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03-25-2012, 08:05 PM   #1
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Fight shots setting the Shutter speed on a K-x

I do boxing and Mixed Martial arts photos around the west coast and I still consider myself a photography novice. I want to adjust my shutter speed because the auto modes are constantly leaving me with a blurry set of photos... probably get 100 good shots out of nearly 1,000 per event.


what would be an optimal setting for low light fast paced shots? How do I set my TV settings or should I? should I flip it to manual and go 1/400 and iso 2000? that is what I have read in boxing photo threads.


any good advice?


-Clinch



03-25-2012, 08:22 PM   #2
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this is a good example of the blur I experience in fights

03-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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A little hard to say exactly without having the EXIF data to see what the camera is using. However, if you are getting motion blue, which you are, then you need a faster shutter speed, simple as that. How you achieve that is the question. I would use TAv mode and let the ISO go where it has too. But I do not think you have TAv on the k-x if I remember right.

So, you need to find a speed that allows you to stop the motion, maybe that is 1/500 or maybe it is 1/1500. I've never watched a fight so no idea what the speed you need is. Anyway set the camera to Tv, set the speed you need and then adjust your ISO so that the aperture will be within range. Point at the lightest area and take a reading then at a darker area and take a reading. Set ISO so that as the camera adjusts aperture both of those areas are within the cameras range. If the aperture starts flashing you are out of range and need to adjust ISO more.
03-25-2012, 08:59 PM   #4
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at my next event I will shoot the first fight on my non event batteries

I think I will start with 1/500 and a good iso I'm used to at 1600 I will review my shots right after it's over looking closely for blur and adjust accordingly and switch batteries. (reviewing might take too much juice out of them)

I have had a few cash offers for event coverage but did not accept fearing I would have too many blurry shots


it's an incredibly difficult practice to shoot through the cage and honestly I find it easier to shoot 1,000 plus shots in manual focus which makes it very difficult to drive home from the event seeing the wear it takes on my eyes and brain.

thanks for the advice

I will be sure to post my results

03-25-2012, 09:01 PM   #5
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I shoot manual almost exclusively. The only time I change up is when I'm in HDR mode and I shoot Aperture Priority.

I shoot football, baseball and off road racing in the sports genre. How I taught myself was easy. I looked through photography forums such as here and other forums, looking for those shots that stood out. If the EXIF information was still embedded, I looked at that to see where I should be in regards to my settings. With football and baseball, it was just a tad simplier. Shutter speed was my main setting. I set my shutter speed, then I would adjust my ISO to get my exposure where it needed to be. Aperture was a no brainer since it needed to be as wide open as possible. With off road racing, I noticed that shutter speed could be slowed down, and I needed a little more depth of field. Again, ISO was adjusted once those two settings were set. I used a DOF calculator to help me figure out where I needed my aperture for off road racing.

I highly suggest surfing around the web looking at quality MMA shots and looking at the EXIF. If you have Firefox, there is an add-on that adds a right click option to look at this info.
03-25-2012, 09:09 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I'm no where near smart enough to understand what you just said
03-31-2012, 02:55 AM - 7 Likes   #7
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^^

What Black Mesa is talking about with EXIF data: It's information from the camera that is mixed-in/added on to the image file. You can use your photo editing software to view it, or if you're browsing flickr for example, you can click on the camera name to the right of the pic like this:



This will take you to this sort of screen:



Where it'll list all the capture information from the camera. It'll say what shutter speed, aperture, focal length, the lens, body, flash (if it fired) etc etc

So it's a good way to find out how people are achieving the images you need - go to flickr, search for some fight/sport shots, take a look at the EXIF, and you'll see what settings they were at. You can also see this info by viewing the properties of an image on windows, and I presume somewhere similar on a mac.

Quick Guide

What you're going to find is that, especially for indoors and low lighting sport photography, you will need either fast (and expensive ) lenses - or to bump the ISO up fairly high to get the shutter speed you need, which on lower-end camera's, can introduce a lot of unwanted noise. There is a reason pro's have 70-200 2.8's, or 300mm 2.8's, and they cost a LOT!

For those of us who don't have money to blow on such items? Well, there are a few things you can do.

1. Forget auto mode for a day.

When you are on AV, or TV, or Auto-whatever, the camera is trying to get everything in your shot, and mix it so that the end result is "balanced". It will not know, nor care, what elements are in your shot, or why you are shooting them.

Your first shot for example. It has

A large portion of the sky
  • A large portion of the sky
  • A bit of the fence
  • The two fighters


It has tried to expose for all of them at the same time - but with the sky being so bright, the guy's back, the camera-man, as well as the fence, are becomming almost completeley black. You need to tell the camera, "Ok, I'm taking a picture of the fighters, they're my subject, they are the thing to expose for."

How to do this? A few ways.

If your lighting is going to stay constant, and your going to be shooting a lot of shots in the same area (as in that pit/arena bit), go to manual. Start at say 1/300 shutter speed or more, get your lens wide open, then set your ISO to whatever/anything/a starting point. Take a test shot, and see if the subject is correctly exposed. Then take a look at the rest of your scene and decide what's important. Are the fighters correctly exposed? Has the sky gone pure white? Will that matter if I'm trying to show the fighters? Should I angle down a bit so the sky is'nt there? Should I try and get a middle ground of everything?

Once you start asking those things, it then becomes more like little logical steps, rather than letting your camera do the guess work. Over time it becomes easier than you think.

Are the fighters blurry? Yes? - Ok, increase the shutter speed by 3 clicks (one stop of light) - If you increased your shutter speed, you now need to adjust either your apeture or ISO to compensate. Your shutter speed went up by a stop, and since your lens can't open up any more than it already is, you need to increase your ISO by one stop to even it out - so go from 400 iso for example, to 800.

Take another shot

Ok my fighters are no longer blurry, are they too bright? Yes? Well you can either turn down the ISO, or close your aperture down.

Take another.

All ok? Great! You can now leave those settings as they are to use as a starting point.

Sine the lighting is pretty much the same, and your subjects are the same, you don't need to change the settings much at all throughout the night. If the lighting is constant, once your settings are set, they're set! If you do need to change something, you can try to pre-emptively see it, and adjust accordingly.

Let's say the fighters are moving to the other-side of the ring- hold up - it's brighter over there. Guess how much brighter, and then turn your shutter speed up slightly to compensate. Take another shot, check it again, take another, check, and repeat. How about if it's outisde and the sky is getting darker as the night goes on? You know it's getting darker, so as you review your shots, compensate for it! Go a little lower with the shutter speed again, if it's too low, you will need to insrease that iso, repeat, repeat, and be checking all night - the more you work in that manual and logical way, the quicker you will get at adjusting the settings on the fly, and most importantly, you will be conrolling the elements of the picure, and telling the camera exactly what you want it to do - not what it thinks you want. Practice with this again and again, and it'll become second nature, leaving you to think about composition too, and everything all at once. :P

As a tip - if your shutter speed is just too slow, and the ISO is getting so high that you don't want to push it any further, you can deliberatly under-expose by a third/two thirds/one stop by increasing shutter-speed, and then add that eposure back into the shot while editing. This can sometimes result in less-noise than you would have had maxing the iso too high.

Looking at the two shot's you linked, they seem to be at different end's of the spectrum. Your first is at (according to the EXIF) f4, 70mm, ISO 200, 1600 - that shutter speed is too probably too high, and at 200 iso as well, so you have a lot of breathing room left in that.

Stabalising Longer Lenses

As a sort of guide, you need at least 1/focal length to get a shot steady, and that's before taking into account the movement of the subjects. So if you're using a 200mm zoom lens, you should be aiming for at least 1/200th second to get a steady handheld shot. If you use telephoto, maybe get a monopod/tripod, or stabilise yourself against a wall/post/anything to make your body more stable.

Also, don't underestimate motion blur in your shot. In sport, people expect movement. If you capture a punch just before it lands, and it is completely frozen, you will probably lose the power and force of that punch when the viewer looks at it, it could look flat/too static.

If the camera just isn't working for you, you've upped the ISO so high that the picture is noisey as hell, turn it black and white. Colour noise is the most distracting at higher ISO levels. Conver to black and white, and you can rescue/create some great pictures where colour just isn't working.

Similarly don't focus all your time on getting that crisp-clean-blur-free shot. See what else you can get. Do the fighters take breaks? Get in-close as they're resting, capture the fatigue on their face. Capture the crowd - grab a wide angle lens, and get a wide view of the arena, capture that atmosphere.

Finaly, push the limits of the camera. Whack it up to the highest ISO it can go and see if you can pull off a shot, use burst-mode and fire off a bunch of shots, practice following the fighters movements and panning with them while taking a shot. The more you push what you have, the better you will understand what to buy next.

Ok I've rambled on far too long here, and my coffee is cold!

Hope that helped....or helped someone at least...

Woj

Last edited by Tom Woj; 03-31-2012 at 03:28 AM.
04-03-2012, 07:00 PM   #8
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Tom Woj,

This has got to be one of the most helpful posts in any thread in any forum ever! I appreciate this very much.

04-03-2012, 08:25 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sage97 Quote
This has got to be one of the most helpful posts in any thread in any forum ever! I appreciate this very much.
No problem, sage, glad I could help. Just noticed a whole bunch of typos so I'll clean that up at some point. Trying to set up a blog at the moment too so I can get some other little guides out there.

As a side note, I was looking through Time Magazines 100 Greatest Photo's the other day, or something like that, and a shot reminded me of this post. You've probably all seen it at some point or another:



It just reminded me again about how, especially for editorial work, you don't always have to get that action shot. Such a great image, with Ali looming over his opponent with that powerfull expression. I love it!
04-04-2012, 02:50 AM   #10
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Tom woj.... Let me no when your blog is up coz your such a good writer and even though I won't use this technique for sports it will be used for everything else I shoot lol
04-10-2012, 01:39 PM   #11
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Thanks Tom \o/

Thanks for the very helpful response Tom.

I was in the same situation with being new to the Kx and trying to capture my daughter while at her riding lessons. The lighting at the stable is horrible. I noticed they have the lights on for the older aged groups but not the smaller children. (I really to ask about that :S )
Again, Tom, your descriptive writing is really helpful and engaging.
Keep up the good work and I will too!!
07-24-2012, 10:34 PM   #12
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Dear Tom.

First off I apologize for not coming back to this forum quick enough to see your response. IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE !!!!!!!

Thank you so much for your time and big ups for your knowledge and assistance.

I would like to keep in touch to let you know how it works out for me feel free to PM if necessary


Also.... looking at that hot 20-200 2.8 on the bay

$770 is not far away from my current budget but I want to develop my skills more first


Thanks a million dude!
07-27-2012, 03:40 PM   #13
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Looking at your shots, it would seem that you are shooting through the "fence" or "cage" too.
That is another problem since it creates shadows or will create a "dimmer" exposure.
The camera exposes to those shadows thereby what you get is a lesser "recommended" (by camera) shutter speed.
It would help you out a lot if you avoid the obstructions and maybe you can shoot same as the video cameraman on your photo..over the fence or cage.
Maybe you can bring a ladder or some sort of a portable step stool to help you get/shoot over the obstruction.
08-02-2012, 02:51 AM   #14
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A couple of things that haven't been suggested yet.

I haven't shot any fight action (I want to) but I did some international volleyball last month. Once I found a setting l liked I used M mode but this was indoors with consistent(ly awful) light.

I stopped down the aperture one stop since it was a little more forgiving on the focus and bumped the iso up.

Use high continuous for these fights to take bursts of photos when the action picks up.
08-07-2012, 05:30 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ClinchShots Quote
Dear Tom.

First off I apologize for not coming back to this forum quick enough to see your response. IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE !!!!!!!

Thank you so much for your time and big ups for your knowledge and assistance.

I would like to keep in touch to let you know how it works out for me feel free to PM if necessary
No worries, glad I could help.
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