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05-17-2021, 08:33 AM   #16

Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Columbus Ohio USA
Posts: 351
Looking forward to seeing some of the results. Post them here or in the sports thread

05-30-2021, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #17
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Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 8
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Experience gained, lessons learned

Last Sunday, I completed the two-day stint at my tennis clubís weekend meet. Altogether, I was at the site twelve hours, but I participated as a player on each day. One might say I used half of my time to photograph, and the other half to play tennis.

I had no false hopes of the outcome to begin with, action-shooting is not something Iíve done in the past. In fact, Iíve been somewhat avoiding it. But as they say Ďno pain no gainí, it applies also here. Even though Iíve been photographing a long time, the new specialization domains always take time to learn. I am not a hands-on person, I like to read about things first, then form my own synthesis on the information, and only then apply it to any particular task. I guess my scientific background shows in that.
In my own opinion, I made just about every conceivable mistake out there. It is therefore somewhat baffling with the positive feedback Iíve received from the club and the people involved. I feel a bit like the cow-wife in Gary Larsonís wonderful Far Side panel (1):

I shall endeavor to elucidate some of the points that Iíve thought about.

The best-laid plans..
In my discussions with the board and the officials, I had been given an oral description of the program. This plan had morphed into something completely different by the time it came into fruition. Originally there was going to be instruction and skill practice with the coaches, some organized games within the groups, and a tournament. The tournament was scrapped at the last minute, because there were not enough officials present, the time-table was pretty packed already and all the three courts were allocated to the groups. I had no foreknowledge of the people that were going to participate, except they were all people from the adult training groups (practicing once or twice a week with an assigned pro). From the photo angle, I honestly did not know what to expect. I used to attend Wimbledon every year when I was still a bachelor, and certainly this was not going to be like that. Turned out, the nature of the Ďactioní was pretty static. But then again, this promised to make my task easier. If only.

Know Thy Camera
I ventured into digital Pentaxland only some eighteen months ago. Iíve had a number of Super Takumars a long long time (for my Spotmatic II and Spotmatic F); these are complemented with some German M42/M39/M37 -glass. Altogether I possess about two dozen of these, and when I decided to buy a used K-5 for my photomicrography efforts, I noticed that the body was nicely suited for the old screw-mount lenses (better than my Nikons, not requiring any additional correction because of the more accurately matching flange distance). I then discovered the K-mount, and the huge availability of nice lenses. Iíve since acquired fully manual M-lenses, automatic A-lenses and then some newer AF-compatible lenses (I think the number is around forty now). I am so happy that Pentax has rekindled my interest in the small format. I just need to get familiar with all the buttons and levers and menus and such, they have nearly the same functions as the Nikon cameras, but there are some subtle differences. The devil is in the details.

The Sun Is A Harsh Mistress
Spring has been long-a-coming this year in Finland. Just two days before the event, it started clearing and warming up again, and on Saturday, the sun was shining from clear sky and the temperature was around thirteen degrees Centigrade (thatís almost warm). Bright sunshine and the resulting high contrast are not pretty effects in general (color) photography. Also it makes reading the DSLR preview display something pretty awful. I tried to chimp for a while, but it could not be done (not even in shade because of the awful diffused light from a very thin layer of upper atmosphere clouds), everything seemed black (some of it was, but more of that later). I wear glasses but my eyesight is not so bad, and I donít think the K-5/K-3/K-1 displays are particularly dim. Not seeing what I had just shot caused the problems to mount. I read someplace that there are accessories available for this kind of problem, like eyecups for the entire display.

So many toys, so many systems
For this tennis event and on Saturday, I had an assortment of glass from different generations, and it turned out to be a logistical nightmare. I am not familiar enough with the Pentax system to remember in each turn to adjust the cameras to the required settings, and it resulted problems. Some I could rectify on-site, but some caused me trouble (exacerbated by my inability to chimp). My lesson learned from this was that on Sunday I had only A-type lenses. I also left the tripod home because many people were tripping on it. Next time it is coming along, I feel unsupported without my tripods (my Fotometal stand/tripod that Iíve tuned for outdoors use weighs ~50lbs; that gives one support).

Dial M For Mistake (or Miracle)
I started Saturday by taking some general shots of the premises. I used a Pentax-M 24mm, setting the mode to M. There were still clouds in the sky, so the proper exposure came to 1/some seconds @ f/6.3. I then switched to the 70-210mm Pentax-A, intending to shoot Tv mode as I had planned, dialed in 1/2000s, but I accidentally remained at full Manual mode. The result came out like (2):

If I had actually switched to Tv mode, the camera would have adjusted the aperture, but now it just stuck where I had set it previously. Miraculously these modern Raw files contain an incredible amount of dynamic data, so adjusting three stops more gave me (marginally) useful images. My shooting practice turned to be a fiasco. For the time Iíve used DSLRs, Iíve used only M and A modes; indeed, my Nikon cameras only have MASP modes to select. In the future, Iíll stick to M only. Even that appears to be behaving slightly differently on Nikon and on Pentax (regarding Auto ISO).
If only I could have chimped my pictures in timeÖ

Mommy mommy, my Tv has no depth control
After some time, I noticed that I was not in Shutter-automation mode and switched to that. I failed to think it through, though. For some yet uncovered reason my ISO was at 3200 (I never use over 1600 in daytime). In the Tv mode, one selects the shutter speed the camera adjusts the aperture. When the sensitivity is high, the proper exposure requires the camera to adjust the aperture. Which then ruins the separation. I think I am not going to use Tv in the future, because DOF control is actually quite important to me. The Pentax-only TAv-mode is interesting, and Iím going to experiment on that (I honestly donít know what use the Sv mode has). Iím repeating myself, but I am going to switch permanently to the M mode. I gradually got things under control, but like the one below, the results are not photographs of the tennis game per se (3):

Hocus Focus
The autofocus is probably a wonderful thing, Iíve just never learned to use it. Using automatic focus feels like the camera is just a point-and-shoot, and it is currently a bit uncomfortable for me. I realize that in action photography AF is basically a must these days. One just needs proper equipment and the skills to use it. I told my purveyors to find a Sigma 120-400mm HSM for me, that will serve me fine next time. I ran into a problem with AF this time as well: maybe in the future the cameras will have AI that can prevent see-through obstacles focusing: when I shot through the fence, AF focused to that, not the person behind. Only by accidental oversize DOF did some of these pictures remain relatively sharp.

My portrait idea was received favorably, taking those kind of portraits is not a common practice here in Finland. Attached is one of the images, this time in B&W ( lens is 85mm f/1.4) (4):

In LF photography I use Rodenstock (8x10 lenses) and Schneider (4x5 lenses). The color profile of the German lenses is very different from the Japanese ones, everything is neutral, almost subdued. Nikon colors are pretty neutral compared with other manufacturers (I used also Minolta at some time), but Pentax colors are something else, they have an effect on me like Fuji Velvia some years ago. Whew! I therefore sometimes use that as an attention-getter, also in these pictures. (5)

One more: here is the club logo that I tried to capture in a slightly different setting. The model is one of the coaches, a national level tennis professional. She has a radiant personality, and I tried to capture that in the second shot. (6)(7)

About a hundred pictures were selected to be presented, some of them will appear in the newsletter. I am going to do an architectural shoot of the new building sometime this week, but that is more in my comfort zone, Iíll hardly encounter any difficulties, Iíll just need to use good light. And as is typical, the inside of the building is like an industrial complex, very easy to get artsy pictures.

Summa summarum, I got some valuable experience, and hopefully learned a thing or two. I am going to pursue tennis photography further. A few days before the event I managed to find a wonderful book specifically on tennis picture-making. It is targeted mainly to aspiring commercial sports photographers, but it is easy to read and the advice is valid and clear-cut without being to simplistic. For the little money that it cost, it is worth reading:
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-1  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-1  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-5  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3  Photo 
06-26-2021, 05:31 AM   #18
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Join Date: May 2021
Location: Lempššlš
Posts: 122
The last photo is a really fun one, I like it.

I don't know if modern Pentax DSLRs behave differently, but I've also observed strange/unusual behaviour with the Shutter priority (Tv) mode of my old K10D camera. A few days ago I was trying to take pictures of a moving vehicle. I tried to use the Tv mode to increase the shutter speed up to 1/500s..750s range to get a reasonably sharp picture. I had the ISO setting in automatic with the full 100..1600 ISO range. However, the camera refused to increase the shutter speed past 1/250s or so because the kit zoom lens was already at its max. aperture of f/5.6. It seems that in Tv mode the camera doesn't automatically increase the ISO setting when a faster shutter speed is requested. The photographer has to select a suitable ISO setting in advance to be able to get the desired shutter speed.

The way I expected it to work was to automatically increase the ISO when a faster shutter speed is requested.

Program AE settings: auto 1/125s, auto f/8, auto ISO 100
---> Switch to Tv mode: set to 1/250s, auto f/5.6, auto ISO 100
---> Increase speed: set to 1/500s, auto f/5.6, auto ISO 200
---> Increase speed: set to 1/1000s, auto f/5.6, auto ISO 400

and so on until the max. ISO setting is reached. In my old camera it is just ISO 1600.

Last edited by artrasa; 06-26-2021 at 05:32 AM. Reason: just a typo

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