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Old Feb 14, 2009, 6:39 PM   #1
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something a bit out of the ordinary for me... i don't generally photograph sports, but today i thought i'd try something new, so i went to a park in Redmond, a few miles away, to shoot a rugby game between two amateur clubs. the light wasn't great, especially at the beginning, though it got better toward the end of the game. i shot these with both my 5D and 40D, depending on which lens i needed at the time... the 100-400 was too long for the near-sideline shots, so i used my 24-135 for those...

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Old Feb 16, 2009, 10:56 AM   #2
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Hi Squirl,

And welcome to the wonderful world of sports shooting. Hopefully you'll catch the bug and continue to try some sports shots.

For a first time shooting sports, you did a pretty decent job. There are some things you should consider for next time out:

1. Make sure your shutter speeds are fast enough. Shot 2 is the most compelling of these shots but with a shutter of 1/200 there's too much motion blur. Bump up that ISO

2. Frame tight, crop tighter. That's the mantra. There's a lot of dead space in these photos - primarily because you are trying to include players that are too far apart. You want much tighter framing so the subject(s) fill the frame. Even on the first shot - much tighter framing would work better - the heads of players holding him up is enough. That type of framing will show more detail. It's really the player up top that is of primary interest. So tighter framing will bring out more detail in his expression.

3. Timing - this goes hand in hand with number 2. You want to time the shot so it's peak action Shots 4 & 5 players are too far apart, wait until they get closer.

4. backgrounds. This is the tough part about sports shoooting - minimizing those annoying backgrounds. There are 2 aspects to it - first using wide apertures/long focal lengths. That goes hand in hand with 2 & 3 above. Fill the frame with your subject - use every bit of that 400mm lens. The only time you zoom out is when the subject no longer fits in the frame. Shot 2 is the only frame where the background isn't a distraction. It's particularly an issue in 3 & 4 where the backgrouund is a parking lot. To some degree you're limited by the fact you have an f5.6 lens but you have to work within the context of your equipment so the way to get the best results is to have the lens at 400mm as much as possible. The second part is choosing your shooting position. This is where you have to balance the sun's position against the backdrop. If the sun isn't a compelling enough reasson to shoot from the opposite side of the field from the parking lot, then leave the parking lot behind you and shoot from that side of the field.

Again, don't get discouraged by my comments. Everything here is common issues we all run into when we start to shoot sports. We have a tendancy to shoot like we watch the game. Sadly, that's an important lesson - it's often very difficult to shoot a game and appreciate the game as a spectator at the same time.

Again, hope to see some more work from you in the future. Good luck!
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 11:04 PM   #3
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thanks, John... good tips! as you know if you frequent the other boards on this forum at all, i shoot a lot of landscapes and birds, and sometimes flowers, but this is my first real attempt at shooting sports, so i have a lot to learn!

you're right, i was more or less shooting as i watched... even though i played rugby myself for 5 years in high school and college, and knew more or less what to look for, i was paying more attention to the game than the camera... note to self: don't do that! i think next time i'll try using a lower angle, as well, maybe sitting on the ground along the sideline... though in a rugby match, that can be a risky proposition at times!

as for the shutter speed, yeah, given the flat, dreary light, i probably shoulda shot these at ISO400 or higher... another point to remember next time out! the 400 on the 5D is marginally long enough to reach the far side of the field, but good for most midfield action, and of course way too short for near-sideline shots. i did have a 24-135 on my 40D, which is wide enough for the closer work, but that lens doesn't focus as fast as it should for this kind of thing... it's primarily my landscape lens. i started the match with the lenses reversed - 400mm on the 40D, and 24-135 on the 5D, but found i couldn't back off as much as i wanted. now that i know about the tighter framing, i can go back to that original setup and probably get some better shots, since the 40D is a much better camera for sports than the 5D.

there'll be more matches over the next couple of months, and if i get a nice Saturday with a home game, i'll give it another go.... thanks again for the tips!
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