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Old May 5, 2007, 4:22 AM   #31
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I must admit that I find the thesis that somehow shooting in Av and M are OK, but shooting in Tv is likely to lead to poor results is ridiculous.

Selecting Tv, Av, M or P are essentially irrelevant if you understand your equipment. When you are selecting an exposure you should be monitoring shutter speed, aperture and ISO. All of them are important, and when lighting conditions change or indeed your conception of the image you are trying to capture changes, you will do better to be aware of it than to simply abdicate responsibility to your camera.

To suggest that for every sports situation (even those involving for example high-school basketball) the most appropriate settings are maximum aperture is ridiculous. It smacks of a distinct lack of imagination and a CF card full of similar and frankly often boring images.

Is it really better to have 500 photographs that all look essentially the same or 20 that stand out because the photographer has a vision and made his equipment work to what HE was trying to show. **

$50 on NHL to go to ANY sporting event of your choice, shoot in Tv all day, and come back with some fantastic images.

** I suppose it depends rather on whether you are trying to sell the images to the athletes or the newspapers or as fine art. In the latter situations I would suggest that 500 almost identical images with just the subject differing is not exactly the optimal strategy.
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Old May 5, 2007, 8:04 AM   #32
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peripatetic wrote:
I must admit that I find the thesis that somehow shooting in Av and M are OK, but shooting in Tv is likely to lead to poor results is ridiculous.

Selecting Tv, Av, M or P are essentially irrelevant if you understand your equipment.

** I suppose it depends rather on whether you are trying to sell the images to the athletes or the newspapers or as fine art. In the latter situations I would suggest that 500 almost identical images with just the subject differing is not exactly the optimal strategy.
You're completely missing the point. The point is about giving advice to people. Of course there are always exceptions. But there are some basic principles that apply to certain genres of photography. Absolutely you can do some creative things by switching things up. But you have to master the basics first. And whether you like it or not, the basics of stop-action sports photography are:

1. Stop the action (achieve minimum shutter speed)

2. Isolate your subject from distracting backgrounds

There are more things - get interesting action, show faces etc which speak to your positioning and timing and not the camera settings.

To isolate your subject from VERY distracting backgrounds you need wide apertures or positioning such that the background isn't distracting. The latter can be difficult or impossible. So you must rely on the wide apertures. TV mode is a poor choice because it doesn't guarantee you that. Sure you can get some good shots in TV, but you lose control over aperture which is important.

You obviously don't want to listen to what sports shooters here are saying (Mark & myself) and you don't shoot sports yourself so feel free to ask any other sports shooter what they would recommend to people who want to shoot sports. You simply wont find a competent sports shooter that recommends it as the mode to shoot in for the MAJORITY of your shots in sports. You may not like the fact that I disagree with NHL on this - but that's beyond the point. The point is I have experience on my side here. I actually shoot this on a regular basis. When you've shot 40,000 sports shots then please come back and show me why I'm wrong. This is kind of silly - I'm arguing from experience and your arguing from conjecture and hero-worship. I still contend that if NHL or any other competant photog took up sports shooting as a sports shooter (which is generally paper sales or magazine or sales to parents) they would realize the advice myself and Mark are giving is very valid and that in general AV and Manual are much better choices for stop action sports photography and TV is the mode to show motion blur or panning.

Again, you don't have to like the fact that I disagree with NHL but I've got 40,000 sports shots and the general agreement of every pro sports shooter behind me on my side of this. What do you have to offer up besides hero worship of NHL? Have you ever shot these sports? If not, why doyou think you really know what you're talking about? It's like me saying to someone how to shoot macro shots and what modes or equipment they need. It's silly - I don't shoot macro. Sure ive taken a dozen shots or so - but hardly enough to give advice.

So let me say again - I also think NHL is a great photographer. But I also believe he doesn't have the experience in this area for these types of sports. Nothing wrong with that. Mark & I have more experience. You don't have to like it but until you can find an experienced sports photog who says different or until you actually shoot the genre you're chiming in on there's really no point to this.

So I'll offer the same suggestion to you I did to NHL - go to sportsshooter.com and find me a pro shooter that says what Mark & I are saying is wrong. Find me a competant sports shooter anywhere that says we're wrong. Give up the hero worship for a second and find an experienced sports shooter that contradicts what we're saying is the proper advice to people who want to shoot sports.

Now, when someone has mastered the 90% they can move on to creative shots.

So, I'll be waiting for your post to a link where you have a competant sports shooter saying what I'm advising is wrong. Or please have them come here and post. Save your hero worship and simply find someone who knows the genre to back up your argument.

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Old May 5, 2007, 9:36 AM   #33
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On second thought, lets leave conjecture asside and talk in specific examples.

Here's a track shot:

I contend you want to shoot with a fast enough shutter speed 1/500 to eliminate motion blur while keeping your subject isolated from the background while making sure your subject is still in focus. I argue that using AV mode and setting ISO such that you have ample shutter speed (while still not getting too high on ISO) is the best approach to achieve a good shot - because whether shutter speed is 1/800, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000 the shot will look the same. Assuming you do not want to show motion blur (if you do, remember thats when we said TV is the right mode). Please tell us how selecting a single shutter speed and allowing aperture to change and also risking that if you select a shutter speed that's too high the shot will be underexposed (because the lens can only open up so wide) will produce a better likelihood of success?

Or softball. Again, similar argument. If you want to stop the action - and 1/640, 1/800, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/8000 will all produce the same results - why would you select a single shutter speed and risk your dof changing (sun came out and aperture switches from 2.8 to 5.6) or underexposing (sun was out and went behind a cloud)? How does selecting a single shutter speed and letting aperture be variable allow for a greater degree of success? And by the way, you could decide you want more dof to ensure greaterchance of subject being in focus- so you dial in f4 instead of 2.8. But my argument is still the same. How is selecting a fixed shutter speed going to get you better results? I've provided some situations where selecting a fixed shutter could cause you problems? Can you explain how selecting a fixed shutter speed is a better approach? And remember,a stated goal is to not show motion blur

Think that fence behind her isn't going to be hugely distracting if you have more DOF? It's bad enough as it is - but I don't have a 400mm 2.8 lens.

By the way you should also know this shot was 166mm at 2.8 and I had about 6 feet behind me before I was at an 8' fence - so please leave out the 500mm lens at f8 providing the same FOV and same dof.

Or how about soccer? again got some annoying backgrounds. So if I don't want to show motion blur, how does picking a fixed shutter speed AND LETTING APERTURE BE VARIABLE (remember I suggest if lighting is constant you should control both dof and shutter speed to ensure you're exposing properly for faces and not uniforms) give you a better chance of success:

Again - there's that annoying fence in the background - the type of stuff that abounds in ameteur sports areas but isn't 10 feet behind a bird over the ocean.

Now I realize these shots are boring and un-interesting to you peripatetic, but put that asside for a moment - or better yet show an illustration with some of your more interesting sports shots where you were using TV mode. So, assuming you can't find a sports shooter, extrapolate from your own experience and suggest how TV mode provides a better chance of success when shooting in these conditions. Again, you may not like my selection of shots or angles and I'm guessing you don't have shots from these sports to post so extrapolate - if someone wanted to shoot these sports how would TV give them a better chance of succeeding. I've stated that AV or manual will allow you to control DOF so you minimize distracting backgrounds (while still giving you the control to select a narrower aperture if you're not comfortable shooting wide open or a particular type of shot requires more DOF - my pole vault I closed down the aperture on to f4 to give me some extra room because the background wasn't so bad but it was on the hurdles). And I've stated that a shutter of 1/640, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/8000 would produce essentially the same results (except the softball - I wanted at least 1/1000 but my iso levels ensured I would get at least that and whether it was 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000 or 1/8000 I could get my results and guarantee the background distraction was minimized) And I've stated the risk of TV is you could underexpose because of sun or shadows or aperture could close down for the same reason.

As for shooting Manual? The benefit there is you expose for faces and not uniforms. Navy blue jersey and white jersey in sunlight - you'll get over a 2 stop swing in exposure in same light - but if skin tones are the same you'll have more PP work to fix the skin tones. And if they're wearing helmets - lacrosse, football you may not have enough face detail left because it's too underexposed.

So, tell me again how TV mode will give a better chance of success in these conditions.

edit - sorry, I forgot you mentioned basketball. OK here's another real life situation - I go into the gym and set my aperture to 2.0, ISO to 1600 and take a couple test shots of the home team in white. The camera meters the shot at1/1000 - I know that's silly so I set to manual and try a few more. I finally decide 1/400 is the right speed at 2.2. (Now, here's why manual is the best mode for success. Experience tells me 1/400 is the slowest shutter I want to eliminate annoying blur inarms - still a tiny amount in hands and ball but not bad. Actual experience also tells me that shooting below 2.8 is very difficult so I don't want to shoot at 1.8 unless I have to. Now, if I used AV mode and left it at 2.2 the camerachooses 1/1000 and the shot is underexposed by more than a stop - bad news at iso 1600. If I choose shutter priority because - as you suggest- it is just as good and appropriate for sports as the others - the camera will close down the aperture 1 1/3 stops - again, results are just as bad. Well, just dial in -EC you say. Oh wait an opposing player is in the frame and metering changes nowthe cameragoes from f2.2 to f1.8 (and runs out of room) but I'm 2/3 off proper exposure AND i'm shooting at 1.8 which is more difficult. So, because lighting is constant, manualprovides you the best chance for success in basketball. You tend to learn things like this when youactually shoot sports instead of just hypothesize about it.

So - the moral is - it isn't about necessarily using the widest aperture - the moral is - in sports DOF is critical. It's just as important to a good shot as correct exposure and MINIMUM shutter speeds (the key being minimum - please see above). In TV mode you lose control over your DOF and you have higher chance of underexposure in changing light vs. AV (in constant light any credible, experienced sports shooter will usually advise manual mode so you control both DOF and speed).

Does that adequetely explain why TV is in general likely to produce more problems for the shooter than AV or manual for the types of sports we're discussing?

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Old May 5, 2007, 5:11 PM   #34
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Point number 1:

As to a specific example where having the right shutter speed and an underexposed photo would be better than a properly exposed photo with a shutter speed too slow - it's easy!

Assume you have a situation where you want 1/500 shutter speed. Nothing less will do in this situation. You have an f2.8 max aperture lens. However you have a problem; there is not enough light. So you have a choice:

1. Use Av set aperture to f2.8 and expose (correctly) at 1/125.

2. Use Tv set shutter at 1/500 and expose at f2.8 (two stops underexposed).

3. Pack up your gear and go home because you don't have the right equipment.

Which option is better?

Obviously #2 is better.

You have stopped the motion at the expense of underexposing by 2 stops. This can often be mitigated by a bit of work in processing the image - you will have a bit of extra noise, but some basic noise reduction can help that, as can some special "grain" filters to make it look cool and film-like. This processing need not be anything to do with RAW, you can shoot JPG and still automate this sort of thing over hundreds or thousands of images by using DXO optics or Adobe Photoshop Bridge.

If you chose #1 however your shot is worthless and there is NOTHING you can do in processing to get it back, because the photo is blurred.

This was the point that NHL made and you have ignored.
I would have thought that after 40,000 sports shots this would have been obvious to you.

Holding your fingers in your ears and chanting:

... la la la I can't hear you ... la la la I've taken 40,000 sports shots ... la la la

Does not address the point. If we're wrong you have to say why.

Point number 2:

You seem to assume that the way to take sports photos is to set an aperture and then leave it there?

In any mode you can adjust your shutter speed and aperture to suit the shot. The selection of P, Av or Tv or M is purely a matter of saving some little time before taking the shot.

I repeat when you look through the viewfinder you can see both aperture and shutter speed. If you don't know what they both are then you are not in full control of your equipment.

As for some examples:

Take a look at the winners from the Press Photographer of the Year competition in the sports categories.


Have a look for both 2006 & 2007.

You tell me how many of those shots COULD NOT have been taken in Tv mode.

NHL is a (minor) hero of mine, but that is besides the point. He happens to be right in this instance.

Point number 3:

If your aim is to get maximum isolation of the background then there are potentially many ways to do that, and depending on subject distance, distance from subject to its background, the range of focal lengths you have available to you and your available apertures you have a range of options.

Using a longer focal length is very often a better way of getting that isolation than using a wider aperture. But you may want to use a specific shutter speed for that focal length to stop motion completely or get the amount of blur you want.

So it depends on the venue and the equipment and where you are able to stand and a host of other factors too. If your imagination is really so limited that you feel that under all those possible variations the best thing you can do is to switch to Av mode and open the lens to its maximum aperture?

And if that has been your modus operandi for 40,000 shots then perhaps you aren't too keen to hear that there might just have been a more interesting way to proceed on some of those occasions.

Why for example is it so dreadfully important to always try your best to isolate the subject from its background? I have seen some very interesting shots where the photographer has taken precisely the opposite approach with brilliant results. Give it a try sometime - you might be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve if you give yourself a mission to place the subject in context. Make it important that it's a little-league game and stop trying to pretend that they are professional athletes.

I would say that except for the hurdler in all of the other shots you have posted above you have utterly failed to adequately seperate the subject from its background, and yet 40,000 shots later you still keep on trying the same method. And if it turns out that the conditions and equipment you have available to you are such that you cannot isolate the subject then perhaps you should be trying to use the background as part of the photograph instead of trying and failing to hide it.

I don't suppose you've ever seen the work of Hans van der Meer?


Now all of what I have written above sounds very harsh, and perhaps unfairly so. You ARE good at what you do. And you do have a lot of valuable experience that you generously share with those who post on this forum, and I have certainly learned a lot from your posts. But just because someone disagrees with you in your specialist area doesn't mean they are idiots, and it doesn't even mean they are wrong.
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Old May 5, 2007, 8:05 PM   #35
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You've missed my point entirely. When KNOWLEDGABLE, EXPERIENCED sports photogs disagree stronly I listen. Unfortunately you are not an experienced sports photog. You have no personal experience upon which to base your opinions in this matter. And, as much as I respect NHL - he has very limited experience in this genre as well. You're arguing a point upon which you have neither the experience. Your opinion is contrary not only to my own experience but to the advice of any other knowledgable sports shooter. You're arguing for the sake of arguing. Go find someone who actually shoots sports and shares your opinion.

I have never claimed to be the best at what I do. I consider myself a competant sports shooter though and I know the principles very well. I continue to learn and practice and try to get better. Unfortunately, sports shooting is a unique animal so to speak - it is NOT the same as wildlife shooting. The only thing in common is moving subjects. Each has their own intricacys.

Mark and I disagree on occasion but I've seen he's a very competant sports shooter and he has a good body of work upon which to base his opinions. I have not seen any evidence from you or NHL to support a similar body of work on sports shooting. You'll notice, I don't argue with NHL regarding how to shoot birds. He's an excellent birder with more experience than I. I don't argue with Kalypso or Frank Doorhof about portrait or model work and techniques involved. But, when people who don't shoot sports give what I consider to be poor advice contrary to what I've experienced and what I've heard from those who do this type of thing for a living, then yes I push back.

So, at the end of the day you still haven't taken up the challenge. Find a person who actually shoots sports and we can all agree is competant - and have them dispute what I am saying.

As for NOT isolating the subject from the background - there are times when it works well - but the PHOTOGRAPHER should make the decision not the camera - in TV mode the camera can make that decision. The important part is, and I say it again - as a sports photographer YOU WANT TO CONTROL THE DOF. And unless you want to show motion blur all you care about is a MINIMUM shutter speed not a specific one. So if you want f8 to show more background, so be it - set your aperture to f8 and your ISO high enough to get the shutter speed you need. Simple as that. In TV mode, the camera controls the DOF.

You still haven't answered my specific questions - for the sports I spoke of and showed examples of - how would TV mode have been a better choice?

As for options about how to achieve subject isolation and my inability to do that - I say again, you are often constrained by your surroundings. Read the comment under the one softball picture. I could move back 6 more feet and that's it. Otherwise you're shooting through a fence. That's true in just about every sport - you can only back up so much - just like you can only get so close. Basketball gym - you have walls if you try to back up too far so you can't use a 500mm lens and get shots of the basket at your end. If you go up in the standsyou are shooting down on your subject - which is usually not a very good angle. Pros will mount cameras for pro and college games but that's mostly to catch dunks which don't happen so much in high school and below. So a shot from above of a lay-up isn't very interesting. So complete isolation isn't always possible. The goal is usually to MINIMIZE the background as much as possible. Also let's take the soccer shot - players are constantly moving. Think you can ask them to stay where they are so you can move back 20 yards and pull out a 500mm lens? no. If you start with such a lens and they move too close, what do you do? So, the reality is you do your best to minimize the fences, cars and spectators. Remember as a sports shooter you aren't taking just 1 or 2 shots. You'll take 100s. You may only use a few - papers usually want a dozen or so photos to select from. But you take several hundred and select the BEST dozen. If you spend all your time planning and counting on that one great shot and an official moves in between you and your subject you're SOL.

And, as for your point # 1 about either shooting at 2.8 and underexposing by 2 stops or going home. Well then, you didn't do your homework and have the wrong equipment. You either don't have a camera capable of high enough ISO, should get a 1.8 lens or use a flash. This point is utterly silly. You use the right tool for the job - period. If it's outdoors and you need to use flash you simply wait for the action to get in tight and in range of the flash. Indoors, not much different. But indoors, you should have a better tool. I haven't shot in many gyms where 1.8 and iso 3200 wasn't good enough. How many have you shot in where this was the case? This is a hypothetical argument with little merit. I would counter that a competant shooter would use a 1.8 lens and/or flash. If you could provide an example in your own experience where these 2 options would not have worked please let me know.

You can attack my work as much as you like - but until you either have the experience yourself or have another experienced sports shooter pick up your argument for you, you don't have much of a leg to stand on here. TV mode isn't evil - it is just the least likely to provide the resultssports shooterswant most of the time.

Now on to your arguments about seeing everything in the viewfinder and making adjustments in any mode. The key is to have to make as few adjustments as possible. In a 2 hour event you may take 400 photos depending on how much action is going on. You don't want to be fiddling with things every 10 minutes. If lighting is constant, manual mode is the answer - period. you have ultimate control and you don't have to worry about lighting changing and your exposure going off or your dof changing on you. In AV mode if your ISO is high enough to get the shutter speeds you want with room to spare you don't have to worry about an underexposed shot and you don't have to worry about the camera changing your DOF on you - this is true even if you don't want to shoot wide open - you select a dof that suits your needs and you don't want your camera changing it on you.

I still haven't seen anything in your response that is a real life argument. I respect your ability as a photographer but honestly without ever shooting sports, why do you feel you have the background to give informed advice on the matter? The only other sports shooter to enter this thread, Mark, is saying pretty much the same thing I have - he's just very polite about it and not confrontational like I am. You've got two experienced sports shooters saying one thing and you're trying to argue a platform when you have no experience yourself in the area. Seriously think about that. Isn't it possible that while you may not like my post and my confrontational manner here that I really do know what I'm talking about? What other sports shooter has disagreed with my premise or my examples?

Honestly - if a newbie photog wanted to know about shooting sports - whose advice should they listen to - experienced sports photogs or you? I've tried to explain why NHLs advice won't work well in many human sports situations and I haven't seen evidence from anyone that for the sports mentioned it does indeed work. It isn't about whose a better photog either. I know NHL is a better overall photog and for all I know you may be as well - I've seen some good work from you. But neither of you has the sports shooting experience Mark and I do. And I think we've both shown we're at least competant sports shooters in a variety of sports. You're dealing with theory and conjecture. If you honestly think I'm wrong, please go out and shoot 10 or so sporting events yourself. Then you will at least have some experience yourself upon which to judge whether I know what I'm talking about. I'm fairly confident you'll find out my advice is sound - but you may find out otherwise. And if you do, at least you'll have personal experience and evidence to back up your arguments.
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Old May 6, 2007, 5:36 AM   #36
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OK John, I think you have made your point pretty well.

I guess I must admit to bias here. There is no way that vanilla ice-cream is inherently any better or worse than chocolate. I happen to prefer vanilla, and so your experience with making chocolate counts less for me than it should. The fact that I find your sports photos uninteresting has nothing to do with their merits. [I happen to find your family photos far more interesting.]

If I go out and try to do the stuff you do I shall no doubt fail miserably. I might have a shot at making some vanilla though - I would naturally try to do the kind of thing that Hans van der Meer does.

I think you overstate your case somewhat, but then that is the nature of forums. I find it interesting that you would choose option 3. But I guess that is consistent with the advice you have given here on many occasions. I suspect that in a less argumentative time you might concede that option 2 might occasionally be a useful tool to pull out of one's toolbox when those circumstances applied.

I am happy to concede however that what people are generally looking for is advice about chocolate and your advice will give far better results on average than any alternative.

I must confess I have no idea where I would go to find such a thing as an experienced sports photographer to agree or disagree with you. Mark has pointed out certain types of sports where Tv would be a good idea, and you have effectively made the case for where Av is a better idea.

As for NHL I think he is neither vanilla or chocolate, but something more exotic - perhaps tutti-frutti, and I find his approach to different subjects interesting and refreshing.

If the 3 of us went to the same sports event we would all come away with a completely different set of photographs. I actually think that's pretty cool.
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Old May 6, 2007, 6:09 AM   #37
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Guys - We've all agree here that Av is great for sport, however I'm peripatetic in that:
-> What if the wide open aperture 'genre' of action photography is not what the photographer is after, but he's more after the "artistic" side and want to want to explore something out from the ordinary? Like theses: http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/mul...id=7-8738-8908

They also used strobes which is also against some "high-standard" arbitrary established by someone. The point here is there's no right or wrong way to use a camera (Tv or Av) or lens, but to let the imagination flow - Theses are also shot all in Tv and offer another 'genre' (tele or wide): http://www.daveblackphotography.com/workshop/0605.htm

I'm sure theses images have a lot of inspiration and thought behind (not better or worse mind you) -> They are just different and don't have to be the same 'style' of action/sport shooting - tutti-frutti is it? :lol: :-) :G
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Old May 6, 2007, 8:30 AM   #38
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NHL - i don't disagree that people should be creative. But sports shooting is very tough and my advice is usually to master the basics first. If someone is asking for birding lenses would you suggest a 24-70? Probably not - could you get some interesting shots with one? Sure. But a 300mm or 400mm is a great start. Is it sometimes good to have your subject (not necessarily in sports but any type of photography) greatly underexposed? Sure. But typically when someone asks for exposure advice you don't jump out and say "you should underexpose by 2 stops". That's the exception. Mostly you tell them to expose properly - learn the basics first.

Same here.

Peripatetic, here's a link to a 'how to' posted on Fred Miranda for shooting youth baseball. You'll see some of the same things I've been saying and this guy does it for a living. Now he recommends a 5.6 aperture - but the point is the same - he stresses clean backgrounds and controling DOF. Same points I've been making:


Here's another on shooting youth basketball from another pro. Notice - he suggests manual mode because the camera's meter can be fooled. Nowhere in his advice do you see TV mode as the suggested mode for novices. Has he probably used it? I'm sure he has. But he realizes, like Ive been trying to say: most people asking advice on how to shoot sports want to learn to shoot the types of shots they are used to seeing:


To potential sports shooters: If you want to skip the standard action shots, by all means go ahead. But if you think the action shots most consider to be basics then take a read. In the end we all have to develop our own style but for most novices it's good to get the basics first before trying creative alternative shots.

Its perfectly valid, Peripatetic that you don't find most sports shots interesting - that's OK. I merely submit that most people asking advice on how to shoot sports, DO find them interesting or they wouldn't ask. If someone asked for a good wedding lens and I jumped in and said my100-400L is the right tool for the job, I would expect people to jump all over me. Can someone get some creative shots with one? Sure. But it doesn't change the fact that it's poor advice. It's the tuti-fruti of wedding lenses - completely out of the box. But it's still poor advice to someone asking for what to get for their first wedding lens. You might even go so far as to suggest - get the standard wedding shots most people like/want before trying something like that. Similar here - not as dramatic of a difference. But your argument has now turned into "yes, AV is the best mode but who wants vanilla - go for something more creative".

I think we've beaten this horse to death pretty well :G

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Old May 7, 2007, 11:42 AM   #39
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From a sports shooting beginner, thanks to all the posters for their comments.

I can certainly relate my recent activities to some point that each of you made. John's advice I found to bemost helpful.

Thanks for the links too,John!

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Old May 8, 2007, 1:35 PM   #40
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is there anyways to make this thread something like a sticky to stay on top. The discussions will def be useful to many here.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"If there is anyway to keep this thread on top it would be great.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"
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