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Old 12-03-2012, 01:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
Dr. PhunkyPants
Yield and Overcome...
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Join Date: Apr 2008

A few thoughts in no particular order:

1. ISO: Shoot at the highest ISO value you can tolerate for the intended output of the job. This depends on your body and also on what you intend to do with the images. Are you printing enlargements or just working up images for the web? I am consistently amazed a how good the modern generation of cameras can look at high ISOs in smaller image sizes.

2. Shooting Mode: As noted elsewhere, shoot bursts. Be aware that if you're shooting RAW, you'll crowd the buffer more quickly. If you can get WB and exposure reasonably close, you might prefer to have a 60-70 shot buffer on JPEG normal versus 6-7 shots shooting RAW. Plus you have to wait for the buffer to clear if you peg it. There is no free lunch!

3. Focal Length Choice: Remember that you want a 1/focal length minimum shutter speed just to combat handholding blur. To freeze motion you need to get in the range of 1/250 or 1/500. If you are limited in your lens selection, bear in mind you may have better results up against the glass with a 50mm lens than you would back up in the stands with a 200mm lens. If your body allows it, you can crop for a tighter shot...that may or may not be an option based on your sensor. Lastly, make yourself change lenses once or twice...during a pause in the action, or during half time...take some waist-up shots of players, candid moments, shoot the sticks on the wall, etc. Make sure you don't come back with 1500 identically composed images because you never swapped lenses for a different focal length.

4. Stability: A lot of venues do not allow tripods. Monopods are usually permitted. I shoot soccer games with a monopod and I swear it helps a ton. I run the monopod down my right leg (trailing) and sort of jam the base into the arch of my foot. Body weight on the monopod and arms tight make for better stability for me than the monopod out front on its own. Vibration Reduction/Image Stabilization and a monopod are really great helpers...too.

5. Exposure Strategy: Shoot Manual OR Shutter Priority with Auto ISO enabled. I respect the comment above saying to set a particular exposure manually. I do that if shooting indoors at a dinner party where I'm working at a consistent distance and am worried about point light sources fooling the meter--like, candles. But I think there's a chance you may have uneven lighting conditions and anyway may want to mix up your shots enough that shooting shutter priority to guarantee you are freezing the action and the let your depty of field vary could be a good approach as well.

6. Autofocus Strategy: Your camera should have a variety of autofocus modes--single versus continuous. I would suggest continuous with focus confirmation needed to release. This will allow the camera to vary/track a moving subject but prevent release unless focus is locked. May not be locked on the right thing, depending, but better than getting a stack of unfocused images. This is extra important if you're shooting RAW--because of the limits on the buffer vice JPEG.

7. White Balance: I am a fan of shooting with a WB as close as you can get. That way, if I switch to JPG from RAW, I'm in good shape. Can you get in to the venue ahead of the game? If so, you might try setting WB manually.

8. Random: Bring lots of cards in a little wallet. Keep them facing forward until they are full, then put them in the wallet in order, facing backward when full. Keep this on you. Have a spare battery, charge both the night before. Do not wear a backpack. Keep track of your stuff...leave with a friend, if possible. Lenses can wander off, if you know what I mean. Move when shooting so you don't block one particular person's view (and keep the images interesting).

9. Flash: Skip it unless for portraits after the game. It's annoying and the bounce off the glass may screw up your images in ways you don't notice on the LCD.

Sorry to ramble, but I guess I'd summarize it like this:

1. Highest ISO the job allows
2. Continuous high shooting mode
3. JPEG, normal quality (for buffer size)
4. Careful manual white balance setting
5. Shutter priority
6. If using slow glass, get close and shoot wider--possibly to crop later
7. Use a monopod
8. No flash
9. Change lenses and position regularly
10. Don't expect to watch the game (sorry!)
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