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Thread: Capturing sports/action images

  1. #1

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    Capturing sports/action images

    When the Olympics starts later this year in the UK the cycling road race venue is not far from where I am. The 1st problem is getting a ticket to access this main part of the race. The second issue is my camera which is a Canon G2. I guess that one of the prerequisites of taking sports type shots is to be able to fire off successive shots quickly? Although, it does have this option it does not have enough processing oomph to work successfully.

    Anyway, that leads me to two questions. What would be the basic requirements for taking sports/action type images? Secondly, would hiring a suitable lens/camera be an option?. I guess with that option I would have to hire pre-event to try out and get used to. Anyway, thoughts are welcome.

    Cheers for now

    Gary

  2. #2
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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    It depends on where you are standing in relationship to the cyclist. If the cyclists are peddling directly towards you, a moderately fast shutter speed should be able to capture some good shots. If the cyclist is peddling past you, then you will need to use a combined panning motion and reasonably fast shutter speed. You won't have time to photograph every cyclist if you panning, perhaps only every fifth cyclist. Also, position of the sun to the cyclists will also be important. Cyclists in shadow will require you to increase shutter speed, increase ISO, and/or widen aperture.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    I guess that one of the prerequisites of taking sports type shots is to be able to fire off successive shots quickly? Although, it does have this option it does not have enough processing oomph to work successfully.
    No.
    Not a necessity, especially for rhythmic, prescribed or easily predicted Sports Action such as Swimming:
    Capturing sports/action images

    or . . . Cycling:
    Capturing sports/action images

    Both the above were exposed “one shot”: but the movements in each, were predictable

    However, shooting a spread MIGHT be advantageous especially to get a critical moment that was NOT expected: but what is the capture rate during a spread, using the G2? - which seems lacking oomph, as you put it.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    Anyway, that leads me to two questions. What would be the basic requirements for taking sports/action type images? Secondly, would hiring a suitable lens/camera be an option?. I guess with that option I would have to hire pre-event to try out and get used to.

    In regard to your questions:

    Firstly the LENS:

    Will be basically predicted on your CAMERA VIEWPOINT, for example, my cycling image above was shot with a 24mm Prime Lens on an EOS 5D . . . BUT I don’t think you can ensure that you will get that close to the action.

    In this regard a ZOOM lens will be more flexible – again the ZOOM COMPASS will be determined by the estimated SHOOTING DISTANCE and the RANGE of FRAMING you require.

    Typically I would like a 70 to 200 on a FF Camera and I would expect to be close enough to use that lens and camera to get five riders spread across a turn at FL = 70mm or an half shot of one cyclist at FL = 200mm.
    . . . but what lens(es) YOU will need is governed by where you will be located.

    Next consideration is the lens has to be reasonable fast, (aperture) – for daytime road racing F/4 is usually sufficient if the camera can hold ISO1600, but F/2.8 is obviously better. The reason for this is to allow you to get the appropriate SHUTTER SPEED should you wish to reduce Motion Blur.

    Don’t get fooled by the: “you NEED F/2.8 for the Shallow DoF” argument - I shall not debate that now, but suffice to say, just full frame a cyclist in the viewfinder, which is coming at you at 45 . . . and work out the DoF at F/5.6 . . . it is about the thickness of the rider’s torso.

    The Camera:
    Efficient high ISO is really my main concern – the higher the ISO capacity, means the faster the shutter speed I can use and still maintain a sensible Aperture to get an appropriate DoF for ALL shooting scenarios.

    Frame rate is a personality thing, (dare I say overstated, over exaggerated and misunderstood).

    I am happy with 3 to 5 fps for cycling and I would not use that often, and I tend to only shoot a spray of three frames and only when I am unsure of what is happening . . .

    I think that this point is critical – I shoot a lot of Swimming, Gymnastics and Field Hockey . . . I have shot a lot of Rugby League and Rugby Union – and by comparison I have shot “a bit of” road cycling. I “know” all those sports.

    On the other hand, I have watched (a lot of) Boxing . . . but I am sure, by the same comparison, I would make a mess of photographing an high calibre Boxing match – because I do not “know” that sport.


    Most DSLR’s / lenses these days have efficient Auto Focus and etc. so all that other stuff is basically covered, IMO.

    ***

    Renting?

    Sure good idea – rent it a couple of weeks before and practice and then rent it two days before so you know what you have got to use and you know how to use it.


    WW

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    William, John thanks for your replies. The image below is a potential viewing point. You need to imagine that it will be filled with a couple of thousand people! Local cyclists do you use it reguarly at weekends so there would be opportunities to do some practice shots. The Canon G2 has a continuous rate of 1.5fps. Would you use JPEG rather than Raw to take the images?
    I think that using RAW could be an issue with the G2 as it takes a few secs to process and taking another shot quickly is not possible.

    The image was taken with the Canon G2 and from this range the cyclists will be tiny! I think the chance of getting roadside will be pretty difficult.

    Cheers for now

    Gary

    Capturing sports/action images

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Assuming that is a full frame crop, it appears to be taken at FL = 12mm on a G2, that’s about FL = 60mm on a 35 format, so to get near the action, at similar to that Camera Viewpoint you’ll need about a 400mm lens on a 135 format camera . . .
    So, for a bit of wiggle room the EF100 to 400F/4.5~5.6L USM and a 7D and a monpod would be a nice package to rent.

    WW

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Hi Gary,

    I grabbed this example to demonstrate that shutter speed isn't as critical as you may think, that was before I realised your viewing position wasn't going to be ideal but the principle may be useful for other shoots.

    If you practice your panning technique you can get a pretty slow shutter speed, which is nice as you can keep some background blur and some motion blur in the feet and wheels, which helps with the sense of movement.

    This was shot at 33mm, 1/60, f11, ISO100:

    Capturing sports/action images

    The rider is sharp but there is plenty of movement in the shot. As I say this will take some practice with your panning technique but personally I think it results in a more pleasing image. This particular photo was for a client and while the rider isn't going at racing speeds he wasn't exactly hanging around either.

    Cheers,
    Adrian

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Perhaps this webinar might provide some guidance.

    http://www.manfrottoschoolofxcellenc...golden-greats/

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Perhaps what you might aim at is getting an overall view of the race + spectators + environment. Sometimes, sports images of other than just the competitors are interesting.

    However, perhaps you might consider establishing your shooting position more toward the right of where you shot the image above. That way the clump of trees in the canter of the image would not get in the way of the cyclists as they are passing. It also looks like you would have a long straight stretch approaching directly towards your camera position (the relatively straight stretch that is obscurred by the trees in your image).

    With the group of cyclists approaching dead on, it would be easier to shoot.

    It seems as if the front pack might be framed by trees on each side of the road which will provide a nice image.

    If you are thinking about renting gear, you probably need to make your reservation early. I would imagine that rental gear might be pretty hard to come by when the Olympics hit the U.K.

    Good luck!

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    William, John thanks for your replies. The image below is a potential viewing point. You need to imagine that it will be filled with a couple of thousand people! Local cyclists do you use it reguarly at weekends so there would be opportunities to do some practice shots. The Canon G2 has a continuous rate of 1.5fps. Would you use JPEG rather than Raw to take the images?
    I think that using RAW could be an issue with the G2 as it takes a few secs to process and taking another shot quickly is not possible.

    The image was taken with the Canon G2 and from this range the cyclists will be tiny! I think the chance of getting roadside will be pretty difficult.

    Cheers for now

    Gary

    Capturing sports/action images
    This post is very interesting to me as we will be flying back for The Olympics and heading towards Dorking for the cycling. Hopefully I would have improved my panning technique by then. Is this pic on the Zig Zag Road at Boxhill?

    Gary, the Boxhill section is being cycled 9 times by the men on 28th July and twice by the women on the 29th. The comforting news for me is if I don't get it right the first time there are going to be quite a few more chances. Also that section is steep and the cyclists won't be going that quickly during the uphill sections. We're thinking of watching the men for the uphill stuff on the 28th and the next day see the women on a downhill section when panning will be necessary.

  10. #10

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Thanks for all your replies. Yes, this is the part of the course known as the zig-zag. Last week it took me around 40-50 minutes to get to there from the train station and the streets were empty. When the Olympics comes to town its going to be a lot busier. As you rightly say the zig-zag is an uphill run so they would be going relatively slowly. I think there is another area also called Donkey Green which is a viewing area.Both, are ticket only areas so it is going to be pot luck to get a ticket! The shooting position very much depends on how the spectators fan out around the area. I think that there are 15,000 total tickets available. I think that trying to get an overall view of the scene i.e. cyclists, crowd etc as well as trying to target the cyclists will be an interesting challenge!

    I think if I do actually manage to get a ticket I will go back and take some more shots from different places. It is a popular spot with local cyclists so there would be opportunities to practice on these.

    I have added another image which is from the road which is at the top of the climb. It is looking down on the bend from the other shot. I managed to get some cyclists in the shot. But as you can see some sort of telephoto/zoom would be essential to get detail. I'm not certain if this place were I took this shot from is one of the ticketed areas?


    Cheers for now

    Gary

    Capturing sports/action images
    Last edited by oldgreygary; 26th May 2012 at 08:48 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Hi Gary,

    I shot road race cylcists with a bridge camera back in 2008 and there are some albums in my Picasa presence that may be of interest. It had a much wider zoom than you have, but not all were shot at the telephoto end.

    If not showing when you first visit, you can view the shooting info by clicking the little right pointing arrow beside the words "Photo Information" (recommended method), or using the "Full Details Page" link.

    The focal lengths shown should be multiplied by 4.8 to get the 35mm equivalent, which I think are what your Canon uses.

    They all look horribly black clipped to me now, but that was before my PP skills had developed much (at the time I'd only just started here at CiC). Must try to shoot again this summer, now I have a better camera and a lot more PP experience.

    Cheers,

  12. #12

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Managed to get tickets for the event, so game on. All I have to do now is do an impersonation of a half-decent photographer to make some interesting shots!

    Cheers for now

    Gary

  13. #13
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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    One thing about cycling is the time that a peleton takes to pass is very small, way less than a minute. The first time I photographed cyclists, all my photos (11 of them) were taken with 20 seconds. The next 8 times I typically got between 30 and 40 images within 35 seconds or so. I didn't realize this the first time I photographed the Tour de France, so I was forced to go again! ;~) But, the second time, I also found a really excellent position where I'd be where my head (so I could frame the pictures properly) would be about 7 feet above the peleton and I've tried to get that position each other time except when I wanted to get moving wheels, etc. My most favorite picture is a cyclist from an Italian team grimacing as he came up the hill.

    HTH.

    v

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Not long after I first got my 40D and still only had the kit lens, I went to France on holiday and, by chance, the Tour-de-France was passing by the front door. "No problem", thought I, "This has got to be easy".

    Well, one disaster later.........!

    Last year, when I was back in France, we again came across a cycle race (not 'The Tour'). I think I knew a bit more by then and planned the thing better. Below is one that I felt was okay from this.

    But when you look at the French press (because, of course, cycling is huge over there) and see the quality of action shots that their staff and agency 'togs produce, you realise that this requires a lot of practice and skill.

    So, if it hasn't been made already above, my suggestion would be to get out and practice shooting cyclists - any sort of cyclist. Just to get a feel for doing it. It will pay dividends on the day.


    Capturing sports/action images
    40D, 70-200mm f/4L IS @ 70mm. ISO100. 1/1000@f5.6.
    Last edited by Donald; 31st May 2012 at 08:53 AM.

  15. #15

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    Re: Capturing sports/action images

    Thanks for your replies. I'm beginning to fully understand that it is not as easy it it would seem. As mentioned one of the issues is that they do pass in a relatively short space of time. My Canon G2 has at least a 5 second delay between processing a RAW file and being able to take another shot. In that space of time the pack would be gone. They do have to go round several times so I guess part of the tactics would be to break up the pack. So as the race goes on the photo opportunities might get better. Its going to be difficult to pick a spot so I think I need to be prepared for whatever the situation is. The good thing is that the venue is local to me so there will be opportunities to try out things as local cyclists use it. I will also have to check out the local cycling clubs and see when they hold races so as to gather some experience of what it will be like. As also suggested I will try and get some more general shots which capture the day. It will be a good challenge to see what I can make of it.

    Cheers for now

    Gary

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