Chris Worfolk's Blog

Lessons from East Kilbride Pirates at Yorkshire Rams

This was my second day out photographing one of our local american football teams, the Yorkshire Rams. Here is what I learned…

Set the white balance manually. During the Lancashire Wolverines game I left it on auto, whereas in this game I manually set it to cloudy and left it there. The photos came out a bit cold in the first game and a little inconstant too. This time they have a more consistent, warm feel.

An exposure of 1/500 is not fast enough to freeze the action. It is OK for players running around but when the ball is being thrown, you need at least 1/1000. When I photograph birds in flight I use 1/1250, and the ball is probably moving faster than that, so makes sense.

I tried taking off my 2x extender and just using my 70-200mm lens (whereas with the extender on I would get a focal range of 140-400mm), as this allowed me to open the aperture up to 2.8. I didn’t see much benefit though, I was already shooting at around ISO 100, so I simply didn’t need to open it up to that unless I specifically wanted to do so, and while that allows me to easily blur at the background, it makes it difficult to keep everything in focus. So 140-400mm f5.6 it is then; it is broad daylight after all.

I also tried increasing the ISO to 3200 in an attempt to get a much greater depth of field. This allowed me to work at up to f11 even at 400mm, again I didn’t see a great deal of difference, but I might give it another go next time and see if I can shoot some catches and plays where I don’t have time to re-focus the camera.

I used AI servo and back button focusing for this shoot. That means I turned off auto focus activation when you press the shutter half way down (I posted a video on how to do this a few weeks ago), and used a button on the back to activate it instead. Because it is in AI servo mode (continuous auto focus), I could then press this button on the back to focus, hold it if I wanted it to work continuously and then release when I wanted to take a shot, or even leave it going the whole time. Mostly I focused and then left it alone, unless the action started coming towards or away from me.

There is also an element of luck to it. I was shooting in continuous mode, but cameras can only take so many shots per second, and given a kick of a throw takes less than one, being able to capture the exact moment comes down to chance. Of course, the more expensive your camera is, the more it can take – my 6D clocks in at 4.5 I think, whereas if you have a 5D Mark III it can take up to 6.

You can find some of the photos in a previous blog post.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 at 10:47 am and is filed under Tips & Advice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.