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Old Sep 8, 2011, 8:02 AM   #1
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Default First Youth football game

I will be taking pictures of my son's 3rd grad tackle football team this weekend. I have never shot football before what are some good starting points? I have a canon 40d with a 70-200 f2.8L. Games will be anywhere from 9am till 3pm.

Thanks
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Old Sep 8, 2011, 9:02 AM   #2
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Shooting tips:
  • get low to ground - sit or kneel, don't stand.
  • FACE, BALL, ACTION. When shooting plays that's what you want.
  • Exception to the above: sometimes you're shooting a lineman - the ball just won't be there. So just go for face/ball.
  • Get "safety" shots early - get shots of the players you care about in their stance or standing around early in the game so you have SOMETHING.
  • try to shoot from in front of the player - never from behind. So position yourself to give best opportunity - if shooting offense you want to be at line of scrimmage or beyond. If shooting defense you want to be behind line of scrimmage or just past. Think about the player you want to photograph and where his FACE will be when the plays happen. You want the face
  • Shoot portrait orientation for 95% of the shots.
  • Make sure your subject fills 2/3 of the vertical frame. This is key - it also means with those kids you'll only have about 18-20 yards of reach with your 200mm lens.
  • acquire and track your subject for a second to get good focus and shoot 3-5 shot bursts.
  • Choose the sideline to shoot from based on player if they're consistently one one side of the field. If you want to shoot general team choose your side based upon the sun - you want the sun in front of players not behind them.
  • keep moving with the line of scrimmage. Remember you can only 'reach' 18-20 yards from your position so you have to be right around the line of scrimmage every play.
  • Keep your focus point on an area of CONTRAST - on the numbers works great. Don't focus on white pants or solid jersey - the focus system needs that contrast to get good focus.
  • DONT CUT OFF FEET. Watch when you frame shots that you don't put the focus point too high and cut off feet.
  • Keep the zoom at 200mm until the player is too big for the frame. The biggest mistake newbie sports shooters make is framing extremely loosely. It's scary framing tightly but you'll get MUCH better pictures that way:

Camera settings:
  • Set focus mode to AI-Servo.
  • Select center focus point only - it's the only one good enough.
  • Expose for FACES - not uniforms or sky. This can be difficult because faces are in helmets. The faces are what is important. And it can be challenging in bright sunlight:
for example - faces in this shot look good. Highlights in uniform are completely blown. But it's better to see faces than properly exposed white.

  • Eventually you'll want to shoot full manual exposure. Why? Because the camera doesn't know how to expose for the face. If you're comfortable working with manual exposure then do so. If not, start in aperture priority and dial in exposure compensation to get faces looking right. Note: when light levels change or when you change your position relative to the sun (moving from sideline to back of endzone or other sideline) you'll likely have to change the EC value. Use all the down time between plays to review exposure.
  • Whichever you use, AV or M, dial in f2.8 on the aperture. You want 2.8 because the background will be ugly. You want shallow dof to help diminish that ugly background. In good light, choose an ISO that provides you with at least 1/1000 shutter speed AFTER you've made the adjustment to get faces exposed properly. This rule applies until you get to ISO 800. After that, you can let shutter speed fall to 1/500.
  • set shot mode to burst.
  • leave wb on AUTO.
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Old Sep 8, 2011, 9:56 PM   #3
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John I may have missed something but for shooting football do you suggest the use of continuous auto focus for the physical action-playing part of the game? I know from experience with my cameras that it eats batteries a lot faster than in other focus modes.

dave
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Old Sep 9, 2011, 5:01 AM   #4
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Yes, that's the AI-SERVO focus mode I mentioned. The idea is you want to track your subject and wait for the right moment. If you're not tracking and simply just relying on single-shot the camera may not achieve focus fast enough when the moment arrives. Also, in many instances there can be several "moments". Without doubt, using the battery grip is a good idea so you increase your battery power
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Old Sep 9, 2011, 5:06 PM   #5
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Thanks John...... the newspaper asked me to take my Fuji HS20 to the local high school game next Friday night and try to captures a few images of the game and especially the Marching Band. I told them I was not a sports hooter but they insisted I try in order to get better. So I read this post and missed that the first time around.

Thanks and I know my images will not near as good as a sports shooter but they are trying to get me to branch out and learn new things...... Yeah I know the Fuji HS20 is no one near as good as a D-SLR and won't do as good of a job.

dave
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