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Old Oct 14, 2010, 1:28 PM   #1
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Default First attempt at gymnastics

I am going to take some pictures at nephews gymnastics meet. 1st time for gymnastics. It will by in a high school gym. Maybe a little better than avg light for a gym (still not great). I will be using a Canon 40d with a canon Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens. I will not have much if any time to take some practice shots. What would be a good starting point with the settings.</SPAN>

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Old Oct 14, 2010, 1:50 PM   #2
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Do you have anything with a larger aperture?

Something like the 85/1.8 or 100/2.0?
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 1:59 PM   #3
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Default no, I hace a 50 1.4

didn't think I could get close enough to use it. Can you put an extender on it or will that change the f too much?

Last edited by gwill; Oct 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 2:32 PM   #4
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Unless you have floor access, you'll be too limited using an 85mm (or even a 100mm lens).

In a HS gym you should be OK for the majority - you'll have some issues for floor (since the mat doesn't reflect light so it's inherently darker than the court floor) and if an apparatus is by a wall so you don't get as much light coverage.

Here's what you'll need to do:
1) set a custom WB. Read the manual on how to do that.
2) set exposure mode to Manual
3) set ISO to 3200 (H)
4) set aperture to f2.8
5) set shutter speed to 1/400
6) set focus point to center only
7) set focus mode to AI-Servo
8) set shooting mode to continuous

Of course you should have time for test shots. Nothing starts on time. Unless you're planning on arriving late yourself.

During your test shots, you can determine how well exposed the faces are. Adjust your exposure up/down until FACES look good. So, for the test shot -zoom in as much as you can on a face. You may find as I said that when you switch to shooting an apparatus by a wall or floor that your exposure values need to change.

What level of gymnast are we talking about here? That will go towards the types of shots to take.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 2:38 PM   #5
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11 year olds
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 2:43 PM   #6
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It's not the age that's important it's the level. You could have an 11 year old that's a level 2 or level 10. So, gymnastics is quite different than other sports in that regard. As a specific example - the lowest levels will only be doing a handstand on the vault. They also follow the exact same routines on every aparatus - same floor, bars, beam (and, unfortunately, the same music). That has the benefit of being predictable - once you see a gymnast on an event you know the next 20 girls are all doing the same thing. As they move up that changes.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 2:48 PM   #7
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#1. You'll need to set custom white balance. There are several threads here on how to do that
#2. Set ISO to 1600
#3. Set your autofocus to center point only
#4. Set your camera to Av mode, f/2.8
#5. Take some test shots and see what you get
#6. Shutter speeds less than 1/400?
If yes, you'll need to bump ISO up to 3200 or switch to the 50mm/1.8
#7. Shutter speeds are over 1/400 or higher, now you may be able to drop ISO
#8. When you are looking at the shutter speeds, verify by looking at the test shots that the exposure is correct. Look at FACES - make sure the faces are properly exposed.
#9 Once you have the exposure dialed in, switch to manual mode so the camera sensors don't get fooled by either dark or light backgrounds or clothes.
#10 When you switch locations, double check your exposure (and white balance) and adjust accordingly because most gyms have widely spaced lighting and the conditions vary where you stand.

Be sure to post your results!
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 4:41 PM   #8
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level 3
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 5:04 PM   #9
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Yeah, I think you're still looking at basic handstands for vault there. The beam is the best even to get shots on because there are more poses - problem at level 3 is they won't hold them long. And there are some little jumps there. The floor exercise if you're close enough - again you'll want poses. Forget about the tumbling passes for the most part - even if lighting isn't bad, it's tough to get a shot that looks good. So you want to be tight when they pose at the corners.

On bars, those are simple as well - no change in direction - the only question will be whether you have the correct angle to shoot them from the front. Good thing is - you can get shots at 1/250 if need be. The important key to success - FRAME TIGHT - I mean stay at 200mm unless their little body doesn't fit in the frame and make sure the exposure and WB are correct (WB not an issue if you shoot raw). Botch the exposure or frame too loosely and shots will be wasted. Those keys are more important than fast shutter speeds for the type of shots you'll be taking.
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