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Old Jan 23, 2009, 10:09 AM   #1
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Well here is my first post asking for tips on how to make improvements to my basketball photography. The pictures have had minimum cropping because the gym is so small that I am really close. I have tried to increase the brightness a bit. These were shot as JPG instead of RAW with Canon XSi and either 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 prime lenses.

I welcome any comments and suggestions.

1.

2.

3.

4.

Thanks,

Andy
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Old Jan 23, 2009, 1:22 PM   #2
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Andy,

Great to see you posting. I think you're off to a very good start with these photos.

Overall the timing is very good, framing is good albeit tight (but that's a problem in smaller gyms and tight is better than loose).

The one common issue though that jumps out at me in these is White Balance. Every shot in the sequence has a different color cast to it. What WB setting did you use for these? Ideally you'd like to be able to set a custom white balance. That should work in 90-95% of the gyms. A few older light systems though make it impossible. But, let me know what setting you used here and we can go from there.

On to specific comments:

shot 1: GREAT timing - just as ball is leaving the hand. Focus looks pretty good and reasonably sharp. On the downside the shot is underexposed - what exposure mode (manual, av, tv) were you in and what were the settings (aperture, shutter, ISO)? But also importantly the shot is from behind the player - so you've got the back of his head rather than his face. That's the problem with layups when shooting right behind the rim isn't an option - you run the risk of player facing the other way. Nothing you can do to prevent it.

shot 2: Again nice timing. Focus and sharpness look good. But same issues as shot 1 - underexposed, and player's back and not his face.

shot 3: best of the series. Can you guess why? FACES. Good sharpness, great timing and the expression on his face makes the shot much more interesting than 1 or 2. Still a bit underexposed though. But a nice shot.

shot 4: weakest of the series - you've got a face, which is good, and decent action but the sharpness isn't there. Without exif data I can't say whether it's motion blur or just missed focus but it's probably a combination.

So, I think you're off to a great start. The next step is to get the white balance under control - we can address how to do that after you tell me what WB setting you were using.

The next two steps beyond that are:

2. Can we address underexposure. You have to give me the EXIF info on the shots for that - what aperture, shutter and ISO each shot had (as well as what exposure mode - AV, TV, Manual) you used. However, with only ISO 1600 available in a poorly lit gym we may hit a wall. It all depends on what exposure values were and whether or not you have ISO or Aperture left to give to brighten up the shots.

3. Shot selection. This is the toughest thing. Sometimes you can do your job right and the planets just don't align and you get a player's back and not a face. This is why I'll always shoot the player DRIVING to the basket as well as the basket itself. I'm guessing in the first couple shots there was opportunity to get a nice shot of the player driving. Those would have been fantastic shots if you were shooting from the other side of the basket

All in all though you're off to a great start. Congratulations!
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Old Jan 23, 2009, 2:12 PM   #3
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John,

Thanks so much for the feedback. The white balance has been a real issue for me. I have been reading as much as I can find and found an online video for setting the custom balance on the XSi. The video suggested getting a white board, taking a photo of it in the environment and then using it as the baseline. I tried that but figured I would have to fill the frame with the white and to do that I had to keep the boardvery close to the camera with the prime lens and of course that lighting was much different than on the court. [Question: Can I shoot the white board with a zoom then switch to the faster prime and have it work properly?] Anyway, it did not work very well.

But to answer your question I used Tungsten white balance as it seems to work the best. I have been shooting a bunch with CRW format and Tungsten, then using the white balance tool in Photoshop (trying to learn that software too) to adjust. That seems to work fairly good. But I could not find a way to adjust white balance on the jpeg files and instead just had to increase the brightness.

Now for individual details,

1) ISO 1600, f/2.0, exposure 1/500 sec, focal length 85mm, Manual camera mode, but for some reason Portrait (not sure why or what this does) style

2) same as in 1

3) ISO 1600, f/1.8, exposure 1/400 sec, focal length 50mm, Manual camera mode, Portrait style - and yes I agree about the faces, it is just really tough getting most of the body under the basket even with the 50mm that I like to get some from the corners as in 1 and 2.

4) same as in 3

On the baseline shots I am about 3 feet off the baseline. On the sides, the bleachers are only about 18 to 20 inches from the side lines so it is very tight.


Next time I will share some of the drives down the court but I really like the layups and in close shots since that's where I always shoot (I have very limited range but rebound well).

Thanks,

Andy


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Old Jan 25, 2009, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
But to answer your question I used Tungsten white balance as it seems to work the best. I have been shooting a bunch with CRW format and Tungsten, then using the white balance tool in Photoshop (trying to learn that software too) to adjust. That seems to work fairly good.
Try setting a custom white balance and see if that works.

Quote:
But I could not find a way to adjust white balance on the jpeg files and instead just had to increase the brightness.
It used to be you couldn't. I THINK (but am not sure) the new Lightroom software allows for WB adjustment on JPEG photos. Again, not sure but I thought it was the case.

Quote:
I tried that but figured I would have to fill the frame with the white and to do that I had to keep the boardvery close to the camera with the prime lens and of course that lighting was much different than on the court. [Question: Can I shoot the white board with a zoom then switch to the faster prime and have it work properly?]
OK, first you do need to have the white object under the lights - so go down to the court before warmups start and take your WB shot. It doesn't have to fill the frame just the center circle. And yes you can use a different lens. I'll leave my wide angle lens on for taking the shot.

Now, given the EXIF info there's not a lot you can do about getting better exposures - I think you're doing the best you can with the equipment you have. I wouldn't drop below 1/400 on shutter and you've already got your ISO maxed out at 1600. Some gyms are just plain dark. And just save you pennies for a new body down the road if you plan on shooting basketball for several years. Canon and Nikon (and Sony a700) have cameras now with great ISO 3200 and usable 6400. So far Canon hasn't shown any interest in pushing 3200 down to the xxxD series but you never know. And you can always upgrade down the road to the xxD model (whatever it is when you're ready to buy again).


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Old Jan 25, 2009, 8:10 PM   #5
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John,

Thanks again for the feedback and help. I will try some more with setting the custom white balance.

I didn't realize that I would be this limited with the XSi. But I can say that I am getting much better pictures than most of the other moms and dads. Also the Saturday games in the day time are going to be easier with the additional light.

Looking forward to soccer in the spring but it will be a while before buying a new body.

Andy
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Old Jan 26, 2009, 4:59 AM   #6
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griffina6 wrote:
Quote:
I didn't realize that I would be this limited with the XSi.
You're only limited because of the very poor lighting. That's a great camera but you've got a really dark gym. Sadly, that's the nature of sports shooting - oftentimes difficult conditions. It's a very equipment intensive hobby.
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