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Breaking through the line

By Paully33
Well Football has started and my youngest had a scrimmage so I thought I would go take some shots and mess around with camera settings to see what is gonna work for me. Took this one as the play developed and think there is a bit of emotion in this shot.

Tags: Sports and action

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danh 8 61 36 United Kingdom
23 Aug 2011 12:17PM
Hi Paully,

I think Focus_Man has called it quite well because you've lost the focus on the running back; either because your focus point missed him, or because your auto-focus didn't keep up (because he was moving too fast or because you didn't have the continuous AF running). If you have the continuous mode engaged, you have to keep your shutter button half-depressed as you track the player's movements. If you just press the button down in one go when you think your shot is composed, your camera will do its best but your focus will probably be off.

Shutter-speed-wise, if you'd boosted your ISO to 1600, you would have achieved 1/500th which would have given you a better chance of freezing the action.

That said, your horizon is pretty level and you appear to have shot this from a much lower angle than your previous work so 'top marks' for changing your technique and achieving a much better image than you were showing us before. Any improvement is a good thing and, while your focus is a little out and you've been unlucky not to get a clear shot of the runner's or tackler's faces, this is much better. Smile

Keep sharing!
23 Aug 2011 1:57PM
Thanks guys I appreciate it. Sorry for being such a rookie but I honestly take what everyone has to say to heart and utilize it. Thanks Dan I did remember what you said and was shooting from my knees. Made it a bit hard because I just had reconstructive surgery on ankle a couple of weeks ago so I am in a cast but I can see the difference in the pics for sure! SO I should set my canon from AI Servo to AI Focus if I am understanding you guys correctly?
danh 8 61 36 United Kingdom
23 Aug 2011 2:43PM
AI servo is where you want to be but you might just need a bit of practice keeping your focus point on your subject. Also, depending on how your camera works, use a single focus point (the little red squares that light up in the viewfinder) rather than all of them or a few of them. Then keep just that single square on your subject. If you use lots of the squares, the camera will think you don't mind which one of the points keeps the focus and, like your photo above, might not use the one in the middle and instead puts one of your background players (under a square that isn't over your main player) in focus (does that make sense?).
CathR 11 151 564 United Kingdom
23 Aug 2011 3:42PM
I suggest what you need to try is a combination of ai servo and continuous shooting. The ai servo will enable you to focus on the player as he moves.What you need with this ai servo is to be able to take more than one shot. Sorry I am away from home at the moment so I can';t consult my manual to tell you exactly what it is called but your camera has a function to take one shot, a burst of shots, a two second delay and a longer delay for self portraits. These functions are grouped together. You want the continuous shooting option, so when you depress the shutter right down and hold it there the camera will take more than one shot. That way you can capture the action better. Of course your memory card will get full much quicker, you will have many duds, but as long as you are able to delete "no keepers" along the way, it should not be too much of a problem.

Best wishes

23 Aug 2011 3:51PM
Thanks Ma'am! I do have my camera set to burst, and I know what you mean by having a lot of duds! But its worth it, I am learning

I will be posting another picture tonight when I get home. I was messing with the shutter and got a cool blurred effect. I don't know why but I really like it. SO we will see how I did once I post it. I love this site

paulbroad 10 123 1244 United Kingdom
23 Aug 2011 5:42PM
A good try, really - frame filled well and lots of action. There are two problems for me. The sharpest figure is the man, extreme left and it should be the runner, amply covered above. You are a bit under exposed, almost certainly due to using spot metering on an automatic setting. not a good idea.

You must know exactly what tone the spot is on, and on auto that spot should equate to 18% grey - which it rarely does. Spot is best used on manual to determine an exact exposure for manual use from a 2% area of image.

You need to be a fairly accomplished photographer to us spot correctly.

ams99 Junior Member 6 65 9 England
23 Aug 2011 6:31PM
I love the challenge of this type of photography and every weekend for the last 6 months i have been taking photos of my lad in his Junior team or my local non league football team in the Northern Premier. Real football that is - with a round ball Tongue

Over the course of the last 6 months i have found the following generally suits me best.

1) In order to freeze the action i set my camera on shutter speed priority and look for 1/1000s. If i go much lower than 1/800 i generally get a lot of motion blur

2) As the guys above have noted i switch the autofocus to continuous focus point. As yet i have found little difference between the servo settings on AF-A or AF-C. Therefore i will usually leave it on AF-A - automatic

3) For the ISO i will switch this to automatic as it is one thing less to worry about when trying to get a shot.

4) I generally find the best images are when i am able to catch two players doing battle for the ball - preferably running towards me

5) Usually i leave the metering on area. However, recently i have been getting better exposure results using centre weighted - particularly when the sky is bright

6) The images which are less pleasing are when i do a "general" shot and capture too many players without any main subject

7) I find shooting in low light extremely difficult but the guys on here are helping me heaps now i have Elements 9 to improve some images

I am finding with more practice i am getting better and now i know what to look for i am getting more keepers from less shots. Initially i was coming back with 400 shots but now i'm down to the 100 mark.

Keep up the good work. It's frustrating but really rewarding when you get that great image you long for.

PS I would love a 300mm lens.........
23 Aug 2011 10:43PM
From Paul's comment I guess that is where I lack in knowledge and try to sponge all the info I can from you all after posting photos.

I set my camera to A/V and I shoot continous, with AI Servo selected. I guess I am having a hard time with exposure and that may because of my ISO settings. I use only one focal point for my AF Point selection (the middle) I try not to go over f/10. But this seems to be a common mistake I am making is my exposure. So I am wondering if I am understanding the theory backwards. If I shoot A/V then go with a high F number I should also adjust ISO to a higher number as well. I usually jump between A/V and T/V for sports shots.

I shoot mostly from my monopod and then take it off for certain other shots. I pick my subject and follow it. It could be I am leading my subject as I am used to shooting my rifle more than camera at the moment. Where I should keep my focal point on my subject and keeping my shutter button depressed half way.

Should I be adjusting my exposure compensation at all?

Or I am totally worng?
banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3880 Canada
23 Aug 2011 10:57PM
First off, spot metering this type of image can mislead your exposure, - use multi segment, centre weighted, or whatever Canon call it.

Then for a fast moving sporting event, use TV, not Av, as you want to ensure youre shutter is fast. I would suggest no lower than 1/1000 if you want to stop action.

next, - point the camera at the action; you will see the Aperture symbol flash, which indicates the camera is not receiving enough light for the shot; then, start increasing IOS in steps, until the Aperture symbol stops flashing, and you camera is happy. Its very likely that the camera will be using max aperture, and if you want to force it to use smaller, then increase your ISO again until it does so. Wgat you are doing, is using the camera to tell you when the exposure is right, - no guesswork, - let the camera do its thing.

So what you will have is a camera set up for fast action, with the right shutter speed, and an adequate aperture, and suitable ISO (good light = lower ISO, pooer light = higher ISO, over which you have NO control, - the weather that is}

Now AI Servo, and using the centre focus spot. First make sure you have selected the centre focus spot ONLY.

Then with AI servo selected, and SINGLE SHOT just until you get used to this, half press the shutter and focus on a player; while keeping the shutter half pressed, - follow this player with the camera, and only press the shutter when you decide you have a good shot. Delve into continuous shooting after you get this technique sorted.

One last note, - ONLY AI Servo works reliably, other AI modes are completely hit and miss. And it drains your battery like theres no tomorrow.

Hope this helps


danh 8 61 36 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2011 12:19PM
While the points above are useful, I disagree with using shutter priority. It's a commonly-held misconception that because sport is all about fast shutter speeds, you should shoot in shutter priority. I'm afraid it isn't that simple. For sports you want as wide an aperture as possible so as to give you an incredibly shallow depth of field and really make your subject 'leap off the page' at you. If you're in shutter priority and the sun pops out, your aperture will shrink and give you too much depth of field, thereby giving you a razor sharp image that blends into a razor sharp background and completely ruins your shot.

If you don't feel confident enough to go with manual exposure, go with what you've suggested before - aperture priority, wide-open, and then change your ISO to make sure your shutter speed stays nice and fast - the 1/1000th quoted is a great minimum speed.

Your problem probably stems from the fact that your lens isn't a 'fixed aperture' and so your shutter speed will vary as you zoom in and out (because the light coming in will change as the aperture changes). The only way to get around this (and it is very, very good practice for the future) is to keep your lens at its longest point (300mm for you, I think), which will give you an aperture of f5.6. Then, because your aperture won't change, you can stick with the settings that give you an aperture priority of f5.6 and an ISO (whatever it needs to be) to keep your shutter speed fast.

The 'good practice' bit is because if you ever upgrade to a prime telephoto, you don't have the 'luxury' of zooming in and out. Shooting with a fixed length really tests your nerve and ability as your subject gets closer to you and fills the frame. Shooting with a zoom usually causes people to shoot too wide because they're scared of cutting a part of their subject out of the photo. The discipline required to shoot at a fixed focal length is a good way to make your nerves 'twitch', but well worth it when you see 'the whites of their eyes' in your frame-filled, explosive, 'standing out from the background' result. Try it. Smile

The limitations of your camera's ISO range and shutter speed will also cause you problems if the light isn't constant, purely because you might suddenly get conditions that badly affect your exposure. The only way to defeat that is a more-expensive camera, sorry. Keep shooting and keep sharing. Smile

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