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08-12-2010, 04:25 PM   #1
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Advice Needed on Sports Photography

Hi All,
I am looking for some advice on shooting in a situation I have never done before.
In a couple of weeks, I am going to meet my friend in Penticton as he is doing the Ironman Canada. I am taking my photo equipment and hope to get some neat shots of athletes in action, particularly my friend while he is doing the race.
I have never done action photos to this magnitude before (the largest single swim start in all of North America(4000 competitors starting all at once)so I am hoping if anybody has any advice on how to go about this I would appreciate it.
I have a 70-300mm lens, the kit 18-55 lens, a wide angle and fish eye.
Should I look into renting perhaps a faster or longer lens? What would be a good one to rent if needed?
I am hoping to try for some closeups of my pal if possible. I am not sure what are good shutter speeds I should be shooting at? What other settings should I be using? What kind of metering should I have on? Auto focus or Manual?
Should I be using fill in flash in here?
Any other tips anyone has on this and anything else you can think of please do share. I am hoping if I can get some good shots I can frame them and give them to him.
Many thanks for any helpful advice you can give

08-12-2010, 04:48 PM   #2
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There are literally no ends to the possibilities, though most would be dependent on your own shooting style and limits with respect to location. TBH. a worst case scenario could call for a good tripod and long reach. To which I'd say, you might want to considered a 1.7x AF TC for your 70-300 if it can support it.

Other than that, it really comes down to your shooting style and needs. ie, many people like to take the incentive and move in on the action while others hang back and shoot from the crowd. Personally, I think the bold and beautiful are the ones who make best at events(the go-getters )

Here's another quick-tip I've picked-up over the years. In many places, If you look the part, you can get just about anywhere with a camera. Though I think this is highly place dependent. And some of the more populous areas's of BC may no longer buy into the whole photographers right of passage type of thing. But... it never hurts to try right?

Good luck!
08-12-2010, 06:39 PM   #3
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As mentioned, there are so many variables we can only give generalities which will be useless in most cases.

I would take the 4 lens (yes, even the fisheye) and not worry too much on the specifics. Iron Man events are not like jai alai speed, so you would be fine just shooting in P mode for the most part. Concentrate on the composition.

And the fisheye is what you might use for the crowded start - unless you are far away :-)

Shoot RAW for the extra leeway it gives you. It is not really as difficult or time consuming to convert them in a batch and tweak the really good shots that need some help, as some people will lead you to believe.
08-12-2010, 08:19 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by casil403 Quote
Hi All,
I am looking for some advice on shooting in a situation I have never done before.
In a couple of weeks, I am going to meet my friend in Penticton as he is doing the Ironman Canada. I am taking my photo equipment and hope to get some neat shots of athletes in action, particularly my friend while he is doing the race.
I have never done action photos to this magnitude before (the largest single swim start in all of North America(4000 competitors starting all at once)so I am hoping if anybody has any advice on how to go about this I would appreciate it.
I have a 70-300mm lens, the kit 18-55 lens, a wide angle and fish eye.
Should I look into renting perhaps a faster or longer lens? What would be a good one to rent if needed?
I am hoping to try for some closeups of my pal if possible. I am not sure what are good shutter speeds I should be shooting at? What other settings should I be using? What kind of metering should I have on? Auto focus or Manual?
Should I be using fill in flash in here?
Any other tips anyone has on this and anything else you can think of please do share. I am hoping if I can get some good shots I can frame them and give them to him.
Many thanks for any helpful advice you can give
The event is outside so your current lenses are plenty fast. The 70-300 gives you as much reach as you're likely to need. Yu can boost the ISO a bit if you need to.

There are a few things you could do to prepare.

One is to photograph your friend while practicing to check which focal lengths might work best, and to determine whether continuous AF is effective with your gear. For example, test whether your lenses can focus on your friend when he is approaching at high speed on a bicycle. Include your 18-55 n this testing, as a subject such as this at close distance can be very challenging. If AF doesn't work, don't panic. Just plan to pre-focus.

You can also experiment with shutter speeds. I'd recommend a minimum of 1/250 or bettter still 1/500 if you're using the long lens. I'd be inclined to set the camera on shutter priority. You can get away with slower speeds with shorter lenses, but it's easy to forget to make appropriate shutter speed corrections if changing lenses frequently. Of course, you can also play with slower speeds and panning, but I'd leave that until after you've got the bread-and-butter shots.

Another piece of prep is to visit the venues and plan some shooting positions- and get there in time to occupy key ones. Your friend should be able to advise of do's and don'ts in terms of how close you can get to the competitors, and where.

A good position for closeups of your friend may be on corners so you can get him coming at you. You can either stand on the corner and get him on the straight preceding the corner, or stand on the straight after the corner and get him while cornering. That sort of shot can be very exciting in cycling. Could be a bit tricky getting your friend, though, if the competitors are bunched up. You may not have a clear view, and the autofocus may choose someone other than your friend. Try to find a spot that will allow you to see him coming. One workaround for the focus issue is to pre-focus at a point that gives you the field of view you want, and wait for your friend to hit the spot.

Lens to use for a mass start depends in part on the venue. Check it out in terms of what vantage points are available, go to those points and play with lenses, and choose one. Mass starts can happen very quickly, so it's unlikely you'll have time to mess with changing lenses. (I like having two bodies for that sort of situation.) Pre-start positioning is critical. There is likely to be lots of competition for the really good angles, so know where you're going and get there early.

Have fun!

John

08-14-2010, 04:44 AM   #5
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Thanks so much for the advice and tips. Much appreciated!
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