First Sports Action Photos

JimMcClain

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And my first was a bust. I don't deny the obvious, the 2 examples here are out of focus. I'm not posting them because I think they are good (although I do like my composition), I post them so you can see where I'm at and I hope you can help me get where I want to go. I'm not going to be a pro sports photographer. Apparently there's no market for them anymore. ;) And my lungs prohibit me from moving around the court (or the fields), but I would like to get the occasional action photos at a much higher quality than these.

D810, Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD at 70mm, f/4, 1/200s, ISO 3200.
qhs-biggs1501-19-1080x.jpg


D810, Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD at 70mm, f/5, 1/250s, ISO 6400.
qhs-biggs1501-39-1080x.jpg


I know the D810 is s'posed to be good at producing low noise images at high ISOs, but both of these had what looked like a lot of noise to me. Here are 2 unprocessed crops at full resolution:

ISO 3200
test-sports01.jpg


ISO 6400
test-sports02.jpg


The amount of blur in these shots tells me I need a much higher ISO in order to get my shutter speeds to somewhere around 1/1000s. Do you think the noise removal in Lightroom is going to make them acceptable pictures - not so much for local news publication, but for those who may want to print and hang them on their wall? I usually only adjust the Luminance and Sharpening Amount sliders, sometimes the Masking. I'm not familiar with the uses of the other sliders in the Details panel.

Your help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Jim
 

Gary A.

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I wouldn't worry at all about the noise. Totally acceptable. Those who want prints won't even see the noise. Converting to B&W helps camouflage noise.

1/500 to 1/750 should do the trick. If you gotta shoot at 1/250 or lower, wait for/concentrate on, the peak of action, then shoot the hell out it. Watch your horizons. The lighting the the gym should be relatively uniform ... take some readings during pregame warmups ... check the histogram ... set it on manual and don't give your setting another thought. What slight variation in lighting should be easily compensated in post.

Gary
 

Scoody

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I shoot alot of high school sports and believe me, 250 to 400th of a second is plenty.
 
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JimMcClain

JimMcClain

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I wouldn't worry at all about the noise. Totally acceptable. Those who want prints won't even see the noise. Converting to B&W helps camouflage noise.

1/500 to 1/750 should do the trick.
I shoot alot of high school sports and believe me, 250 to 400th of a second is plenty.

I'd prob'ly feel more comfortable at the 1/500-750th second level. I think, especially with my inexperience, that my pics would be sharper at those shutter speeds. These 2 were the best of nearly 800 pictures and even these felt OOF to me. In order to keep the depth of field where I like it (f/4-5), I would have to boost the ISO to 12,800. What do you think about using manual mode to set aperture and shutter speed and then let the camera choose the ISO?

My shooting position might benefit with a move to a different location. Most of my shots were taken from the sideline, just shy of being parallel with the backboard. Maybe I should move closer to center court, say favoring the home team's side of center. And if I was opposite the team bench, I might be able to get some shots of the coaches and team huddles during time outs.

I can't really move around much because of my lungs, so I have to pretty much pick a spot and stay there throughout the first 2 quarters, move around on my mobility aide, a Segway, during the half-time, then find my final spot for the last 2 quarters.

Any thoughts on that?

Jim
 

Scoody

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I'd prob'ly feel more comfortable at the 1/500-750th second level. I think, especially with my inexperience, that my pics would be sharper at those shutter speeds. These 2 were the best of nearly 800 pictures and even these felt OOF to me. In order to keep the depth of field where I like it (f/4-5), I would have to boost the ISO to 12,800. What do you think about using manual mode to set aperture and shutter speed and then let the camera choose the ISO?

My shooting position might benefit with a move to a different location. Most of my shots were taken from the sideline, just shy of being parallel with the backboard. Maybe I should move closer to center court, say favoring the home team's side of center. And if I was opposite the team bench, I might be able to get some shots of the coaches and team huddles during time outs.

I can't really move around much because of my lungs, so I have to pretty much pick a spot and stay there throughout the first 2 quarters, move around on my mobility aide, a Segway, during the half-time, then find my final spot for the last 2 quarters.

Any thoughts on that?

Jim

Jim, when I first started out I felt that I had to use the highest shutter speed possible. A higher shutter speed meant a higher ISO which meant more noise. I found a comfortable compromise of both. I keep my ISO around 400-800, my aperture around 4-5 and my shutter speed at 250-400. Sometimes, early in the season I will up my shutter speed to 500 or so and scale back my ISO to 100 or 200 at JV and Freshman football games. This is because these games take place early enough in the evening that I can take advantage of some daylight.

I do not shoot basketball games but I do a lot of volleyball. For this, I use (oddly enough) my 50mm prime lens. The clarity is awesome and I crop as tight as I need.

Like you, my mobility is a bit limited, having almost lost a leg in a motorcycle accident a year and a half ago. But I do walk the whole sideline several times during a football game.

I do not know how experience you are as a sports photographer, but I do have some tips. Do not concentrate too much on shots of the action. Sure, those are nice, but what I have found that sells the most for me are the shots before the action. A wide receiver in the slot right before the snap and the intimidated look in the eyes of the defensive back finding himself in single coverage against the fastest wide receiver in the state. Or the shortstop laying on the ground looking at the ball rolling out into center field after diving for it and missing.
 

Gary A.

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Firstly, shoot wide open. Shutter speed is more important than extra DOF. I'd shoot: 1) under/near the basket (best to shoot with two cameras one with your 70-200 the other with a wide angle); 2) near the corner on you teams scoring side; 3) in the stands about half way up across from the basket; 4) anywhere else but half court (Most of your shots will be of the ball handlers backs. Okay, you may get some defensive action but it is much harder to get defensive action shots with the ball present than to get offensive action shots with the ball in it.)
 
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JimMcClain

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@Scoody, as I mentioned in a previous post, the above sports action was my first. With the indoor light of the gymnasium, the 2 shots above were at f/4, 1/200s, ISO 3200 and f/5, 1/250s, ISO 6400 (I was using aperture priority). If I were to shoot only as fast as 1/400s at f/4, my ISO would still have to be higher than 6,400, prob'ly 8 or 10,000. It's a small town, low budget gym and that's the kind of lighting I have to use. I can't use flash, although I saw what others said was a local pro using flash a couple times and the focus assist light quite a few times. It distracted me, so I can only imagine what it did to the players. But she's been a fixture there and the only pro that shoots for the local paper, so I think they put up with it (or don't know it can be done without it).

What do you think about the manual scenario I mentioned: set the f-stop and shutter speed manually, then allow the camera to use the ISO it needs? Alternatively, I could set the camera for aperture priority, MIN shutter speed of 1/400s and ISO sensitivity on with a high limit set or on auto. This is a Nikon D810.

Thanks for the tips,

Jim
 
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JimMcClain

JimMcClain

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Thanks @Gary A. I tried the widest aperture, f/2.8, but focusing (auto focus with the dials at CH and 3 and 5d) was awful. I felt I could get better focused shots at f/4 or 5 and my nearly 800 images proved that out. The shots at f/2.8 were the worst of all. Nothing was in focus. At f/4 or 5, at least some of what I was aiming at was in focus. This might get better with practice.

Thanks for the tips on location. I used your #2, but perhaps I was just a bit too close to the corner. I sat on the first row bench thinking that angle would emphasize the stereotypical height of the players. Your #3 sounds like something I could give a try. "Half-way up" the bleachers is prob'ly relative. These bleachers have only 6 rows, so I'm guessing row 5 might get me inline with the basket.

I don't feel safe at the end of the court. It's a small gym and the space between wall and court markings is about 4'. I'm disabled and can't move fast. And I will heed your advice to steer clear of half court.

I'm not a pro and only have one camera. I brought my Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD with me, but never pulled it out of the bag. The 70-200 and the 24-70 are my only two lenses. I could see the advantage of having a second camera, but that's not something I'll be getting any time soon.

Jim
 

RichieT

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@Scoody, as I mentioned in a previous post, the above sports action was my first. With the indoor light of the gymnasium, the 2 shots above were at f/4, 1/200s, ISO 3200 and f/5, 1/250s, ISO 6400 (I was using aperture priority). If I were to shoot only as fast as 1/400s at f/4, my ISO would still have to be higher than 6,400, prob'ly 8 or 10,000. It's a small town, low budget gym and that's the kind of lighting I have to use. I can't use flash, although I saw what others said was a local pro using flash a couple times and the focus assist light quite a few times. It distracted me, so I can only imagine what it did to the players. But she's been a fixture there and the only pro that shoots for the local paper, so I think they put up with it (or don't know it can be done without it).

What do you think about the manual scenario I mentioned: set the f-stop and shutter speed manually, then allow the camera to use the ISO it needs? Alternatively, I could set the camera for aperture priority, MIN shutter speed of 1/400s and ISO sensitivity on with a high limit set or on auto. This is a Nikon D810.

Thanks for the tips,

Jim

Jim, I shot HS wrestling in some gyms with with such horrible lighting I had to resort to flash. I asked my son and his teammates if the flash bothered them and everyone of them told me the same thing, they didn't even notice the flash. I don't think the flash would be a problem at the distance you'll be shooting at. Find out ahead of time if possible if the school allows flash and the next time someone else is using flash, ask some players if it bothers them if you can.
 

ronlane

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@JimMcClain, I shot my first HS basketball game Saturday night with a Canon 7D and a 70-200mm f/4L. I used manual mode and shot at about 1/500th at f/4 and my ISO was at 6400 or at ISO 12,800.

My post was just cropping, noise reduction, curves adjustment and sharpening. Here is one of my favorite shots, of the action. I wished the maintenance guy wouldn't have been there.

MWC-Owasso-9 by Lane Photo | Ron Lane, on Flickr
 

runnah

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I found shooting in shutter priority mode and auto ISO works great.

As for position being head on to the action allows for less motion blur.
 

Gary A.

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Here's an example of an old shot from the bleachers (with a 20D so the noise is pretty bad).

IMG_5591-L.jpg


My focal length was around 100mm. I am surprised about the AF are you using the single center spot for focus?
 
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JimMcClain

JimMcClain

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I am surprised about the AF are you using the single center spot for focus?
No. I had the camera set to AF-C, Release+Focus, Focus Tracking is AF-3 (Normal) and 9-point Dynamic Area (I believe I should have selected 21-point). In AF-C focus mode, you can't select single center spot for focus. Release+Focus means that a picture can be taken when the lens is out of focus.

Jim
 

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