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  1. #1
    Digidurst's Avatar
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    Sports photography for the novice

    Hi everyone In a few weeks I will be photographing a local cycling race as a volunteer. My bike club just wants some pictures for the website. I'm happy to help and I want to do a good job so I'm going to be 'cramming' until the event to improve my action shooting skills which are pretty much non-existent as I mostly shoot things that are still. I'm thinking I might use my Mamiya 645 - maybe.

    So, I would really appreciate any tips or advice any of you could offer regarding technique, equipment, etc. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    I have shot sports over the years, I can't say that the 645 is the best tool for the job, when I started out, I was shooting a Minolta XD-11 with a motor drive and a 200mm f/2.8 lens, I have had a couple of 645 for years now and used them for various types of shooting, but would not consider them as easy to handle or as fast as might be required for sports work, currently I shoot a 300 f/2.8 on a Minolta 9xi with the motor drive set to high speed, one of the keys with sports photography is speed, and it don't matter what sport your shooting, the faster you can shoot the action, the better your chances of getting those unique shots that turn out to be memorable, when shooting sports, I don't use a tripod, but I do use a monopod, which allows good steadyness as well as great flexability to move as the action moves..

    Anyway, have fun.

    Dave

  3. #3

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    I used to do quite a lot of motorsports and powerboating photography including F1 and Superbikes. You need a fast 35mm lens, preferably over 300m but it depends on how close you can get to the action. With cycling, as with motor racing, you have to convey a sense of speed and movement. Set your camera to shutter priority and a shutter speed of around 1/60 to 1/125 sec. This will allow you to pan with the cyclist, blur the background and get movement in the wheels. The wheel movement is the most important for side on shots. If you use too fast a shutter speed the wheels and background look static and this gives no impression of movement, in fact the cycles look as if they're stationary. I practised panning on a normal street by photographing passing cars, and the technique is very similar to clay pigeon shooting! You pick up your subject as they are coming towards you, follow them and press the shutter when they are squaare on to you. However you must follow through with the panning movement as it is this that gives the blurred background instead of a blurred subject.

    The other option is to get on a corner and shoot the riders coming towards you. This is more dramatic with motorcycles as the riders lean a lot more. By using a longer telephoto lens you can compress a group of riders coming towards you giving the impression of a much closer race that is normally the case.

    Good luck and enjoy it.
    So many drummers, so little time.

  4. #4
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    Is it a road race, or criterium ?
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  5. #5

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    35 mm is far better for sports photography then 6x4.5.

    That said, David Burnett has used 6x4.5 and 4x5 to make fabulous sports images.

    http://www.davidburnett.com/

    Also check out http://www.sportsshooter.com

    Do a search on bicycle photography, both on sportsshooter and on the internet.

    Mostly, just have fun and put your stamp on the images.

  6. #6

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    I do quite a bit of sprint boat photography and agree a 35mm seems best. I have used MF and have gotten some good shots but, by far, have mostly used 35. I primarily use a Nikon f3 with a motor, a Nikon Fm with a motor, and several fast lenses from 135 to 400. I also use a zoom but it's harder to get the speed I need. I can't really add to the great advice above except 2 (or more) cameras has been very valuable. I can use different fixed lenses with better opportunities and I also have a backup when the film in one or the other needs changed.
    BTW, though I see an occasional film shooter, digital photography virtually dominates this sport professionally. I get some pretty goofy looks from the "pros" and am somewhat of an "oddball" on the circuit. One photog boasts that he takes over 3000 shots of a race day. The most I've ever taken is 1200 and that was a LOT of film changing. I still shoot transparencies and have had some good luck with them but for the most part people are asking for their photos quickly. I've turned a lot of heads, though, over the quality difference in analog when I show the slides.
    Good shooting!
    [COLOR=Blue][FONT=Georgia]Jim Anderson[/FONT][/COLOR]

  7. #7
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sajianphotos
    I get some pretty goofy looks from the "pros" and am somewhat of an "oddball" on the circuit. One photog boasts that he takes over 3000 shots of a race day. The most I've ever taken is 1200 and that was a LOT of film changing. I still shoot transparencies and have had some good luck with them but for the most part people are asking for their photos quickly. I've turned a lot of heads, though, over the quality difference in analog when I show the slides.
    Good shooting!
    I agree, getting a lot of shots can be a pain, I keep three identical Minolta 9xi's going all the time when shooting a sporting event, my wife acts as my assistant and as I empty one, she hands me another loaded and ready to go, all I have to do is dismount and remount another body, but it works out good, I have shot as much as the digital guys during a shoot, and I have to say, whether I review on the light table or the computer, I would take the light table any day!

    Dave

  8. #8
    NikoSperi's Avatar
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    Alot of good advice, but I'd disagree with one aspect: the need for bazooka-style focal lengths. Granted, if you aren't allowed to get closer, you have little choice. But with cycling you run more the risk of getting run over than not seeing. The most effective shots I've gotten, either waterskiing or snow skiing, were not the ones I "picked off" sniper style but the ones taken close up and personal.
    If you tone it down alot, it almost becomes bearable.

    - Walker Evans on using color

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by NikoSperi
    The most effective shots I've gotten, either waterskiing or snow skiing, were not the ones I "picked off" sniper style but the ones taken close up and personal.
    Good point. Never pass up the up close if one can. Facial and body expressins in sports are great. That brings up another point. As I said, I use (mostly) slide film for the vivd color, which most sports enthusiasts really want. IMHO when you think about it sports are really saturated with color and it's important to render vivd, or more precisely true color, but the drawback I have with transparency is the narrow shadow range. The ideal is to render good colors WHILE capturing detail in the shadow (often the faces are in the shadow). I am still looking for a good film for that. Fuji 400 and even 800 are decent but some other suggestions might be useful.
    [COLOR=Blue][FONT=Georgia]Jim Anderson[/FONT][/COLOR]

  10. #10
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Most of the stuff I have had printed in magazines, including taking the olympics in Austrailia were taken with a large telephoto with a big aperture, rendering the background unfocused, the film I used the most when working in this arena has been provia 400 or provia 100, both good on color, low grain the 400 works great for fast action shots when early in the morning or later in the evening, I do however agree, getting the "Up Close and Personal" shots are very important, if you can get close enough to get the beads of sweat on the forehead and the upper lip, you got a winner, I have also pushed provia 400 1 stop and shot at 800 with it and got images that were quite printable in the magazines.

    Anyway you choose to do it, over the next week do some practice, follow the birds around the yard, and follow the cars down the street as was suggested by another!

    Dave

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