Monday, February 21, 2011

Sports | Cricket | Clean Bowled action

Having shot the cricket tournament for last couple of weeks i have learnt a lot and would like to share some of these learning in next couple of posts.  The first topic i'd take is - the one i had earlier thought (and i believe everybody else might think so) to be difficult - the 'Bowled' action. For this action of course it's extremely important for the batsman to be in the frame - and the other important components - the bails in the air and the ball too - and also all 3 wickets! And it would be perfect to have the wicketkeeper as well!
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, Aperture Priority, (+.66 ev), Evaluative Metering, One-shot AF, Spot AF, High-speed continuous
The above photograph has only some of the essential components - we've got the ball in there, the bails off in the air but only 1 wicket. The other 2 wickets which are probably tumbling down somewhere not in the frame. In fact if i had shot this one from somewhere near long-off (not long-on - can you tell why?) i would have been able to get those wickets as well - it would have been quite a dynamic shot.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Shutter Priority, (+.66 ev), Evaluative Metering, One-shot AF, Spot AF, High-speed continuous
On this one I was able to capture the other wicket (missed the top portion though), batsman as well as one of the fielders - one of the bails on the ground - the other one not seen though. Good part about this shot is that the batsman is looking at the wickets - another important point to note is the shine on the balls- the sun was behind me so the rays reflecting against the shiny ball.



If you've looked into the caption on the above shots you'd have noticed high-speed continuous. Usually all DSLRs would have a continuous shooting mode, The EOS 7D that i use has this high-speed continuous shooting mode which shoots 7 frames per second. I feel any camera giving 3 frames per second would be fine too - but this shooting mode is extremely important. To capture this kind of shot what i do is first use the AF-ON button to focus on the batsman (i do not use the shutter button to focus) and then frame the shot - looking at the batsman thru the viewfinder trying to anticipate when the ball might be approaching. The moment i see batsman raising the bat i get ready and start clicking as soon as the bat is down (assuming the ball would be very close to the batsman) - i usually click 3 shots - approx .5 sec is time enough for the ball to pass the wickets. There's no points clicking too many shots as you end up deleting most of those shots anyway.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 200, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Shutter Priority, (+1 ev), Evaluative Metering, One-shot AF, Spot AF, High-speed continuous
I'm quite happy with this shot as it has all the basic 'ingredients' of what one might call a perfect 'bowled' shot. Only thing i would have liked was to have some more space in front if the batsman - or better still, the batsman looking behind - which of course was outside my control :-).
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 160, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Manual Exposure, Evaluative Metering, One-shot AF, Spot AF, High-speed continuous
The shot above has the perfect timing - ball caught right in the middle of the stumps - and one of the bails slightly off. After trying Shutter priority and Aperture priority i settled on Manual Exposure. I wanted to keep the maximum aperture (for as much blurry background as possible) and 1/1250s was able to freeze the ball sufficiently enough. So the only thing i end up changing is the ISO to give me the above combination.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 250, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Manual Exposure, Evaluative Metering, One-shot AF, Spot AF, High-speed continuous
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 160, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Manual Exposure, Evaluative Metering, One-shot AF, Spot AF, High-speed continuous
Very similar to the earlier one - only difference being the extra player - and his expressions caught as well.
Canon EOS 7D, ISO 250, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Manual Exposure, Evaluative Metering, One-shot AF, Spot AF, High-speed continuous
The batsman looking at the falling wickets looks very dynamic - so am quite happy to get this shot. The tilt in the picture is the spoiler though - also the top portion of the bat is cut-off.

So in my view, while capturing the 'bowled' shots the following points are important

- Batsman, ball, bails and all wickets in the frame
- usual composition guidelines - do not cut-off portions of bat, wickets etc.
- nice to have - wicketkeeper and any other fielder in frame
- exposure - manual is perfect - assuming you've got enough sunlight - to be able to choose maximum aperture and faster than 1/1250s to freeze the ball
- high-speed continuous shooting mode
- Telephoto Lens (300-400mm would be fine)
- use back-button (AF-ON) for focussing so that you don't have to wait keeping the shutter button half-pressed (remember you'll have to reframe the shot) while waiting for the right time
- spot-AF to be easily able to focus on the batsman
- patience - in a 20 overs innings last week not a single batsman was out bowled (though they were all out)!
- and the most important point -anticipation - one cannot just go on a 'shooting spree' just because there's a continuous mode - you will end up spending lots of time deleting the snaps

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