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14/06/2011 - 10:30 AM

The Great Game

The Great GameA good set, with good settings used to achieve them. For me the only comment I can add is to change your perspective sometimes. While you've caught the action well, there aren't many shots where the batsman's face is clearly visible. If you shoot from behind the wicket (slightly to the side, naturally) you can catch both the batsman and the bowler head-on (when overs cause a change of ends, of course).

Also, while I can see you've used the full range of your 400mm, it might be worth investing in a converter, or seeing whether the wicket is off-set to one side of the field or other, and trying to shoot from the shortest boundary, to allow the players to be that little bit nearer to you. If some of these shots filled the frame they'd be even more eye-catching. I appreciate there are differences of opinion about whether you need to show fielders and stumps to create context but if it's clearly a game of cricket, clearly a batsman, and a ball is clearly in the frame, what more context is required?

If you manage to get closer to the action, try shooting in portrait orientation so that the human form you're capturing better fits the frame of the image and you don't keep cutting players' feet off. Also, beware of aperture priority if you get closer-in to the action because the white clothing can cause the rest of your image to be underexposed and you'll lose some facial detail.

Thanks for sharing. Smile
26/05/2011 - 12:29 PM


Charge!The cutoff on the highest (stick? Not sure what it's called, sorry) is a tiny distraction but the absence of the ball is the biggest loss for this shot. The rest of the shot is good but I'd have been tempted to go to ISO 400 and get my shutter speed a bit faster. I might also have shot in portrait orientation to get rid of the empty spaces on either side.
18/05/2011 - 11:44 AM

the game

the  gameI'm afraid your shutter speed is too slow to freeze the movement (raise your ISO to get the figure up to at least 1/640th, preferably faster), your players are poorly-framed (cut-off at mid-calf level - perhaps you could try shooting in 'portrait' orientation) and you haven't managed to capture the ball within the frame (which is pretty much key in football, unless it's a 'celebration' photo).

Not a 'keeper' for me, sorry.
12/05/2011 - 1:02 PM

a evening cricket match

a evening cricket matchI'm a bit surprised that the players are so far away from you when you appear to have shot at 500mm. Were you still in your house? If so, any possibility of a good action shot has been lost entirely.

The images you've produced neither capture peak moments of action nor do they tell a story and as a result can only be considered 'snapshots', sorry. Also, your shutter speed was only 1/200th which is way too long for a sports image that should freeze the action.

In future get alongside the boundary ropes, in a low position (seated is easiest at cricket), and use the full length of your zoom. Shoot in aperture priority (wide-open) and use your ISO to make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/800th, preferably a bit higher. Aim to get a clear, crisp image of the batsman, with the full length of his bat in frame, while having the ball in frame at the same time.

If you're shooting the bowler, shoot either from side-on to show him/her in profile (again with the ball in the picture), or shoot from behind the batter (slightly to the side of course) to give a head-on shot of the bowler. If you time it right you can get a shot of the ball halfway down the wicket towards you, while the bowler's face and body-position are still clearly visible. This is also a good place to get the bowler's reaction if the batter is bowled out or trapped LBW. If the batsman tries a hook shot you can also get some great images of face/bat/ball from this position, and also of the batter in action when they change ends.
02/05/2011 - 11:58 AM


AlmostYour horizon is way off-level and your shutter speed is too slow to freeze the action. In future shoot in aperture priority, wide-open, and use your ISO to keep your shutter speed up to at least 1/640th, preferably higher. Even with this much movement blur it's clear that your aperture is too small to blur your depth-of-field to a sufficient level where your subject is truly isolated from the background. Additionally, your hands have moved enough to blur the photo too. If you look at the people in the background there's a lot of movement blur there as well.

I always find it's best to support my lens with my left hand, palm facing upwards and almost tilted slightly downwards away from me, and the barrel of the lens resting on the heel of my hand. This provides additional lens support as well as allowing your fingers to remain free to adjust zoom and/or focus, as required. If you use your hand so that your thumb is lowest and your fingers are at the top (in the shape of a letter 'c' as you look at it) your hand provides little support to the lens and can allow for the camera shake that this photo has within it.

That said you've caught a good moment for an action shot and with a few tweaks to your technique and settings, you'll be getting some really good shots. Smile
22/10/2010 - 12:26 PM

head stand

head standBoth the background and the cut-off of the feet are a distraction and, to me at least, take this out of the 'keeper' file.
16/08/2010 - 7:17 PM

A sunny Sunday afternoon

A sunny Sunday afternoonCloning out distractions = no. It's sports photography so you're supposed to capture the moment - not create it afterwards.

Sports photography is nearly always about shooting wide open and keeping your shutter speed good and high (minimum 1/640th, preferably a fair bit higher) by manipulating your ISO.

Pre-focusing on the wicket will do you no favours at f2.8. Just practice and you'll get better. These are great for a first effort.

The modified blur looks horrible, to me - sorry.

That is all.
02/02/2010 - 1:03 PM

Saturdays Ice Hockey session

Saturdays Ice Hockey sessionJust with regard to the content of the photos (rather than exposure issues) I'd prefer to see a bit more in the way of 'head on' shots with faces, and with the puck on display. I also think a much closer crop on the action would give your images more impact (but probably make your focus come a bit more under scrutiny).

Exposure-wise I think you'd have been better off using manual exposure and using trial and error to get the results you wanted, if you were unable to take a light-meter reading over the ice. Shooting a team in black against a team in white will never help your metering (in relation to shutter speeds), especially with all that white ice, and white boards around the edge.

If you're able to (in advance of the game/practice starting), hold a grey card out over the playing surface and either use the result to set a custom white balance, or use it to measure your post-processing white balance levels. If you know one of the players, ask him/her to take it out to the centre of the rink while you shoot it.

With AF for sports photography I always use a single AF point, especially when you have fast-moving, erratic-direction subjects. Using more than one can cause the camera to leave the person alone that you want to catch!

With apologies if there's some way of seeing this myself, what were your final exposure results (SS, aperture and ISO) and what programme were you shooting in? In an indoor environment with poor lighting (and just guessing from a look at your images) I'd have expected at least 3200 to be required to get 1/400th shutter speed (too slow to properly freeze action) at f2.8. You then have to decide whether you want noise-free or blur-free images if you have further ISO options. I always decide to go for blur-free and jack my ISO all the way up. Better to have caught the image with noise, than to have your image ruined by movement blur. I can see one of your images was shot at ISO6400 but I'm not sure about the others.

Maybe treat this as your learning curve and shoot a proper game when the lights are fully-on! Pro-hockey games tend to have strobe set-up, about which I know nothing (basketball arenas too), for some photographers so they'll always have a head-start on what you can achieve without such assistance, so don't be downhearted!
01/02/2010 - 1:04 PM


EnduroIt is a nice shot, but I'm very picky (overly-so on most days, sorry) so I'll just say it's a shame the 'static' parts of the shot don't include his head (his goggles are pretty movement-blurred), and it'd be an even better shot if he'd been coming at you, rather than moving away. A shot of the rider's face makes all the difference. Good work though.
17/01/2010 - 11:07 AM

Something New

Something NewYou've got the players nicely in the centre of the frame, but it would benefit from a vertical crop to really isolate the action. I've tried to locate your exif info but can't find it. I'm guessing your shutter speed is only about 1/400th, maximum, probably nearer to 1/250th. This is too slow to properly freeze the action and you have a lot of movement blur when you zoom in to the detail of the photo. If you look closely the blades of grass are blurred-in together so even the movement of your hands have been betrayed by the slower shutter speed.

If you're shooting sport (apologies if you know this) you should shoot in aperture priority (wide-open) and manipulate your ISO to keep your shutter speed as high as you can - I aim for a minimum of 1/1000th but if the light is really bad you can get away with 1/640th.

Your photo would also have benefited from a lower shooting angle, this one looks like you were standing up when you took it. I don't know if you were at your maximum zoom here but if you were you'd have got a better shallowness to your depth of field, albeit with a smaller aperture if your lens won't keep your aperture constant (I know nothing about Nikon, sorry). It's easy to err on the side of caution with a zoom and ultimately you end up over-compensating and shoot too wide. Have a go at 200mm without changing your zoom at all; it can make you twitch a bit but it's worth it!

You could try shooting primarily in portrait mode too as the human body fits that orientation quite well in many sports, if you're looking for full-body 'isolated' shots.

I hope this doesn't make you feel disheartened but you said you didn't have much experience with sport so I thought I've give you more detail than normal. You obviously have an eye for capturing peak moments of action and if I'd captured anything this good when I was first trying sports photography I'd have been very pleased. Can you show us some more the next time you hit the sidelines? Thanks.

14/01/2010 - 3:39 PM


GolfIt's a nice shot to illustrate the skill and concentration required, plus it has a really nice shallow depth of field.

Is there a reason you put it onto such a slanted angle? I think having the photo on the level might have worked better, for me.
12/01/2010 - 1:02 PM


KeepingI'd ask the question "What is the story that this photo is telling us?". It's a nice shot compositionally, but it doesn't 'do' a great deal for me when it comes to telling me a story. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

For me, sports shots need to feature a ball or a face in the middle of the action or, if they have neither, tell a story without the need for much of a caption. This one is a bit confused to me as the keeper is clearly readying himself to save a shot, but there's a ball on the field a long way in the background, suggesting that this was during warm-ups or similar.

I think studies like this work if the keeper is clearly isolated from the rest of the game and inactive for along periods of time, but I'm not sure the rear-view of a goalkeeper in 'stand-by' mode (without any action in the background) is particularly eye-catching.

That said this will probably win competitions and prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about and can't spot a good photo even when it's put right in front of me... sorry.
12/01/2010 - 12:16 PM

Jumping the last

Jumping the lastDefinitely no. 4 for me, looks great.

If you're struggling with intrusive backgrounds you should consider opening up to f2.8 for all your shots. Not only will it give you less background intrusion but it'll give you a much faster shutter speed and less noisy images (as I think you've already said yourself). I appreciate it brings your focus into much closer scrutiny but if you've got a fast lens and want to blur your backgrounds it seems a logical way forward.

With regard to the focusing problems, you should stick with AF if you can, but use it creatively. Use your AF to pre-focus on the fence and then take your finger off the shutter button (I'm not sure if the 4D has a back-button for AF operation). As soon as the horse hits your viewfinder, half depress your shutter button momentarily and then fire. Your AF should capture the focus fairly quickly and give you something worth looking at.

Perhaps you could either re-crop, or consider shooting in portrait orientation when you're head-on - it'll suit the shape of the horse and rider a lot more. If you rotate to portrait orientation you can use the focus point at (what becomes) the top of your viewfinder, which might just make a difference in how quickly your AF locks onto the horse and rider, and how much frame-filling action you can get.

if you crop image no. 4 really tightly I think it'll have a LOT more impact (assuming your focus is sharp enough to allow it)

You should also try zooming in a lot closer sometimes. I appreciate the full image is great, but if you manage to capture some real close ups of the horses and riders with spittle flying everywhere it'll look great, and further blur your backgrounds. Shooting at 100mm is ok but challenge yourself to go in really tight and see how it looks.

I look forward to seeing a few more, and wouldn't mind a go at some of this action myself. I'll have to see what's around. Smile