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Thread: SportsFan heads to the Stage

  1. #1
    wilgk's Avatar
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    SportsFan heads to the Stage

    I am hoping the group has time to give some more advice to the dedicated sport photographer (in training).
    It seems we host a house music competition and I have been asked to move to that genre, just when I thought I was safe to be left alone improving my field of choice!.
    Oh well as a dedicated geek I searched through last years archive of photos and looked at the data which was available on the saved jpg images.
    The photographer from last year isn't working at the school, anymore, so that line of advice is gone.
    It appears all are taken with 1/60 exposure time - they look to me like they have had flash used (type unknown) by the eyes.
    The ISO is on 400 the apeture vares from 4 - 5.6 with focal lengths varying from 75/170/240/300 using a canon 400D so crop factor applies.
    My first thought is that a slow zoom has been used - so if I try my faster lens that should help - however my concerns are with this event I would be trying to get a small ensemble a large ensemble or a (part) of the house choir in focus i.e a wider depth of field group - unlike sport where I am only after 1 or 1 on 1 competitor and the narrrow depth of field I get when using 2 - 2.8 apeture is okay.
    Also the potential problem of contrast based auto-focus could have me locking onto the shiny musical instrument and not the child performing if using too narrow a depth of field.
    I will attach some examples from last year in the hope soemone else has been in a similar situation.
    Each house has a full choir performance where the lighting backdrop is bright red/blue/yellow or green respectively.
    Then each house has a soloist/a small ensemble 4-6 kids and a large ensemble 15- 20 kids for these the background is pretty much black.
    I'm guessing the only good points are I should have freedom of movement to get to the best viewing spot.
    Any suggestions as to lens choice/exposure speedlight flash yes or no - would be greatly appreciated.
    I have a 24-70 2.8 on hire as a test - other than that I have 'fast' primes of 50/85/200 to use with the 7D
    Thank you all in advance and maybe I'll get lucky and they might have a rehearsal time that I can get to as well!
    Kay
    SportsFan heads to the Stage
    SportsFan heads to the Stage
    SportsFan heads to the Stage
    SportsFan heads to the Stage

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Hi Kay,

    The biggest problem I see with last year's shots are they are all under exposed (and wrong WB) and someone went mad with the red-eye software giving the brilliant white 'cats eyes' effect in many people

    Regarding the WB, the flash was fighting a losing battle against ambient tungsten lighting, whether available light shooting is possible on a faster lens and higher iso, I don't know. Depends how much PP time you're allowed to deal with noise.

    Definitely catch the dress rehearsal if you can, but make sure there's time to review your shots on a computer before the main event.

    Must dash, good luck,

  3. #3

    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Kay

    It looks as if the camera used 1/60 as it was in flash mode, and most Canons will fire at 1/60 on auto mode. It's not really fast enough when people are moving.

    What exactly is the purpose of these shots? Is it to form a record of the event? If so, then I think your only answer is to get more light onto the subjects. Are other (overhead) lights available? Can they be used for long enough to allow you to get better shots than the ones you posted? You need at least 1/100s, and you need to sort out the WB, which was on auto according to the EXIF.

    Slight aesthetic point - what will they be wearing on the main night, uniform or casual? The girl on sax would look better in casual gear.

    As for lenses, the 24-70 f/2.8 sounds good. You need a fast lens. But you may need to get close for some shots - are you able to do that, or would you need a second camera with a longer lens?

    Edited one of your shots to cool the WB. There is quite a problem with shadows on their faces, isn't there? probably hard to avoid in a choir group where they are standing close together.

    SportsFan heads to the Stage
    Last edited by carregwen; 7th May 2010 at 08:41 AM.

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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Make friends with your gaffer. Make sure you know what temperature his lights emit, work with him on his lighting script and make sure you attend the rehearsals where he is involved and practicing.

    Make notes during rehearsal and go over them with him afterwards, with (mild) suggestions on how how can help you. The last one of those I shot (1958) I had some studio strobes set up in the forward wings which helped much. However, 98% of the shots I ended up using for the book and publication in the newspapers were taken during dress rehearsal. I did get some crowd shots at the beginning of the show, when I could use flash on the gathering audience.

    Also, make friends with the conductor. He will be happy to help you before the performance and will assist you in placing his cast members for you. Plan to get some "personal" shots during dress rehearsal, to get the cast and staff while the pressure is lower.

    My relationship with the gaffer was pretty good, on a professional to professional basis. The conductor cost me a bottle of good whiskey, which I had to ask my father to buy for me.

    Pops

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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Hi Kay,

    I had a quick play with one of the images to get a better feeling for what was going on ...

    SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Here's how I see it ...

    - It's pretty much all about the lighting. In this respect you pretty much have a couple of choices; either work with it, or over-power it. Overpowering it would be impossible without some pretty heavy-duty strobes, so I'm assuming that that option is probably off the menu.

    - Working with the existing lighting, you have a couple of choices; either just run with what's there, or suppliment it with additional flash. Not sure what kind of flash equipment you have access to (if any), but ideally you'll probably need something off camera with a remote trigger, and by "something" I mean idealy more than 1.

    - If you do suppliment the existing lighting you'll need to avoid what's called "mixed lighting" at all costs; mixed lighting is where you have one colour from the flash (ypically around 5000 kelvin, and another from the house lights (probably in the region of 3000 kelvin). To get around it you need to match what's coming out of the flash by putting a fancy thing called a "gel" over it (fancy word for coloured bit of plastic). If you can get close enough to the performers then this option might help, especially at higher ISO.

    In the preset modes Canon cameras will stop the shutterspeed dropping below 1/60th to minimise camera shake - this is fine if not much ambient light is getting in - but you WILL get motion blur and camera shake if there's too much ambient light in the exposure. You're probably better off putting the camera in manual mode - set the shutterspeed for around 1/200th (the highest you can shoot with a flash without using high-speed sync). Open the aperture wide up - and then raise the ISO as high as you need to get a good exposure.

    The other issue associated with lighting is getting a good white balance - in this respect it would be really helpful (read "really Really REALLY helpful")if you could shoot a reference frame with a gray card in it, thus greatly assisting with getting accurate skin tones. The white balance in the shot above was very difficult.

    Lastly, lens selection. The 24-70/2.8L is a great lens - love mine dearly - but if I had to take just 1 lens, I'd be taking an EF70-200/F2.8L IS USM - even on a crop camera. Other glass like the 75-300 used in the shot above is going to be too slow, and not stunningly sharp.

    Hope this provides a good starting point for you
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 8th May 2010 at 10:29 AM.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    ... but if I had to take just 1 lens, I'd be taking an EF70-700/F2.8L IS USM
    Typo, or that's a new lens in the Canon L series. Maybe the 70-200 would do the job!

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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Typo, or that's a new lens in the Canon L series. Maybe the 70-200 would do the job!
    Darn - another Canon NDA violation (they haven't forgiven me for the 1Ds4 prototype leak yet either!). Forget I mentioned it - just pretend I said 70-200!

    Actually - in all seriousness - By way of an administrative error, Gary Fong ended up with a couple of Canon 1D prototypes ... and he sold one on eBay before it was even announced. Apparantly when he had "that conversation" with the Canon manager the conversation started with a long pause, followed by 'Gary, what where you thinking?"

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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Thankyou all - advice gratefully received. The event is this Friday, I will let you know how I get on - the purpose is for school website & magazine only nothing too fancy!
    The stamp of approval from the kids is when after an event - their facebook profile picture changes.

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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage

    Quote Originally Posted by wilgk View Post
    The stamp of approval from the kids is when after an event - their facebook profile picture changes.
    I wouldn't count on it ... i've offered to do a nice shot for my daughter's facebook page and got something along the lines of "Daaaad - who gets a professional photograph taken for their facebook page!"

  10. #10
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage - Results!

    Thankyou again to all who offered advice - when I got there it all made sense each option to follow!
    I didn't have 2 bodies or a 70-200 so I did my best to get around and swap lenses etc.
    I did make a new friend in the lighting tech man as well
    I was happy with my start following the guidance - so will practice again if I get the chance way from the sports dept.
    Oh and the best bit - the right team won! - is that my daughter in the winners are grinners shot? - yep - fb profile being updated as we speak.
    SportsFan heads to the Stage

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage - Results!

    Hi Kay,

    Double congratulations are due then, eh?

    I guess your daughter will be the one looking at Mum (behind the camera)?

    Very good shot, I see the EXIF says 1/125s at f4, iso 2500 on a Canon 7D at 38mm, good focus.
    Very well post processed too, no significant noise, sharp and looks natural.

    Keep up the good work,

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    Re: SportsFan heads to the Stage - Results!

    I did make a new friend in the lighting tech man as well
    Good show. That will make things much easier in the future. A friendly gaffer is priceless.

    Pops

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