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Old Sep 16, 2009, 9:13 AM   #11
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I think you're off to a very fine start. And, you're right - it's a learning process. Every time you go out and shoot you'll learn something new. I would encourage you to keep seeking feedback of your results like this. That way people can give specific advice.

On the first shot - you've caught some nice action here. A couple opportunities for improvement are:
1) get lower - sit or kneel so you are not shooting down on your subject - you always want to shoot strait ahead or up on your subject it makes them appear larger than life and it helps get more facial expressions as opposed to tops of helmets.
2) watch cutting off feet. It takes some practice because you as the photographer don't tend to watch feet you watch torsos. This is where shooting portrait also helps because it provides more frame space vertically. That also helps reduce the dead space on either side of your subject.

Those are the big things. The much tougher one for down the road is getting a better exposure. By that I mean the most important part of the image is the faces of the players. It will take time and practice to be able to adjust your camera settings so the faces are exposed properly rather than in dark shadows. But that's a tougher thing to work on. Let me know when you want to address that aspect and I can help you out.

Second photo: Really great framing and nice action. The two areas for improvement on this photo are:
1) softness. The photo is soft. There can be several reasons for the softness. A) overcropping - if you crop too much the photo will be soft B) didn't give the camera opportunity to focus - you want to track a subject for a second to allow your camera to get a good focus lock and track him while he moves C) quick change in direction - if the runner makes a cut, very often the camera will mess up the focus right after the direction change. D) the camera's focus mode isn't set for continuous focus (cant recall what it's called in Pentax language). For all these reasons I recommend tracking for a second and shoot in 3-shot bursts. Usually one of the 3 shots will be better focused than the others.

2) Exposure - again a bit underexposed - the whites are grey rather than bright and the face is in deep shadow.

Again, you're of to a very good start.

Now, I want to address your mentor's advice. Shooting from endzone corners is great IF you have enough reach in your lens. If you're shooting with 55mm lens you really have to be within only a few yards. If you've got 200mm lens then you need to be within 25 yards, 40 yards for a 300mm lens. While you want faces, you want them to be SHARP. You get that sharpness by being within the limits of the lens you're using. For example, here's a shot from the sideline not the corner of the endzone:

So, I would say - his advice is good to shoot from the corners IF you have enough reach. That advice is great when using a 400mm lens. When you're not, shooting from the sidelines with your distance within the limit of the lens from the line of scrimmage will get you the best results. So, if the team is on the 40 yardline, you'll get your best shots not from the endzone but from X number of yards from the line of scrimmage.

Here's the EASY way to tell how far away to position yourself. At full zoom, in portrait orientation you want your subject filling 2/3 of the vertical frame. So, while the offense is huddled up as they break you take a frame on one of the players - QB or center and see how much of the frame they fill. If they're on the close hash you can get further down field, if they're on the far hash you need to be closer to the line of scrimmage.

So, the concept that's important is being downfield so you get players coming toward you. But not too far down field to fill at least 2/3 of the vertical frame with your subject.

For my part, the only time I'm ever at the corner of the endzone with my 300mm lens is when the team gets into the redzone. Outside of that the lens doesn't have enough reach to get quality photos. And, as you can see from the posted photo you can still get great facial shots without being in the corner.

Good luck and keep shooting! You're doing great.
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Old Sep 16, 2009, 9:50 AM   #12
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Now, I want to address your mentor's advice. Shooting from endzone corners is great IF...
The advice was from my mentor, not Dan's (I'm nobody's mentor when it comes to action photography, as I'm sure you can tell ). And I've experienced exactly what John has stated, with 200mm being my maximum (same as yours) I only take the endzone shots when they are inside the 15 yard line. As far as sharpness, that doesn't seem to be as much a challenge in daylight as it is in low light conditions, which is where I've had the biggest challenges. Learn from John's success and my mistakes and you'll probably start getting this down!
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Old Sep 16, 2009, 9:52 AM   #13
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LOL - I completely missed the shots were two separate people. That explains a lot on the differences between the two shots. Oh well, please parse out my comments accordingly and sorry for the confusion.
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 12:46 AM   #14
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I used my K20D and Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED for this park football shot, the subjects were approximately 15 yards away.
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My Flickr Photos

Pentax K-5 K20D K100D
Pentax DA 55-300mm 4-5.8 ED / Pentax M 200mm F4 / Pentax Tak K 135mm 2.5 / Pentax M 100mm F4 Macro / Tamron SP AF90mm 2.8 Di Macro / Pentax M 1.7 50mm / Pentax M 2.8 28mm

Last edited by Rodney9; Sep 26, 2009 at 12:48 AM.
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Old Sep 28, 2009, 9:56 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the feedback.
Here are a couple from my attempt last Saturday.
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Dan E.
Z-Series Photography
Idaho Memories
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