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02-17-2015, 01:14 AM   #1
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Photographing an Indoor Swimming Event

I have been asked to take photos at a 3 day indoor swimming meet, each meet taking place in the evening.

I have a Pentax K-5II with the following prime lenses:
  • Pentax F 50mm 1.7
  • Pentax FA 300mm 4.5
  • Pentax D FA 100mm 2.8 WR

I also have the Pentax kit 18-135mm WR lens and the Pentax 55-300mm lens.

I prefer to use primes due to the superior IQ, so my inclination is to either use the 300mm or the 100mm prime.

Any suggestions or additional tips and advice?

02-17-2015, 03:08 AM   #2
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initially i don't have experience in this kind of photography.
i think to freeze the action fast lenses are preferable (this would speak for 100mm or 300mm depending on the space between you and the swimming pool), but primes also limit you in your FOV.
you can't change between a total view and close-ups as quickly as you need to, so if you shoot with primes you may need a second body, otherwise i would try the 55-300mm lens (to borrow a 70-200 f2.8 for 3 days will probably not be an option / i don't know how rare k-mount lenses in your area are, you certainly don't find much around my hometown)

good luck
patrick

Last edited by othar; 02-17-2015 at 03:14 AM.
02-17-2015, 04:56 AM   #3
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Many things come to mind here.

First, make sure that you have written approval to shoot the event, which I assume is in a public ally owned facility, then make sure that all parents (if applicable) or the subjects themselves sign a waiver. It is now required in the city that I live in to do this in order to "protect " privacy.

Technically speaking,

- I would scout the location in advance, and check the lighting . That way you can figure out white balance issues in advance.
- at the same time, check out what lens you could use, and what vantage points you would want to have. Consider starting blocks, and the finish.
- look at the focal lengths you would need. Remember image size = subject size x focal length / distance. If a swimmer is off the blocks and stretched out fully, (let's assume 2 meters tip of fingers to toes) then with your 300 mm lens, you will be 24 meters away to fill the frame. Closer and you will need to zoom out.
- look at the lens speed, your 300 is rather slow, and may not be fast enough. For me A 70-200/2.8 is a better option.
02-17-2015, 05:05 AM   #4
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Remember image size = subject size x focal length / distance. If a swimmer is off the blocks and stretched out fully, (let's assume 2 meters tip of fingers to toes) then with your 300 mm lens, you will be 24 meters away to fill the frame.
I find this formula fascinating (never heard of it before) and I would like to use it in future, but I don't quite understand how you got to your conclusion of 24 metres. Could you please elaborate?

02-17-2015, 05:11 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Your image size will be the 24mm frame width. If you rearrange the formula you can swap image size and distance and you get the following

Distance = subject size (2.0 meters) x focal length (0.3 meters) / image size (0.024 meters)

0.3/0.024 is close enought to 12 so 12 x 2 = 24

The formula is based upon the real optical formula, simplified for the case where you are shooting a long way away relative to the focal length of the lens.

It is a simple way to estimate magnification. That is all
02-17-2015, 05:15 AM   #6
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Thank you - it now makes sense!

Very useful to know.
02-17-2015, 05:26 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Neville Quote
Thank you - it now makes sense!

Very useful to know.
While you don't need to know the math and science behind photography, it does help some times.

By the way 300 mm will give young full frame shot all the way across the pool, and then some, assuming you are on a 50 meter long pool.
02-17-2015, 05:36 AM   #8
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The big problem with indoor swimming pools can be the humidity and fogging up of lenses.

Good luck.

02-17-2015, 08:35 AM   #9
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While I've never shot this sort of thing as a pro, I have attempted to shoot my kids at swim lessons. The biggest factor in my experience is the light. If the pool has big windows and it's a sunny day you'll do fine with the gear you have and won't need artificial light. OTOH you'll need high ISO and maybe extra lighting if you have a dim venue. Be sure and arrive early and acclimate your camera and lenses to the temp. and humidity.
02-17-2015, 10:19 AM   #10
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If you don't have to document the whole event and you're doing it for fun/personal use, you could start with one prime to get some wide shots, then switch to another, to get the close-in ones.

But given the choice, I'd probably use the 18-135 if I didn't have the 50-135 or 60-250. You're probably going to need to stop down a bit for depth of field anyway, and with the 18-135, you've got your camera sealed so it doesn't get that lovely humid pool air in it.

To prevent fogging, try https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/22-pentax-camera-field-accessories/288391...iminators.html

You're in South Africa, so it's summer, right? At least you won't be walking from freezing cold into a hot, steamy pool - that might be more than the fog eliminator wipes can fully handle.
02-17-2015, 01:16 PM   #11
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Neville, will you be given accreditation to get down on the pool-deck and be able to move around, or will you be limited to staying in the stands?

How much will it be about documenting individual performances vs larger group shots? What I'm trying to say is, "Are you concentrating on a particular team's & team-members' results?"

Dan.
02-17-2015, 01:21 PM   #12
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A few things come to mind from my experience photographing salsa parties.
Try mixing ambient light with flash to dampen light fall off in the distance. This means going manual and using the triangle ISO-Aperture-Shutter speed to get enough ambient light in to capture the atmosphere. Next you use the triangle ISO-Aperture-Flash exposure compensation to light (and freeze) your subject. (Flash duration is faster than 1/1000 sec.) ISO 1600 is a good starting point and you might go higher. My pictures are used on facebook and noise is no problem at screen resolution at ISO1600.
Consider putting gel foil on the flash head to change the light temperature of the flash to the ambient light (possibly fluorescent). I don't do this because the party lights are coloured anyway and I like it as it is.
Experiment with bounced flash, preferably during a training. Flash exposure can get unpredictable on K5II when you bounce the flash. Flash exposure is ok using the flash straight on. Try Auto mode if your flash has it.
When I shoot portraits of people I use a coiled flash cord and hold the flash in my left hand with my arm extended. This creates natural shadows in the faces which looks so much better then wham, straight on, deer in the headlight. Using the on board flash to trigger the handheld as a slave should work too. Set the on board to wireless control, not wireless master.
I shoot RAW+jpeg. I find I often have to push exposure 0,5 to 1,5 stop in lightroom and pull up the background in Lightroom, RAW gives me room to do so.
examples here; https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.755404467868592.1073741875.128212733921105&type=3

Enjoy, Karet
02-17-2015, 08:48 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
You're in South Africa, so it's summer, right? At least you won't be walking from freezing cold into a hot, steamy pool - that might be more than the fog eliminator wipes can fully handle.
Correct, in Durban it's humid enough outside the pool area as it is, and the pool isn't heated at this time of the year, so I doubt that I will have any problems.

---------- Post added 02-18-15 at 05:51 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by dosdan Quote
Neville, will you be given accreditation to get down on the pool-deck and be able to move around, or will you be limited to staying in the stands?
Yes, I will be allowed onto the deck and move around, within certain limits.

QuoteOriginally posted by dosdan Quote
How much will it be about documenting individual performances vs larger group shots? What I'm trying to say is, "Are you concentrating on a particular team's & team-members' results?"

Dan.
No, I'm not concentrating on a particular team or individuals.
02-20-2015, 09:41 PM   #14
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I took my first batch of photos last night at the heats and I was quite pleased with the results, although I only kept 200 shots out of the 950 that I took! I started off with the 100mm prime, but then switched over to the 300mm prime fairly soon.

There are three more sessions of the meet this weekend, but I've uploaded last night's photos onto a blog that I threw together for the weekend's events - https://ssagrandprix.wordpress.com.
02-20-2015, 10:27 PM   #15
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Neville, when I tried this with a K-5 in both indoors & outdoors events, I found I had to use Centre-point focus, as Auto was fooled by the rich targeting environment (ripples and splashed water). Did you find the same?

With their caps, mirror goggles and wet glistening skin, swimmers remind me of aliens. Therefore I'd suggest going a bit wild in the PP with a few photos. Here are two examples of my then 10yo son from 2012 showing both the shot as taken, and after cropping & PP.

An extreme level of Local Contrast Enhancement to give a hyper-realism effect:




Cross-processing & framing to emphasise the colours. I was inspired by the colour of the sun-glint on the water:




These 2 shots weren't that sharp, but the PP focuses the viewer's attention on other aspects. So the lack of sharpness becomes less important.

Dan.

Last edited by dosdan; 02-20-2015 at 10:41 PM.
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