Shooting tips for gymnastics?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by LuckySo-n-So, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. LuckySo-n-So

    LuckySo-n-So TPF Noob!

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    I may go to a local gymnastics meet Friday evening. No press pass, so I'll have to sit in the stands, but I plan on moving around a lot.

    I have the 18-200mm kit lens and a Sigma 70-300mm. The lighting probably won't be the greatest, and using the flash will be verboten. If I can't get any good shots because of lighting, well, I'm only out $5 and a couple hours time.

    Any tips will be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Your lenses may well make things hard for you, with their small max aperture.

    I'd suggest using a rather high ISO setting...1600 or higher if your camera can handle it. The idea being that you want to get the fastest shutter speed possible.
     
  3. hankejp

    hankejp TPF Noob!

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    Try not to shoot at the max focal length. Try to stay as close to the min. focal length as much as you can. I shoot Gymanstics to our local YMCA traveling team. As of right now I use the Sigma 70-300. Lighting is a real *****, except for this last meet. The lighting for the floor was great. Plus I was right next to the floor so I was able to keep my focal length at 70mm.
     
  4. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    It really depends on what the lighting looks like. I have shot gymnastics in places where the lighting was ok enough for those lenses. And I have also shot where the lighting wouldn't allow for anything worth while with those lenses. Here's what I would suggest, stick to the beam stuff. You won't be able to get much of the floor shots with that gear. The beam moves a lot slower than the floor. Also watch the routines on the beam to see what they are going to do. Every level (except the 9's and 10's) have a set routine that they have to do. Watch for a few minutes and you will be able to anticipate where they are going to be. Also use single point auto focus becuase the sequins on the outfits can give your AF system fits. Depending on where the beam is, you may be able to be perpendicular with it, in that case you will be golden becuase they will stay in pretty much the same focal plane and you won't have to worry too much about the focus. Shoot at the highest ISO you can, and have fun. Now if I were you, I would talk to the coaches of whoever you're going to watch, and see if you can get a coaches pass. You may be able to, and in that case you can get right up on the action. Another technique you can use with the beam if you can't get fast enough shutter speeds to freeze the action is panning. On the beam the start from one end and run and to a jump in the air at some point during the routine. While in the air, they do the spits. If you pan with them when they start the run, you can freeze them in mid air while blurring everything else. Make sure when you do this though that you follow through the frame even after the shutter has closed. That will produce the best results. Here are a few from a meet I shot a month or two ago:

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    [​IMG]

    These girls were all level 10's meaning olympic hopefuls. I shot at ISO1600 f/2.8 at 1/250. Oh almost forgot, shoot in manual mode and set your exposure. off of a neutral color like the beam or something. A lot of the the outfits they wear are shiny and then some are black. They will play hell with your meter. Hope this helps... Jason
     
  5. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    Oh almost forgot. Do a custom white balance. The lighting in these gyms usually varies so you'll want to set a custom white balance to be sure of your color.
     
  6. LuckySo-n-So

    LuckySo-n-So TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice. Looks like some very helpful tips--I'll be sure follow them as closely as I can. I did kind of have a chuckle at this, though:



    I'm not sure how D.D. Breaux, the head coach of the 10th ranked LSU gymnastics team would react to some goofball total stranger with a camera if said goofball asked for floor access (but, hey...you never know, I guess...). Granted, these aren't Olympic hopefuls, but I'm sure they are talented nonetheless.

    I'll try the beam for sure. Not sure if I'll be able to be fast enough with anything else (vault, unevens, etc.), unless I'm RIGHT there with my "nifty fifty."

    Once again, thanks! I'll post the results if I make it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2009
  7. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    If you have a 50mm you'll be fine with the beam. Plenty fast enough for that. What camera are you shooting with?
     
  8. LuckySo-n-So

    LuckySo-n-So TPF Noob!

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    The dreaded, feared, and HATED Nikon D40. I've owned it for three weeks. My first SLR in 25 years, so I've got a little l'arnin to do. :lol:

    But, you can't learn if you don't get out there and use the damn thing, no?

    D90/D300 (once everyone ditches it for the D400) is probably a year away.
     
  9. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    Don't worry too much about that. I was just asking because I was curious how high you could go on ISO.
     

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