Friday, June 27, 2008

How to shoot night football.....


Shooting night football games is a challenge, let alone doing sports photography is a challenge all together, then you add the lighting variables. Yikes!!! But it is fun and when you can get good shots, you win!! I've been asked, "So, how do you shoot night football."

Yes, I do use the BIG white L lens...currently just the 70-200mm IS f/2.8 and planning on getting the 300 IS f/2.8 when profits flow. My camera is a 40D and I'm loving it next to the Mark DIII that I can't have right now. However, if you do not have the right lens, you can rent them.....I use Borrowlenses.com....ask for Max. He's great!!

During the football game, from the start to the finish, I'm constantly changing my settings...of course, as the game progresses it gets darker...

At the start of the game, I use Shutter Priority, usually an iso of 400-800, shutter speed of 1/500 or lower[for the games in August/September, I go faster like 1/5000 why not, its bright enough].... f/4.0 - f/2.8. I do not use an extender for night games due to loss of the aperature...f/2.8 is needed hands down. Continuous shooting, AI Servo, center focus point....as the night progresses, I begin cranking up the iso [usually by halftime I'm at iso 3200], and start locking the aperature at f/2.8...so by then I typically switch between Aperature Priority or Program Auto Exposure. I have yet to attempt manual mode :)

And you are right, I do not use flash....I only have my built in or my 580EX and personally flash makes the photo look too fake IMO. I have seen nice ways of using external flashes, but right now, I don't want to add that to my bag. Instead, I move around the field [I'm on the sidelines right next to the coaches and players] and try to get the stadium light behind me, and I play around with my exposure compensation [ currently at 1/3 increments, but still playing around with what increments will work best] by increasing it...on my camera this little trick will not work in Manual Mode.

My lens has image stabilization....I do not use a monopod....too restrictive to get the cool shots and lessens my mobility. I will only use the monopod when its cold like in the teens and snowing because then my whole body is shaking and with that much shaking going on, the IS can't handle it. My coldest game was 10C and snow in West Virginia, proud to say however, that I was last photographer standing on the sidelines....

Also all my photos are taken in JPEG...I know shoot me now...I use RAW for my portraits, but with sports, I need speed and RAW just slows up the process. Plus, I typically take 1500+ photos per game. my 40D captures at 6.5 frames per sec and I need that. Also, I use a card with a write speed of 300x...this helps too. 133X will work as well,,,,don't use a an 80X just too slow for continuous shooting.

I use auto white balance, but making adjustments using White Balance shifting focusing on the visiting team's usually white jerseys....again very subtle shifting and sometimes not at all.

My post processing involves a batch processing through Noiseware, very subtle to minimize the high iso noise [the 40D does have built in noise reduction for high iso, which does great when your exposure is just right].....fix the levels, curves, color as needed, crop, then subtle unsharp masking (if needed). If the face is too dark and that is the emphasis, I paint light on their face - just a little trick that I like to use. And once in a while, I'll do my photoshop magic taking the image out of the ordinary :)

So in a nutshell, get a zoom lens of at least 200mm, 300mm is better, 400mm is great, 500-600mm is best, an aperature of f/2.8 or less, fast shutter speed until it gets dark, crank up the iso, continuous shooting centered focus.

Have fun... Go Steelers!!!

-denise:)

Seasoned Pros are welcome to provide their comments and tidbits too!!!!

6 comments:

Teresa said...

Thank you so much for sharing how you get it done! I am just getting started with sports photography now that my four-year-old is now exploring the world of t-ball and now soccer in the fall. I am currently learning on an XTI with a 300 lens, but am looking forward to getting my first L lens next month. I am going to start with the 70-200 f4 L and see where it takes me.

With soooo much to learn, it's nice to have someone willing to share their knowledge!

Thanks again!

Teresa

Denise Olson said...

You are welcome!!! I usually have nothing to hide :)

Jim, "Homer" said...

Great information Denise. I tend to shoot with and without the flash depending on the field I'm shooting at. Right now there are two fields that are in our league that have great lights, but the rest are terrible and I do use the flash.

When I use a flash I tend to shoot at the same settings that I would without a flash, but the difference it does for me is lessen the noise in the shot. I can shoot at max ISO's (3200) and virtually have very minimal noise with using a flash. I also tend to over expose my shots slightly. You get less noise when lowering the brightness then you would if you have to brighten up the shot.

I will say this Denise that it's not as much as what's right or wrong, but what works for you. I've seen your shots and right now not using a flash is working for you, so stay with it.

I so can't wait till football season. I can just close my eyes and feel it. Your on the sideline and the sun is going down fast. Both teams are on the field and the kickoff is seconds away. Your standing near the players and the stadium is full of yelling fans. You have the best seat in the house. Man I just love shooting football.

Denise Olson said...

Thanks for sharing your info, Homer. A wealth of information. You're pumping me up for the season. I cannot wait!!!!! Its a rush, a total rush...

Weddings 9-1-1 Photography and more! said...

Denise thanks for this great post, I just got another call last nite for a Sports shoot, I thought I was NOT going to but if folks dial 9-1-1 I must answer...lol! Anyways I agree with NO FLASH, EVER if at all possible. Do you have any sports images shot with a 300mm on this site? If so, please share....

I was thinking of Noise Ninja software for my sports shoots as well as any other noise deduction, but I see you are using Noiseware, PS CS3 sure doesn't do that great of a job with Noise Reduction, so I am trying to decide between both programs. Any help with your opinion on Noiseware would be appreciated of course...;o)

I agree with you on checking and resetting the settings at sporting events, and of course shooting Manual. I have to agree with you shooting an entire Sport event in RAW is way too time consuming, heck we've got kids to raise!

I'm waiting on the Canon 5D Mark II and my hubbys waiting on his
D700, yeh, he shoots with Nikon... perhaps I should hold off on Noise Reduction software, I hear the high ISO looks amazing on these puppies.....

Anyways thanks for sharing....and I can't wait to see Nancy's photoshoot of the Olson family, and I can't wait to meet YOU! I hear it's going to happen in a couple of weeks. WOO HOO!

bbowling20 said...

For now I am using the only lens i have which is a 18-135. You said that a 200mm is good but do you think the 135 will suffice?