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08-02-2010, 09:21 AM   #1
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Low light sports photos

Hi, new here, or sorta new been away for awhile with illness. Anyway my son coaches our high school football and wants me to take pictures this year during the games which are mostly at night. We are small league schools so we don't have very well lit fields. I have a K110D with a 18-55 1:1.5, 50mm 1:1.17 and a 70-300mm 1:4-5:6 lenses. My problem is I get really good shots durning daylight but once the sun goes down then I run into problems. The camera doesn't seem fast enough for action shots with the low light for the images not to blur. I've set the ISO up and that helps some but still not the shots I like to get. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

08-02-2010, 09:30 AM   #2
Ira
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Very tough, even with your long zoom.

Your best bet might be to invest in a powerful flash, stand by the sidelines, and only work those plays that come near you. A K-x might work better for you with its great high ISO, but still:

You're talking poor lighting, relatively long subject distances, and guys running very fast. That's a difficult situation, and the pro photogs need their long and super fast and EXPENSIVE lenses to do it.
08-02-2010, 10:55 AM   #3
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that's going to be a little tough with that equipment.

I used a sigma 50-150 f2.8 for indoor basketball and after dusk softball outdoors.
kx could crank up to iso 3200 when needed and an f2.8 lens is almost a must
08-02-2010, 12:30 PM   #4
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Got anything in the budget for an upgrade? Seems like you'll need it - lens, body, or both.

08-02-2010, 01:25 PM   #5
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Low light shots

Thanks for the replies. I was afraid of this. I don't have the budget right now for an upgrade or even a bigger,faster lens. I could use the flash approach but really don't like to because of the distraction of the flash. I know other shooters use them but it is really is distracting to the players. I would hate to cause a dropped pass just because I was tring to get that perfect shot. I guess I'll try and see if I can rent or barrow something at least for the season.
08-02-2010, 01:44 PM   #6
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This maybe the answer you want to hear, but just now stick to the daytime matches, or even practice sessions, until your budget allows for upgrading.
08-02-2010, 02:03 PM   #7
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Yes that is a thought, most of the games start before dark and end up in the dark. Should be able to get some daylight shots before light becomes a problem.
08-02-2010, 03:07 PM   #8
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have been in your situation so took the pro way out and rented the gear i needed. in my case, got the shots and the pay so all is well.

08-02-2010, 03:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoguy2380 Quote
I would hate to cause a dropped pass just because I was tring to get that perfect shot.
You really think your flash is going to affect a receiver's ability to catch the ball? Especially with dozens of people shooting from the stands?

Heck, if the lighting is as bad as you say it is there, the flash might actually HELP the kid SEE the ball for a completion!
08-02-2010, 09:19 PM   #10
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We don't see many shooting from the stands. Our high school has 92, so not too many people taking pictures in the stands, (or anywhere else for that matter) I'll try the flash to start and see what happens.
08-02-2010, 10:56 PM   #11
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It's going to depend on the lighting at the venue, but I'm guessing it's not going to be great!

I've tried at my sons football (AFL style... bigger oval than you're probably dealing with) with K7 and 50-200 f4-5.6 kit zoomy and even at 3200ISO I end up with shutter speeds in the 1/20-1/30th region. This means unless they are standing still waiting for a restart in play, the players end up blurred (can get some arty style picts... just can't identify anyone!). A 50/1.7 might get useable shutter speeds (1/125th or so), but only good for play close in front of me. I stopped taking my camera to night games...
08-03-2010, 04:17 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
You really think your flash is going to affect a receiver's ability to catch the ball? Especially with dozens of people shooting from the stands?

Heck, if the lighting is as bad as you say it is there, the flash might actually HELP the kid SEE the ball for a completion!
Unlike the people in the stands, his flash will actually be powerful enough to do some good (or what's the point), so it might affect the players in a way the others don't. Still, it may be the only way if the fields are poorly lit.

To the OP, I've gone back and looked at some of my shots from minor league baseball last time I took photos at the local stadium. I was getting nicely lit action shots F5.6 1/350 at ISO 800 though the darkest part of the evening. I would try getting a K-x, which will let you shoot a decent shot even up to ISO 6400. That will give you 3 stops worse lighting than my local minor league stadium. First, you might try your K110 at 1600 shot raw with some good noise reduction software and see how far off you are.

Last edited by GeneV; 08-03-2010 at 04:29 AM.
08-03-2010, 05:32 AM   #13
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Without knowing the actual field lighting have you tried; turn of AF and hyperfocus with Sv set to 1/250~, at the highest possible ISO setting, shooting wide open?
08-03-2010, 06:31 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clicker Quote
Without knowing the actual field lighting have you tried; turn of AF and hyperfocus with Sv set to 1/250~, at the highest possible ISO setting, shooting wide open?
K10d was the first camera to have Sv mode!
08-03-2010, 08:35 AM   #15
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Hey, you know the coach!

Proximity to the action and knowledge of the game can make a big difference in the type of shots you can finesse. Always has -- some great action shots have been made with press cameras and flash bulbs.

You have access to practice sessions to learn the play patterns. Go with the game strategy and be where the action is expected to be - you KNEW that was going to be a screen pass to the near side and positioned accordingly didn't you? You're hangin' tight with the injured second string QB on the side lines for playbook tips? And field location's much easier at the scholastic level than with the pros.

If "scouting-type/individual player technique" is the goal, practice sessions in daylight are useful and can be staged or repeated for the desired effect. With the right point of view, you can't tell the practice session from the game.

Motion-blur will be somewhat less apparent at longer distances (crop vs. zoom, absolute IQ isn't going to be critical for this purpose) and in head-on shots. Panning a predictable play-path is useful. Shot for peak of action/suspended motion moments. Break out old school year books and actually see what was possible with the gear and at that location in earlier times. Anticipation is your best tool.

Lots of good books from the film era too: i.e., "How To Take Action Photographs", by Charlie Self, 1975, Dolphin Books. Used book stores almost always have at least one old "how to" book you can't resist anyway.

Play to the strength of your gear and understand the photo-mission - what do you and others realistically expect? Your field action shots probably ain't goin' to make the Sports Illustrated cover but your unique human interest shot might be the best shot of the year in the school yearbook.

Consider the unusual human interest shots on the side-lines and in the stands as well as the typical action pictures on the field/court. The images of the emotional results after the play or the tense scene waiting for the ref's call are the ones that will make the yearbook sports pages special - not another 'No. 21 tackles No. 35' shot.

And have fun - access to the people's gonna be your best tool regardless of the camera and lens.

H2
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