Monday, January 24, 2011

Sports Photography - freezing interesting moments in a cricket game

Sports Photography was another area of interest (apart from Bird Photography) i bought the 400mm f/5.6 for. Inter-corporate cricket tournament being held in our office campus for last couple of weeks has given me great opportunity to try out and learn this area of photography. Most of the action happens near the pitch so a long telephoto is a must to catch facial expressions. In fact to get real close you might find even this is not enough - but works for majority of shots.
Some important points for action sports photography:

 - Shooting Mode: Shutter Priority works well to freeze the action - catch the ball within the frame is very important in my view. At the same time ensure that the lens is wide open - to keep shallower depth of field. This is because the background may not be most ideal - higher aperture value would ensure better separation of the subject.

- Drive mode: Anticipation is quite important so knowing when to press the shutter button is extremely important. This i believe would come by experience. Continuous mode would assist on this to some extent.

- RAW/Jpeg: For outdoor sports the light does not change so much so white balance can be set once for all the shots. This is the reason most of the action photography shooters use jpeg - another important reason is they tend to click much more that other kinds of photography because the fast action means less percentage of keepers so issue with memory cards. Still i am now so used to clicking in RAW that i don't feel confident enough with jpeg. Need to upgrade to 16GB soon - find 4GB too less if i'm out for a couple of hours.

- Composition: The usual composition guidelines apply here as well - rule of thirds etc. One important thing is make sure the background is clutter-free. f/2.8 lenses are quite costly. 400mm f/5.6 is the cheapest in canon range so if there are buildings, trees etc. in the background not very far from the subject it won't be enough to blur. One should move around to select the right spot. Keeping the sun behind would help in sufficient light falling on the face and removing issues with dark areas around the eye - specially when the players are wearing caps/helmets.

-Focus: One-spot auto-focus works in most of the situations. One very useful thing i have found out is to use the AF-ON button for focusing and the shutter button only for metering and taking picture. It;s much easier to lock focus and then go for multiple clicks in continuous drive mode.

-Accessory: The long and heavy lenses would make it difficult to hand-hold for a long time so a monopod might help. Tripod may not be so useful as it will restrict movement.

I had exactly this snap in mind when i went to office yesterday. I had two 20-over innings to capture this - so had to keep an eye on every ball. 1/1250 s was able to freeze the ball and to get min depth of field i set-up ISO-200 which gave me f/5.6 the max aperture. If i remember correctly the scoreboard showed 18 overs with 4 wickets in hand so the batsmen were bound to go after the bowlers - meaning more chance of wickets. Using high-speed continuous shooting mode helped.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous
The following action was from the first ball of the innings - catch almost dropped - would have loved to be on the other side of the filed to capture the face.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, Single Shooting

 
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous


A bit slower shutter speed on the picture below helped show a bit of movement of the bat and the ball. Please note that i had to reduce the ISO on this one as a slower shutter speed would mean more light and i did not want to close down the aperture to compensate.

Canon EOS 7D, ISO 100, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, Single Shooting
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous
Just concentrating on the batsman may be too boring so being able to quickly anticipate the next spot of action and being able to point the lens in the right direction is another trick to learn which again will come by experience. In the following snap i was a tad bit late. if i had kept a bit slower shutter speed (may be 1/400s) and had clicked a moment earlier the ball would have been just over the fielder's hands and a bit of blur would have created a better effect maybe.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous

Sports brings out a variety of emotions - which could be captured by freezing the facial expressions.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous


Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/7.1, 1/800 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous

Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/6.3, 1/1250 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous

The garbage bin at the background has spoilt the celebratory mood shown in here - another reminder of how important it is to keep an eye of the background.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/8.0, 1/800 sec, Shutter Priority, One-spot AF, High-speed continuous
Some reference to action sports photography can be seen in the reference page. I highly recommend the Canon 400mm f/5.6 L. Even though it doesn't have an IS (not required at such fast shutter speeds) is is so sharp. The built-in hood helps reduce the dust particles getting onto the glass. 

No comments:

Post a Comment