Indoor Action Shots

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by jlunde, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. jlunde

    jlunde TPF Noob!

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    I have taken many outdoor action shots (cycles, quads, bikes, etc) which turned out great, but I am having a hard time getting good shots at my sons basketball game. I use the action setting, but there are so many little bodies moving so fast, I am having a hard time getting a non-blurry shot. I tried the shutter priority (which goes as high as 1/16000), but when I get past about 1/250, my picture get too dark (what causes this?). So how do I use a high shutter speed (1/500 - 1/1000) on shutter priority, and not have the screen dark? This may be a stupid question, but this is about the only type of photography in which I have not been able to get satisfactory results. I appreciate any insight.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I think it's time for a basic photography lesson. :)

    There are two main factors that effect the exposure of a photograph. Shutter speed (how long it's open) and aperture (the size of the opening). The shutter speed is in fractions of a second, as you know. The aperture is represented in a ratio called F-stop. (ratio between size of the opening & the focal length). The lower F number, the bigger the opening. (F 2.8 is bigger than F8 )

    The two values are reciprical...if you double the size of the aperture and cut the exposure time by 1/2...you will get the same exposure. and visa versa.

    So when you put the camera into shutter priority and set a fast shutter speed...the aperture has to open up to allow more light into the film/sensor. The problem is that aperture size is limited by the design of the lens. So if your biggest aperture is F4 and your camera's light meter is telling you to use F4 @ 1/125...and you want to shoot at 1/500...the aperture would have to be F2 (four times bigger) but your camera can't open that much...so you end up two stops underexposed. The faster you set the shutter, the more underexposed your photo will be.

    You were able to use faster shutter speeds outside because there was more light.

    To be able to get proper exposure with fast shutter speeds, you would need to use a lens (or camera) with a bigger maximum aperture or use faster film (bump up the ISO).

    Now if you are close enough to use a flash, you can freeze the action with a much slower shutter speed because the flash burst is much, much faster than the shutter. At 1/125 with flash, you would actually have two images. One would be blurry from the ambient light and one would be sharp from the flash.

    Hope some of this was helpful.
     
  3. cmptrdewd

    cmptrdewd TPF Noob!

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    Welcome to the forum, jlude!

    Big mike: I knew most of this stuff already, but i had no idea that there was a connection between flash and motion blur! :shock:
    Cool, thx mike! :)

    Btw, most basketball games, a flash is not allowed.
     
  4. Shinnentai

    Shinnentai TPF Noob!

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    Ever seen one of those action studio pictures where the subject is "frozen" at stages though a complex motion (dancing, say, or a martial arts move)? The shutter is left open throughout the motion, capturing the blurry trail of the persons movement, while a strobe is fired at intervals, creating the "freeze frames" along the trail. :D
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I didn't mention front or rear curtain sync.

    With a typical focal plane shutter, the shutter opens in two stages. First one half, and then the other. The camera has to fire the flash while both curtains are open, so you can only set the shutter to the camera's sync speed or slower. Typically the flash fires as soon as the curtains are open. If you had a slow shutter speed and a moving subject (with enough ambient light) you would get a sharp image from the flash and a blur in front of the moving subject. This usually looks awkward, as if the subject is moving in reverse.

    On some cameras, you can set the flash to fire at the end of the exposure (2nd curtain sync). This will give you a blur with the sharp image at the front of the blur. This usually looks much better because it gives the impression that the object is moving forward.
     
  6. jlunde

    jlunde TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike for the insight, that was great. So what do I do if the maximum aperture is F2.8 and the action setting still isn't cutting it? Since a flash is not really an option (at least at basketball games), what are my alternatives? Thanks again.
     
  7. CaliBoy

    CaliBoy TPF Noob!

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    I take basketball pictures for my local newspaper every week and I found out quite fast that no flash won't work out in the end (in our gymnasium at least).
    If it is at all possible to use flash I'd do it. I've never asked and they don't seem to mind.
    Starting out I was very weary of using flash because I didn't want the players or fans or coaches to get angery if someone missed a shot when my flash was used, but after a few weeks I decided there was no other way unless all I wanted was a blurry photo.
    I would use flash until someone comes up and asks you to stop.
    Everyone's settings are different but I like using shutter prioriety mode and usually I'll force the flash, 1/125 or 1/160 shutter speed at about f/3.5
    F/3.5 is the top for my lense but I would recommend something small like a f/2.8. ISO speed is important to I like about 500 so it doesn't get to grainy but it add's some more light.
    At the end they are still a little underexposed but a computer program can usually brighten it up pretty well, depends on the program though.
    Hope this helps a little.
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If you are at your maximum aperture (F2.8) and your shutter speeds are still too slow...use faster film or turn up the ISO on your digital camera.
     
  9. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    They use remotely mount flash in collage and NBA game. I recall an article in Shutterbug that said you paid the NBA to mount your flashes off the cat wakes
     
  10. heroic_falls

    heroic_falls TPF Noob!

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    good advice, i shoot a lot of sports and the sport i enjoy the most is also the hardest i feel to shoot. ice hockey, does any one have any advice for this area. most rinks have such horrible lighting which is hard to deal with, but on top of that you have the borads and the glass to overcome as well. i don't want to use a direct flash so not to disturb the game and for other reasons, like i don't want an on camera flash look. i was thinking about trying to bounce my flash of the ceiling but ther are very high and i am not sure if my flash has enough power to be effective. any advice?
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Hockey can be tough to shoot. The lighting is never as good as we think it will be.

    Unless you are talking about floor hockey in someone's basement, bouncing the flash off a ceiling will not work.

    The best wepon will be a fast lens. F2.8 or faster would be your best bet. After that, fast film or a high ISO setting.

    A guy here at the fourm used to shoot hockey games in Indianapolis...WSP is his member name, he might have some tips for shooting hockey.
     

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