Kids' Indoor Soccer: Advice Desired

WhiskeyTango

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Two of my nieces and a nephew play indoor soccer in the winter, and I've been struggling to get good shots of them doing so.

The lighting in the arena is flat out awful. The half-courts that the two youngest play on are lit with metal halides. The full courts, on the lower floor, are lit with flueroscents. Both are dark, but the full courts are darker.

I think I can work around the half court problems by shooting under the net, as long as the refs don't pitch a fit. On the full courts that's not an option. The net attaches at a point that I can't physically get to... My choices are to shoot through the nets or to drop down to the lower level and shoot through glass.

Here's a couple of example shots. The first is from the upper level stands and is shot through the nets. The second is from the floor and shot through the glass. Both were shot with a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens mounted to a Nikon D7000.

I'm looking for general tips on how to improve this, as well as specific opinion on whether I should work on shooting through the glass vs. shooting through the nets. I've considered a polarizing filter, but am worried about losing another few stops doing so. I'm already shooting ISO 3200.





WhiskeyTango
 
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WhiskeyTango

WhiskeyTango

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As a follow on question: I see lots of folks saying you get what you pay for with a polarizing filter. Hoya, Singh-Ray, and B&W all come recommended. Has anyone seen a comparison of brands or have anything to recommend one of these over the others?
 
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I'll try one more bump, and then throw in the towel.

In light (no pun intended) of the underwhelming response, I picked up a Hoya HD polarizing filter today for my 70-200. I'm gonna play with that shooting through the glass next weekend.

WhiskeyTango
 

MLeeK

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In sports it's more about the emotion than anything else. You want the faces if at all possible and to see the expression they're making.
Don't be afraid to raise your ISO. You NEVER want to underexpose an image in order to remain at a low ISO. You will cause more noise issues by doing that.
If you raise up the ISO to just about the point BEFORE you would have an unacceptable blowout and reduce in post you'll reduce the noise.
If you are using LR3 or beta 4 or CS5's adobe camera raw the noise removal in there is excellent and your images will be totally useable up to the max ISO of that camera.
Your lens is not the sharpest wide open as well. You'll find it's best once you hit about f/4, but even raising to 3.1 is going to improve sharpness. You SHOULD be able to shoot at f/4 if you raise your ISO. I generally am shooting football (as close as I get to soccer) at about 1/500, ISO 12800, f/4. You may need a little higher on the shutter speed with soccer. Those feet move pretty quickly.
Are you shooting with the OS version of the sigma or the non OS version? The non OS is slightly slower to focus so you will want to anticipate the action a little bit so it keeps up. I believe in Nikon it's continuous focus as well. Depending on where you are positioned at you may need to use a focus point other than the center one. In football I tend to use one up from center so I don't end up with a bottom heavy image. In wrestling I go to the bottom point to avoid a top heavy image... It's all in what you need and prefer.

I am not sure why you are wanting a polarizing filter for sports. Polarizing is to avoid glare on reflective objects. I've been shooting sports for a while but, there could be something there I have never heard of too...
 

MLeeK

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Both of these images are shot at ISO 12800 and the only noise removal I have done is in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for them to enlarge
6303392435_4b54557356_b.jpg

6303397243_ea275211dd_b.jpg
 

Jeremy Z

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Not a lot of response, because it is such a tough situation, I bet. It sounds like there's really no good answer.

I think shooting through the net would be preferable, but either one could fool your autofocus at just the wrong moment.

I'd try to get down close enough that you could put your lens THROUGH the net, but that might not be an option either.
 

Tony S

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Up the ISO like it's been mentioned already.

Shots from above look like they will not be too bad with the higher ISO. A polarizing filter is not going to help you here, only hurt with loss of light. You are also losing light shooting through the glass, look at the glass across the turf on the other side. It's tinted, so you are losing light through it, looks close to one full stop. Instead find openings in the glass, like right next to that guy in the black shirt. Or a spot just over the glass. Double check for openings in the wall, on some hockey rinks there are camera openings in the panels.

With what you have to work with try and find your best angles. Shots like these from the side don't lend well to catching faces. Try to get at the ends where the goals are, then the players are facing you as they come in. It also gives cleaner backgrounds since there is much more distance behind them to distracting elements.
 

gstaska

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Try Shooting in awb mode for the lighting issues. I shoot in quite a few different gyms and have found this to work really well for all of the different lighting.
 

robolepa

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Jeremy hit it right on the head with his response of "there is no good answer". I shoot kid's hockey games on a regular basis and have the exact same options as you - through the glass, or through the net. I always prefer shooting through the glass, strictly because of the angle. But then you have the chore of finding an area of glass clean enough to shoot through. That's not an issue if you shoot through the net, obviously. The only other thing I would add to the comments already posted is set your metering to either center-weighted, or spot metering when you're shooting. If you have it set to Matrix metering, you'll most likely end up with underexposed images.
 
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WhiskeyTango

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In sports it's more about the emotion than anything else. You want the faces if at all possible and to see the expression they're making.
Don't be afraid to raise your ISO. You NEVER want to underexpose an image in order to remain at a low ISO. You will cause more noise issues by doing that.
If you raise up the ISO to just about the point BEFORE you would have an unacceptable blowout and reduce in post you'll reduce the noise.
If you are using LR3 or beta 4 or CS5's adobe camera raw the noise removal in there is excellent and your images will be totally useable up to the max ISO of that camera.
Your lens is not the sharpest wide open as well. You'll find it's best once you hit about f/4, but even raising to 3.1 is going to improve sharpness. You SHOULD be able to shoot at f/4 if you raise your ISO. I generally am shooting football (as close as I get to soccer) at about 1/500, ISO 12800, f/4. You may need a little higher on the shutter speed with soccer. Those feet move pretty quickly.
Are you shooting with the OS version of the sigma or the non OS version? The non OS is slightly slower to focus so you will want to anticipate the action a little bit so it keeps up. I believe in Nikon it's continuous focus as well. Depending on where you are positioned at you may need to use a focus point other than the center one. In football I tend to use one up from center so I don't end up with a bottom heavy image. In wrestling I go to the bottom point to avoid a top heavy image... It's all in what you need and prefer.

I am not sure why you are wanting a polarizing filter for sports. Polarizing is to avoid glare on reflective objects. I've been shooting sports for a while but, there could be something there I have never heard of too...

Now that's the insight I'm looking for! Thank you.

I've been avoiding higher ISO like the plague, but your response and several in other threads have opened my eyes. I will be pushing it up next weekend when I return to the arena.

I've got the non-OS version of the Sigma. I'd like to swap out for the Nikon... We'll see what happens at tax time :)

My consideration of a polarizing filter is for shooting through the glass at court-side. The angle is much better there for pictures, but in addition to having awful light, the whole ground floor of the venue is painted white, and the reflections are horrible. Since I went ahead and bought one, I'll give it a shot. I'll post some samples after next weekend.

WhiskeyTango
 
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Jeremy hit it right on the head with his response of "there is no good answer". I shoot kid's hockey games on a regular basis and have the exact same options as you - through the glass, or through the net. I always prefer shooting through the glass, strictly because of the angle. But then you have the chore of finding an area of glass clean enough to shoot through. That's not an issue if you shoot through the net, obviously. The only other thing I would add to the comments already posted is set your metering to either center-weighted, or spot metering when you're shooting. If you have it set to Matrix metering, you'll most likely end up with underexposed images.

It took some groveling, but this thread definitely delivered.

I've already been working in spot metering mode and spot focus mode, but I'm going to have to break out my manual and figure out how to force an AF point, if I can.

That bit of insight, along with raising my ISO rather than underexposing to save shutter speed are extremely helpful. Hopefully I'll have some solid improvements next Saturday.


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cnutco

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First, welcome to the site and glad to see people have added helpful comments for this tough situation.

Second, I have to ask, how did you come up with WhiskeyTango?
 

gsgary

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In sports it's more about the emotion than anything else. You want the faces if at all possible and to see the expression they're making.
Don't be afraid to raise your ISO. You NEVER want to underexpose an image in order to remain at a low ISO. You will cause more noise issues by doing that.
If you raise up the ISO to just about the point BEFORE you would have an unacceptable blowout and reduce in post you'll reduce the noise.
If you are using LR3 or beta 4 or CS5's adobe camera raw the noise removal in there is excellent and your images will be totally useable up to the max ISO of that camera.
Your lens is not the sharpest wide open as well. You'll find it's best once you hit about f/4, but even raising to 3.1 is going to improve sharpness. You SHOULD be able to shoot at f/4 if you raise your ISO. I generally am shooting football (as close as I get to soccer) at about 1/500, ISO 12800, f/4. You may need a little higher on the shutter speed with soccer. Those feet move pretty quickly.
Are you shooting with the OS version of the sigma or the non OS version? The non OS is slightly slower to focus so you will want to anticipate the action a little bit so it keeps up. I believe in Nikon it's continuous focus as well. Depending on where you are positioned at you may need to use a focus point other than the center one. In football I tend to use one up from center so I don't end up with a bottom heavy image. In wrestling I go to the bottom point to avoid a top heavy image... It's all in what you need and prefer.

I am not sure why you are wanting a polarizing filter for sports. Polarizing is to avoid glare on reflective objects. I've been shooting sports for a while but, there could be something there I have never heard of too...

Now that's the insight I'm looking for! Thank you.

I've been avoiding higher ISO like the plague, but your response and several in other threads have opened my eyes. I will be pushing it up next weekend when I return to the arena.

I've got the non-OS version of the Sigma. I'd like to swap out for the Nikon... We'll see what happens at tax time :)

My consideration of a polarizing filter is for shooting through the glass at court-side. The angle is much better there for pictures, but in addition to having awful light, the whole ground floor of the venue is painted white, and the reflections are horrible. Since I went ahead and bought one, I'll give it a shot. I'll post some samples after next weekend.

WhiskeyTango


The polarizing filter will rob you of light and make it harder
 
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WhiskeyTango

WhiskeyTango

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First, welcome to the site and glad to see people have added helpful comments for this tough situation.Second, I have to ask, how did you come up with WhiskeyTango?
Lol. My 3 1/2 year old daughter picked up a phrase she finds cute and I cringe at. She likes to say "What the..". Thankfully, she leaves it right there and hasn't discovered there's usually another word in that phrase :). Whiskey-Tango is the military phonetic alphabet for WT...
 

cnutco

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10 -4! Hopefully, she will never find or use the "F" when she grows up.
 

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