Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Post Your Photos > Sports & Action Photos

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Aug 17, 2008, 11:29 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 142
Default

I've been using my Canon 70-200 f 2.8 lens, along with my manfrotto tripod in most of the dog agility trials I've been photographing lately. This weekend I was at a trial in Butte, MT in a barn such as i've never seen before. It was so light in there it was practically like shooting in daylight. I still had to punch the ISO to over 1000 though.

Here are the setting I use on my 40D
-Spot Metering
-AI Servo AF

Any suggestions? With help from JohnG and others in here, I'm getting better but sometimes it feels like trying to hit a pinata in the dark.:-)
I just use the center AF light, i.e. when I get a focus lock the center mark is red. I *think* that means it's focusing on that spot, but I'm really not sure.
Focusing is probably the most difficult part of the shooting that I do. If I'm able, I focus on the dog, but as often as not, I prefocus on the jump bar or similar close object.

Another question I have concerns noise. When I converted this raw image to jpeg, the noise was horrible. I resized the image to a small size, the visible noise was almost gone. Anyone have any idea why?

Joe
Canon 40D
Canon 70-200 f 2.8 IS (I usually turn the IS off since I use it on a tripod)
Manfrotto Carbon Fiber tripod
Manfrotto 3130 Head.
Attached Images
 
Joe-1957 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Aug 18, 2008, 10:42 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Apex, NC
Posts: 218
Default

Thats a really nice shot..

Based on what you've described, your settings are probably ok. How far are you from the subject you are shooting? With higher ISO, you need to be fairly close to the subject for really sharp images. For the 70-200, you should be no more than 30 ft or so (the subject should fill around 2/3 of the frame).

Are you shooting in Av or Manual? I'd suggest using Av to take a few test shots, then adjust to manual based on the results - spot metering will tend to overexpose dark coating dogs and underexpose light colors, so you'll want to manually set your exposure.

Is this image cropped or just resized? Some resizing programs can really affect the image sharpness.

What post-processing have you done to this? When I shoot in low-light (usually volleyball), I go through the following:

1. Crop/Straighten
2. Adjust light/color
3. Noise reduction (using Noiseware)
4. Sharpen (USM)

Keep shooting! You've got great equipment and the more you shoot, the better your timing and composition will get.


jschoenr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 18, 2008, 11:34 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 142
Default

I'm shooting in AV. I didn't do any PP to it. No cropping, just resized. The resizing program I used is the Microsoft Power Toy that adds a resizing option to the right click menu.
I try to get the shot correct, cause at the end of an agility weekend I usually have over 1,000 shots.

The distance varies. I *try* to be within 30 feet or so, but depending upon how the ring is set up that's not always possible. I've seen another shooter at some events, I refuse to do what she does. She's taken her stool and sat inside the ring, laid down on the ground, etc. All *very* distracting to the dogs. In fact, she's not allowed back in quite a few venues because of her behavior.

Thanks for your kind words and helpful suggestions!
Joe

jschoenr wrote:
Quote:
Thats a really nice shot..

Based on what you've described, your settings are probably ok. How far are you from the subject you are shooting? With higher ISO, you need to be fairly close to the subject for really sharp images. For the 70-200, you should be no more than 30 ft or so (the subject should fill around 2/3 of the frame).

Are you shooting in Av or Manual? I'd suggest using Av to take a few test shots, then adjust to manual based on the results - spot metering will tend to overexpose dark coating dogs and underexpose light colors, so you'll want to manually set your exposure.

Is this image cropped or just resized? Some resizing programs can really affect the image sharpness.

What post-processing have you done to this? When I shoot in low-light (usually volleyball), I go through the following:

1. Crop/Straighten
2. Adjust light/color
3. Noise reduction (using Noiseware)
4. Sharpen (USM)

Keep shooting! You've got great equipment and the more you shoot, the better your timing and composition will get.

Joe-1957 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 18, 2008, 1:13 PM   #4
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Framing and timing are great. But it's just not in focus.

First challenge - 2.8 is VERY narrow DOF - especially for a dog. It will be impossible to get the entire dog in focus or even most of it. So, as with most living subjects, the critical thing to be in focus is the EYES. That's going to be quite a challenge. You'll have to get lots of practice in to nail down your technique. In a situation like the one in the photo I suggest pre-focusing on the jump itself. As the dog gets to the jump (BUT BEFORE IT LEAPS) - you'll need to acquire focus on the dog's EYE area (not it's snout) and keep it tracking through the jump.

It's not going to be easy. But that's the challenge you face shooting at such low light levels.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 18, 2008, 9:14 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 142
Default

Thanks John! I know the DOF is tiny with such a narrow aperture. I tried opening the aperture a stop or so, but then I get too much motion blur.
I agree, it's a matter of practice. I have been prefocusing on the jump bar, but I haven't gotten it down yet to switch to the eyes.
I didn't even try to change the focus point once I'm prefocused on the jump bar, I didn't know the AF could switch that fast. Can it? I guess if any lens could do that, it'd be a Canon L lens like my 70-200 f 2.8
I really like the challenge of low light action photography. I can see my pictures getting better each trial as I learn new things.

Joe

JohnG wrote:
Quote:
Framing and timing are great. But it's just not in focus.

First challenge - 2.8 is VERY narrow DOF - especially for a dog. It will be impossible to get the entire dog in focus or even most of it. So, as with most living subjects, the critical thing to be in focus is the EYES. That's going to be quite a challenge. You'll have to get lots of practice in to nail down your technique. In a situation like the one in the photo I suggest pre-focusing on the jump itself. As the dog gets to the jump (BUT BEFORE IT LEAPS) - you'll need to acquire focus on the dog's EYE area (not it's snout) and keep it tracking through the jump.

It's not going to be easy. But that's the challenge you face shooting at such low light levels.
Joe-1957 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 23, 2008, 3:16 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
terry@softreq.com's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,538
Default

The shot appears a little dark. If this is an indoor shot, you probably need to crank up the ISO to at least 800 or perhaps 1600.

Basically shoot shutter priority, at 1/250th or 1/500th or whatever is the minimum to "freeze" the action.

Then let your camera pick the aperture. John G. is right, you'd hope that your camera will recommend an aperture of at least F4 or F5.6. If your getting F2.8 as the aperture, then you'd have to crank the ISO up to 3200.

I'm not sure a tripod is really going to do you any good - you'd probably have better mobility with a monopod. (just a straight stick).

The only advantage of a monopd is that it gives you a place to rest your camera other than your neck.

For this type of shooting, use your legs and move around. I probably wouldn't bother using a tripod or a monopd because it would impede my movement.

-- Terry
terry@softreq.com is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 23, 2008, 11:29 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 142
Default

I have the ISO at 3200 pretty much all of the time. I shoot on AV and let the camera get the fastest shutter speed, since at least indoors I'm almost always at f 2.8

As to the tripod, I've found that it's a necessity. A dog agility ring is about 100 ft by 80ft. (30 m x 28 m or so)
I have a monopod but haven't used it yet, I just got it.

Back to the ring, pretty much the only thing that works is to find a spot, (near a tunnel exit or a jump, for example) and take one or two pictures of each dog as they do that obstacle. When I first started, I tried taking shots all over the ring. That does not work for several reasons, a few enumerated below.
1. Not enough reach. I would need a 70-500 f 2.8 to be able to do that.:-))
2. Too many shots of dogs butts, I mean, who wants pictures of their dogs rear end?
3. If I move around too much and distract the dogs, I'd be kicked out on my ear.

The thing to do when photographing dog agility is to try to be as invisible as possible; *Not* to move around trying to get better angles in the middle of a dogs run. Heck, some dogs are even distracted by the click of the shutter. I just have to be very cognizant of what's going on around me.

That's why the best thing is to find a good spot, plop down my folding chair, set the tripod up so I can pan as the dogs go over the obstacles, then do my best. :-)

Joe
Kalispell, MT
Canon 40D
Canon 70-200 f 2.8


terry@softreq.com wrote:
Quote:
The shot appears a little dark. If this is an indoor shot, you probably need to crank up the ISO to at least 800 or perhaps 1600.

Basically shoot shutter priority, at 1/250th or 1/500th or whatever is the minimum to "freeze" the action.

Then let your camera pick the aperture. John G. is right, you'd hope that your camera will recommend an aperture of at least F4 or F5.6. If your getting F2.8 as the aperture, then you'd have to crank the ISO up to 3200.

I'm not sure a tripod is really going to do you any good - you'd probably have better mobility with a monopod. (just a straight stick).

The only advantage of a monopd is that it gives you a place to rest your camera other than your neck.

For this type of shooting, use your legs and move around. I probably wouldn't bother using a tripod or a monopd because it would impede my movement.

-- Terry
Joe-1957 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 24, 2008, 9:00 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
terry@softreq.com's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,538
Default

I think that's a good approach.

Find a spot, prefocus, and let the dog run into the spot.

I usually shoot wider angle, then crop after, to make sure I get the whole
subject in the scene.

Sometimes if you shoot a little wider angle, you'll get more light into the scene.

I shoot sports (occassionly) now, and I always shoot shutter priority, to make sure I get the shutter speed I'm looking for.

F2.8 is just too wide an aperture to get decent depth of field. Generally I go for F4 or F5.6 minimum.

I only would use F2.8 if the dog was standing with it's owner and I wanted to blur the background.

Anyways, the cool thing about digital is you can experiment to your hearts content and then have a look after.

Your photography can only improve with time, but if you get to a "plateau" where there's very little improvement and things start getting boring, then it's time to insert some new ideas into your photography.

I used to try out different lenses, because the same lens tends to get the same "biased" result. One day I would shoot with a wide angle telephoto, the next with a medium, and the next with long.

Some of the pro's will carry three cameras around their neck with three different length lenses so they are basically ready for anything.

The other advantage is they can pull in shots with different "looks" so that all their shots don't look the same.

So, I hope I'm helping. Good luck!
terry@softreq.com is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 24, 2008, 11:23 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 142
Default

At one of my first indoor trials, I didn't have my f 2.8 zoom. I had to delete all of the pictures, way too much blur at higher f numbers.
In Butte, there was a bunch of light in the arena, but even at f 4 the dog wasn't really in focus. The smaller aperture just doesn't stop the action at all.

Of course, outdoors is different, unfortunately most of the trials that I shoot are indoors in dark barns.

I know that there's a tiny DOF with f 2.8, but that's pretty much what I have to use. I don't have the luxury to try to shoot for a wider DOF.:-):-)

Joe

terry@softreq.com wrote:
Quote:

F2.8 is just too wide an aperture to get decent depth of field. Generally I go for F4 or F5.6 minimum.
Joe-1957 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 24, 2008, 11:23 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 142
Default

At one of my first indoor trials, I didn't have my f 2.8 zoom. I had to delete all of the pictures that I had shot over 2 days, way too much blur at higher f numbers.
In Butte, there was a bunch of light in the arena, but even at f 4 the dog wasn't really in focus. The smaller aperture just doesn't stop the action at all.

Of course, outdoors is different, unfortunately most of the trials that I shoot are indoors in dark barns.

I know that there's a tiny DOF with f 2.8, but that's pretty much what I have to use. I don't have the luxury to try to shoot for a wider DOF.:-):-)

Joe


Quote:


terry@softreq.com wrote:
Quote:

F2.8 is just too wide an aperture to get decent depth of field. Generally I go for F4 or F5.6 minimum.
Joe-1957 is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:58 AM.