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01-18-2009, 11:39 PM   #1
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What settings for this assignment?

I'm completely new to DSLR and have just bought a K200D. I only have the kit lens (Sigma 18-50) and secondhand Pentax FA 70-200.

i have been asked to take photos of a friend who is competing in the New Zealand Coast To Coast Multisport triathlon in a few weeks. This is a 2 day, 250Km event that crosses New Zealand's South Island - West To East across very rugged mountains, rivers, valleys. The competitors run, cycle and kayak.

My friend will probably only ever do this event once and she wants a good photographic record of her efforts.

I wonder if anyone here could suggest some settings for the K200D that will increase my chances of getting some good shots for her. I know I'm not going to have time to learn much about the camera beforehand.

The shots will be of people running, cycling and kayaking in a mountainous scene with lots of green bush and forest. There is a high chance of early morning mist and maybe rain.

Because I'm new to this, and because of the nature of the event, I don't think I'm going to have much time to fiddle with changing settings a lot.

As well as settings for a newbie, what would you experienced guys use for this assignment?

01-19-2009, 06:23 AM   #2
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I'd use shutter preferred automatic or manual, you should use programmed automatic. biased to shutter speed if your camera will allow it.
01-19-2009, 06:34 AM   #3
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Man this is a tough request. I agree with Wheatfield but you need practice. it's that simple. If you have a horse racing track near home. Go shooting for a couple of hours and see how you do. If not car traffic on a street will help.

You need to practice shooting in manual focus IMO. Finding a spot that you prefocus the shot on and wait for the runner to enter that spot. Highest shutter speed you can with decent DOF. In bright sunny conditions, you can shoot at high ISO's and still have very good image quality. That will allow you much more room to get the settings you need.

But I can't repeat enough that you need to practice. It's about as tough a subject to shoot and to be blunt, you don't have the best lenses for the task. If your friend is expecting Sports Illustrated and you don't prepare ahead of time, you'd be better off declining the request. People have a funny notion on how easy or tough photography can be. They all think the camera just does the work and a monkey can get great shots.
01-19-2009, 07:48 PM   #4
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Shooting traffic was the first thing I thought. You need practice.

One thing you didn't mention is wether you have any SLR experience at all. If you do then just go full manual. Small aperture, F11ish(or smaller) this will give better DOF and some room for focus error, ISO at 800(I wouldn't go higher, unless it gets pretty dark) and see what metering gives for shutter speed. 1/500 or faster is ideal. If it's really bright you could stop down the aperture a little. edit: and/or knock down the ISO.

If you have little experience then I would probably just go with the Running Guy Mode on the dial. And try to pay attention to what it's doing to the settings.

Either way it'll be a lot easier if the light is good and you have yourself positioned so the subject is well lit. But, it will get harder as there is less light and the automatic mode will get less effective the darker it gets.

Just practice as much as you can, read the manual a few times and spend more time thinking about position in regards to lighting and also in regards to giving yourself time to compose and shoot.

Good luck


Last edited by jak442; 01-19-2009 at 08:32 PM.
01-19-2009, 08:08 PM   #5
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Agreed and another thought. If you can position yourself so the runners are not coming straight at you, your results should be better. Try to have them going across left right or right left parallel to you. A subject coming at you is much tougher to focus on because the subject is constantly changing the distance between you and the camera. A parallel shot where you can pan a shot crossing the frame will be easier. The distance from subject to camera doesn't change much and you can get sharper shots.
01-19-2009, 11:16 PM   #6
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Like the others have suggested, you should take some practice shots to get a sense of what kind of shutter speeds you like for runners, and cyclers. It may be harder to find a place to get practice shots of kayakers. Don't feel like you need to stop the action down to the point where you can count eyelashes. A little motion blur is sometimes nice for sports action, I would think especially with cyclers. I'm talking about enough to be suggestive of motion, but not enough to blur the subject.

For the exposure settings, I would stake out a good spot a couple minutes ahead of your friend and take some practice shots of the other faster competitors. You can fine-tune your settings on them before your friend comes into the scene. Once you know what you like, set the camera to manual mode with those settings for your friend. This will lock those settings. Why do this? Because you may take a couple pictures at eye-level, a couple down on one knee, and maybe one over your head as others crowd around you. The down on one knee shot will be looking up, which will put more sky in the frame, which will be brighter and the camera, if left in any sort of automatic exposure mode, will try to expose the brighter scene correctly. This will leave a nice picture of the sky in the background, but your friend dark in the foreground. The opposite effect occurs with the over-the-head shot. In camera meters are easily confused like this, so when you find settings that work for a specific patch of track, lock it in.
02-24-2009, 04:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions for this assignment.
It been and done now - I was reasonably pleased with my results, but I can see how I could improve next time!
There are some shots I took in another thread "Coast To Coast Race photos" in 'Post Your photos' (I don't know how to link it to here) I took - no PP, just converted from Raw to jpg.
02-24-2009, 06:37 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Slowpoke Rodriguez Quote
A little motion blur is sometimes nice for sports action, I would think especially with cyclers. I'm talking about enough to be suggestive of motion, but not enough to blur the subject.
Many years ago in college I went to the Grand Prix races at Watkins Glenn; you were able in some places to get right up to the fence. Took most exposures using pan and a shutter speed of 1/1000. When got slides back had great pix with nice pan blur in background and perfectly still cars. Looked like the car was parked on the track! On a couple the white lettering on the tires were slightly blured but all in all the pix really did not covey the car speed. Just a little blur would have been great. I learned!

As for the rest of your thread about using manual after getting the basics in the first couple of auto-exp shots - I printed that off to remind me next time I do anything from a parade to a marathon race or whatever. Great advice.

-TomK- (K200D)

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