Stadium Lights HELP!

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by stacye, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. stacye
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    stacye New Member

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    HELP! I am trying to take action shots under football field stadium light.. I have a canon EOS 40D I am using a Ef 70-300mm lense. Can someone PLEASE tell me what setting to put my camera on so my pictures are not blurry. I am some what of a beginner for night shots! I need to take mulitple shots!
  2. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    You are fighting a loosing battle. In order to get shots that freeze moving subjects, you need a short (fast) shutter speed. A short shutter speed lets in less light though, so you either need to compensate or have a lot of light. To compensate, you could use a larger lens aperture or turn up the ISO, problem is that your lens has a small maximum aperture...that's your main limitations. Pro sports photographers use lenses with large apertures like F2.8.

    If you can't get a better lens, your only alternative is to turn up the ISO. The 40D is pretty good so crank it up to 1600 or 3200.
  3. Ls3D
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    Ls3D New Member

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    I would shoot shutter priority (Tv) with the fastest exposure as your metering will 'allow'...

    Perhaps start in the 1250 - 2000 range, meter off a lit object and see if the aperture value is blinking... is so this is your 40D telling you the current shutter speed is too fast to produce a nice exposure. In this case the wheel behind the shutter release can be scrolled until the blinking stops, setting a 'compatible' shutter speed for the metering just taken... Of course much depends on the metering points and lighting of the actual subjects, so this is just a general guideline.

    I'm pretty new to all this, so hopefully I have not lead you too far off course,... but nothing gets a thread going like some noob on noob action! Good luck, hope to see your work latter.

    -Shea
  4. stacye
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    stacye New Member

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    Here I am being stupid I am sure... Can I manually set the ISO in the action option? My camera is telling me auto and want let me change it?
  5. Ls3D
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    Ls3D New Member

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    With Big Mike on the scene I should just watch, but since I have the same camera:

    In shutter priority (Tv) I just push the ISO button and scroll the wheel to a new setting... If you are in Auto or some of the presets then the ISO may be set to auto as well.

    -S
  6. stacye
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    stacye New Member

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    I can do that but then can I do continuous shooting??

    By The way Thanks for not treating me like an
    idiot!!
  7. AF44
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    AF44 New Member

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    just so you know i have shot football at night under stadium lights with that same setup... it isnt easy haha i feel your pain

    good luck!
  8. stacye
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    stacye New Member

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    No, Suggestions?
  9. AF44
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    AF44 New Member

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    oh lets see... crank that iso up, like the guys said. i shot with a flash unit, got some mixed results. and shoot in Tv or M. it would be advisable to start shooting test shots before the game starts so you know you have your settings right

    and thats all i got! haha...
  10. gryphonslair99
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    gryphonslair99 New Member

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    Sports is my main passion for shooting. From looking at the equipment you listed the first problem you are having under stadium lights is the lens you are using. It's fine for daytime in good light but at night it's just too slow. I'm going to guess that you are shooting at the high school level. The only thing darker than a high school stadium is a lunar eclipse. Sometimes I'm not so sure that it's not a tie. :wink:

    You need fast glass. At least in the area of f2.8. An excellent, although somewhat expensive option is the Canon 70-200 f2.8L. It is around $1200, but an excellent option for night time shooting. In daylight it is outstanding. If $1200 is a bit much then take a look at the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 at about $800. The Canon 70-200 f2.8L is the lens I use on the sidelines at the college level on my second body. My primary lens is a 400mm f2.8. Large, heavy and very expensive for the average shooter.

    Once you have glass that is fast enough to allow for the shutter speeds necessary there are other tricks of the trade that will serve you well. Below is my suggestion to another shooter a while back in the same situation. Keep in mind that they were using the 70-200 f4 in the daytime but still having difficulty. The same principles will apply to shooting at night.

    I suggest that beginning sports shooters start in AV mode instead of TV mode. Let you aperture and ISO control you shutter instead of the other way around.

    First set the aperture wide open. To get those striking action shots you want a shallow DOF with just the subject of the action in focus. This makes the action pop from the photo instead of blending with a crisp in focus background.

    Next start cranking you ISO up until you get a minimum of 1/320th of a second. 1/500th would be my preferred and is easily accomplished during the daytime. Depending on the field and the lighting you may be pushing to get 1/320th at night. If you go any lower that 1/250th you will be lucky to freeze the action. That is pretty much the bare minimum for freezing field sports.

    During daytime shooting I would shoot for somewhere between 1/500th and 1/1000th of a second shutter speed and keep the ISO as low as possible to accomplish this. An ISO of 100 or 200 with a shutter speed of 1/1000th is going to freeze the action and provide better looking photos than shots at 1/4000th of a second and an ISO of 1600.

    By using AV mode it forces the camera to use a shutter speed, if reached, that will provide correct exposure. The information in the viewfinder will let you know if you are not there as your shutter speed will blink if you are not.

    Use AI Servo mode and a single focus point to track the action. I prefer the center point for most field sports. Use the dedicated focus button on the back of the body to continually follow and focus on the action. If you have a grip then set the focus to the * button in the custom functions. This allows you to use the same button in both landscape and portrait mode with the grip. Follow the action with the camera constantly focusing and keep you focus point dead on the subject of the action. This is probably the hardest part that just takes practice. If you focus point slips off the subject for even a fraction of a second the camera will start to hunt for focus. That and slow shutter speeds are probably the two biggest reasons good shots come out blurry or out of focus.

    If you plan on shooting a lot of night games you may want to look at trading up from the f4 to the f2.8. It is more expensive but f2.8 is about as slow as you can use for most night games at least at the high school and average college level.

    Finally, I am going to assume that you are a parent shooting a child. If so then my last piece of advise will be this. The minute that you put that camera up to your face you cease to be a parent. You are now a photographer. You do not care who wins or loses and you root for no one, all you care about is good action and capturing that action. If you are in parent mode you will watch the game and then quickly attempt to capture action as it is happening. If you are in photographer mode you are anticipating the action, following the action and already prepared to capture the moment instead of scrambling to get the shot as it is passing you by. Good luck and practice, practice, practice. Sports photography is one of the most demanding forms of photography there is.
  11. Ls3D
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    Ls3D New Member

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    I was going to go to the YMCA baseball fields and see if I could get any practical experience shooting under similar conditions, but then a new Southpark sucked all creativity & motivation out of my brain...

    I can verify that in continuous shooting my 1600 ISO remained so I do not think that will be a problem (testing max value only, field check!). Of course frame rates were compromised in my lowish light test. I imagine the auto-focusing (if used) would also be slower than typical daylight shooting..

    Then there is the whole issue of using a flash... etc.. I got nothing there.. and so I too humbly listen for info across the discipline. I'm sure you can mine some other threads and forums for stories, so if you can't sleep...

    EDIT: Oh cool, a lengthy and informative thread just popped up on top of mine... now to absorb it all before The Daily Show!
    EDIT2: Hey that was good, and a minute to spare!...
    -S
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008

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