Relating back to the recent shoot with Max and his crew here are the rest of the shots. Some came out really well and others were not bad… they could be better with two main reasons, a better autofocus on my camera and more control over the location.
Coming from shooting sports for the day job with a Canon 1D Mk III to my own Nikon D40… it is like coming from a Porsche 911 to a Renault Clio…. huge difference in the ability of the camera. It is true that is is mostly the photographer and not the camera etc. etc. that makes a picture. but that goes out with window when it comes to shooting sports. Fast action with usually low light = photographer’s nightmare. If you do not have the gear to keep up with the speed of the action and to capture it, then you are going no where. From my experience that is.
The main things to consider from my experience are the autofocus speed and accuracy and your lens. If your camera cant focus quickly on a fast moving object then you are going to end up with an unusable shot. If your autofocus decides to focus on the background and not the subject, you going to end up with an unusable shot. If your lens only stops down to F4.5, then chances are your will not be able to let in enough light to keep up the shutter speed to sufficiently freeze the action. Depending on your sport and the type of shot you need, you typically need to be shooting at least 1/500s to capture the action.
In my case, the autofocus was letting me down. The focus on the D40 is just not fast enough to track a guy on a skate board. I had to shoot in manual focus most of the time after pre-focusing on a point and then switching to manual. This assumed that I would capture the guys at just point and hope that they are pulling a cool move.
The Subject was caught a tadd to early, 1/25s later and I would have caught him in flight but out of focus. Compare with below
It is clear to see that the lower shot was has more action in it as the skater is higher in the air and mid-move if you like. While I am on that shot, the background was the other thing that could improve those shots. It is a bit distracting I think. That is the joys of shooting on location though.
So that is autofocus. The other main thing for shooting sports is a fast lens. You want a F2.8 lens at least. In order to keep that shutter speed up while getting a decent exposure, you need open up that aperture and let in as much light as possible. Newer camera can produce high quality images at higher isos, but you will still want the 2.8 lens. As for my shoot with the lads, I was using my Nikor 35mm 1.8 for all the shots. This worked out at 52mm equivalent on the D40 body. I used this lens because it is my sharpest lens and also because my 18-55 kit lens broke 🙁
Top Group Shot – Single Nikon SB600 camera right, bare with 1/4 cto gell.
All other shots involved 2 x SB600’s in usually cross lighting arrangements, all bare with no umbrellas.