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03-09-11, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: North Herts
I'm going against the advice given above and I would go manual exposure rather than shutter.
The reason I do this with my team sports photography (I have a licence to do nPower league soccer & professional league rugby) is because with one of the semi automatic settings you risk variations in your exposures.
I started off using shutter priority and keeping the shutter speeds high but found that the lighting levels across the stadiums can vary enormously with light & dark seating or different parts of the ground in light and shade, when you factor in the colour of the teams shirts you can find the same shot being highly over or underexposed when you allow the camera to make one of the decisions for you.
Picture a team playing in white and the other playing in black, the camera will make different exposures depending on which player is largest in the frame, meaning the other one can be massive under/over exposed.
Milton Keynes Dons provides a typical example, it has large expanses of black and white seats, it is usually mainly empty so the background to the shot plays a large part in the camera's exposure giving you incorrectly exposed shots of the players based on how much black or white is in the background.
Spot metering doesn't help too much because if you spot meter on a black shirt the auto function will try turning it grey overexposing anything lighter than black and on a white shirt it will underexpose anything darker than white.
I tend to sacrifice ISO rather than shutter speed which means in poor light I might be shooting at 6400 ISO rather than dropping the shutter speed below 1/800 1/500, but I have cameras with good high ISO reproduction, you'll know how far you can push your camera before picture quality drastically reduces.
I factor in aperture into my manual settings and most of my shots are around F4, generally sports photography looks better with sharp players and blurred backgrounds, hence I don't stick slavishly to one particular shutter speed as long as it is up in the thousands I'm not too fussed as long as I stick to f3.5 f4-ish
I tend to get to the ground, take a few shots of the players warming up to ascertain my general exposure, stick to a high shutter speed (usually well above 1/500 and up to 1/2500) and see what works as a general guideline. If you're shooting for publication they're not usually interested in arty slow shutter speed/movement shots but want action stopping moments, if you're doing it for yourself by all means experiment with slow shutter speeds and players running, panning as you do so)
I then watch the settings throughout the game as the lighting changes trying to remember to alter it depending whether the sun comes out or goes in. I might also alter it if I am doing a close up on one of the teams and their shirt colours are quite different in terms of tonal range to the other.
I have two cameras so I can do close us and wider shots without having to change lenses.
If there is any kind of crowd watching you will have to kneel or sit, I'd advise either taking a box or low stool or something to sit on or taking knee pads (I do both)
If you're in an open rugby club/field you can vary your movement, if you're in a stadium you'll probably be expected to sit in the same place until maybe half time when you can change, but this depends on the ground
If you have to stick to one place I'd go with nearer to one of the ends rather than in the middle and it;s also worth sitting behind one of the goal lines for full frontal activity, this means you sacrifice action at the far end but often end up with more exiting shots, provided you choose the right end!
Play around with your settings and you'll fall into a pattern that works for you. It took me a while to realise that for me manual was best, so don't expect to crack it on your first game.
And post some pics after the game!
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Last edited by Cathus; 03-09-11 at
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