my camera on Program or Auto? I have never shot at night. I want to shoot without a flash and want to freeze the action. They have their first game this Saturday. Please Help me!

Ben
08/29/2007 10:38:35 AM · #2
Originally posted by ltndncr:

My grandsons will be starting their high school football games and the oldest will be having their games at night. I have a Nikon D100 and the lens I will be using is the Nikon 70-200. I would like for all the help on how to shoot night football games. Should I set my camera on Program or Auto? I have never shot at night. I want to shoot without a flash and want to freeze the action. They have their first game this Saturday. Please Help me!

Ben


Flash will be useless unless on the field anyway. You'll just make the area in front of the play brighter and then the stuff beyond will get darker.

Set to about 1/500 if you can and work your way down from there. Use ISO-400 if the D100 is good with high ISO and open the aperture as wide as you can.

Use burst mode and a monopod if you can (monopods are easier to get into the stands than a tripod and easier to move around, but careful -- the stands do vibrate).

Anticipate!!!

You might even want a red dot sight to be able to track the play without the viewfinder (especially while zoomed).

Prepare for some noise which you can clean up later.

By the 3rd or 4th game, you should get the hang of it. :)

Despite the fact that our eye can see all that's going on with the stadium lights, the camera will have a much harder time using that light. God is a better lens designer than Nikon, Canon, or anyone. :)
08/29/2007 10:50:53 AM · #3
Hi, i had to do alot of night football last winter. (Check my profile - please) ;-)

I found it very difficult to get a quick shutter speed at night, floodlights are ok for watching but not shooting. I solved the problem by getting a F2.8 @ 200mm Image Stabalising lens (Canon 2.8 IS L USM 70-200mm) there expensive (cheaper from Japan) but you can freeze the action till the end of the game. If you can't get a lens like this then you might have to under expose then adjust the exposure on your editing software, this will produce more noise but some software can get rid of this for you but risks loosing picture sharpness.
Hope this helps.
Jim

Message edited by author 2007-08-29 10:51:24.
08/29/2007 11:06:44 AM · #4
If you're trying to shoot from the stands, you're gonna have a hard time. High school football games are about the most poorly-lit examples of photography you'll ever experience.

If you are shooting from the sidelines, a flash WILL actually help a lot.

I shoot Steelers games for a newspaper, and even with the stadium lights, it's challenging to get good shots, even with ISO 1600 and a 2.8 lens.

I shot some stuff for a semi-pro team a couple years ago, and they play at a local high school field. I found that using the flash was actually beneficial from the sidelines.

Anyway... long story short, if you're shooting from the stands, you're going to get next to nothing, really. Not trying to be pessimistic, but unless your field is unusually well-lit for a high school, it's really tough to get good shots under those circumstances. If you're on the field, either boost the ISO to 1600 and set it on manual (f 2.8 and 1/400th-ish)... or use the flash.
08/29/2007 11:14:20 AM · #5
Originally posted by alanfreed:



I shoot Steelers games for a newspaper, and even with the stadium lights, it's challenging to get good shots, even with ISO 1600 and a 2.8 lens.



Sorry, my camera does 3200 iso, i didn't think. It helps a great deal.

Although i'm surprised you can use flash, i'm not aloud to at Conference matches. (It's the 5th football/soccer league/division in England if you rest of the worlds are wondering)
08/29/2007 12:24:06 PM · #6
I will agree with this one. However he has manufactured alot of defective processors.

Originally posted by HawkeyeLonewolf:

God is a better lens designer than Nikon, Canon, or anyone. :)

08/29/2007 12:26:59 PM · #7
Originally posted by Bugzeye:

I will agree with this one. However he has manufactured alot of defective processors.

Originally posted by HawkeyeLonewolf:

God is a better lens designer than Nikon, Canon, or anyone. :)


Nah... most were in perfect working order when they left the factory. The original owner has the lion's share of the blame. :)
08/29/2007 12:58:09 PM · #8
You may try getting a manual 50mm FD f1.4, or 135, f2.8, and adapter ring, which would be inexpensive compared to a 200 f2.8, and try to get as close to the action as possible, then crop the images. Highest iso available will help some, but as everyone has said, football field lighting is just a little better than shooting in moonlight.
Another alternative would be a very inexpensive off brand 135 or longer lens with big aperture like an f 2.8. You will probably not be getting super sharp images anyway, even with expensive L glass due to motion and high iso. Check local pawn and thrft shops, or eBay ect.

The monopod is a very useful item, and can be picked up just a little off the bleachers to eliminate vibration , and it will still help a lot with stability. I use a monopod with one of the 3 small legs screwed into it near the head, and place that on my shoulder to help with side to side motion. It is a great setup for panning shots, as you can hook the main leg in your belt, and the camera moves with your whole body very smoothly.
A good strong add on flash can reach a long way at iso 800, but I would set it up to shoot max and manual at longest zoom, and shoot some test shots at night with it to figure out what range it will cover with your current lens. It may help a lot if you can get near the sidelines.

edit; I see you have a Nikon, so with the older Nikon/ Nikkor ai lenses, you will not need an adapter, and older ai Nikkors are available for less than most Canon glass. I picked up a scratched 180mm 2.8 ai for under $30 a couple of weeks ago which works fine for this type shooting.
One last thing, a good lens shade will help eliminate flare and improve contrast.
Good luck.

Message edited by author 2007-08-29 13:03:50.
08/29/2007 03:32:15 PM · #9
If you want quality results (by that I mean, stopped motion without any blur in the background from panning), you're going to have to flash. The onboard flash won't work, so you'll need an SB600 or even 800.

There's a lot of threads about this on fredmiranda.com's sports photography section. A lot of people use brackets to get the flash as far away from the lens as possible so it doesn't cast ugly shadows.

The main problem with using low-powered onboard flash is actually how bright the ambient light is. You can't overpower it enough with the onboard one, so you'll get ghosting (if you set the camera to the max X-sync speed, medium ISO and close to wide open aperture to pick up the light from the little flash, some ambient light will still come in after the flash has fired and the shutter is still open. This will blur anything that's moving in the frame and make the players have ghostly outlines.

The only way to get rid of this is to underexpose the ambient (set the exposure so that you'll get a dark frame without firing the flash) and light it only with the flash. The burst is going to be about 1/1600th or faster, so it can stop motion pretty well.
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