Hockey shoot tomorrow, what settings for D300?

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by MD2595, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. MD2595

    MD2595

    835
    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I'll be using the D300 w/ a Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 two-ringer and a Sigma 120-300 f2.8 lens for a Bantam hockey game (12-14 year olds).

    I'm having a hard time with the following settings:

    1. Focus mode selector : Single or Continuous?
    2. AF area mode selector : Single or Dynamic? If Dynamic, then 9/21/51 or 51 point dynamic?
    3. Metering selector: 3D Color Matrix II, Center-weighted, or Spot????


    Thanks.

    I've been shooting my boy's hockey, baseball, and some friend's soccer, and I've noticed some of the shots have focused on the parents behind the fence, another player, etc...

    I'm just trying to eleminate the off focus shots if possible.

    Thanks
     
  2. 1. Continuous... absolutely. You'll get about 3 keepers in 100 otherwise when action is on.

    2. I prefer single and simple. (Same with my dates... ha) Go with the 11-point single mode and set focus tracking to LONG. This will simplify the AF selection for you and also keep the camera from grabbing focus on board ads, players without the puck, etc. Make sure you get the AF point squarely on a meaty part of the uniform or face ideally, and track smoothly.

    3. I use center weighted for most sports, because it's the "best of both worlds" kind of compromise, you'll get some extra exposure to faces but not completely blow out everything except the target.

    Hockey isn't easy, in fact IMHO it's the hardest sport to shoot because it's got wicked fast action (you're way faster on skates than shoes), and the worst lighting you can imagine.

    So here's some more tips:

    - Custom WB. If you can, set a custom WB off the ice, about 1/2 way through your intended shooting zone, and OOF.
    - Shoot RAW. Cycling lights mean pink one area, blue the next, and different from shot to shot. Shooting RAW lets you tweak the WB and get optimal results.
    - If you have to shoot through the glass, use the lens hood and get it right up to the glass, using your other hand as both a light shield and a support. You'd be amazed how glare off the glass robs contrast and detail and kills your shots. Try to stay perpendicular to the glass as much as possible.
    - Jack that ISO up to give you the shutter speeds you want. For that age group you'll likely want at LEAST 1/400th, more would be better. So don't be afraid to shoot ISO3200 with that camera - trust me it's great at ISO3200.
    - HISTOGRAM IS YOUR KEY! A properly exposed ISO3200 shot will be less noisy and have better detail and saturation than an underexposed ISO1000 shot that's "fixed" in post. You want the ice to be starting to blow out a little - so check that histogram and make sure you're getting it to the right edge and verging on blowing slightly.
    - If you're shooting aperture or shutter priority, set an EC of +1-1/3 or even +1-2/3. That will make sure that the camera puts the exposure to the faces and gets that histogram to the right.

    Other than that, mix it up, and don't get discouraged if you aren't completely satisfied with the first time out. It's tough but when you see improvement you'll really be glad you kept at it. Post up the results.

    These are D300 hockey shots, most at ISO3200:

    U_D30_0592.jpg

    U_D30_0612.jpg

    U_D30_0519.jpg
     
  3. MD2595

    MD2595

    835
    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    Thanks for the tips. I brought my camera with me to work, so in a little while I'll go get it and apply the settings before I leave for the game.

    Here's a pic I took of my son in a scrimmage weekend before last. He was icing the puck while on a penalty kill.

    Again, thanks for your advice,

    Matt

    [​IMG]
     
  4. MD2595

    MD2595

    835
    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I've checked the 5,000 page D300 owner's manual, and I can't find a 11 point single AF mode? :confused:


    Edit - Never mind, I found it buried in the menu in the camera, not in the owner's manual.......
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2008
  5. MD2595

    MD2595

    835
    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    Ahh, only if it were that easy. You can read the manual and get conflicting information, so I figured it would be easiest to ask those that do instead of trying to interpret a manual.

    Besides, AF is covered in pages 64-66 of the manual, and the only option for point selection shows to be in Dynamic-Area AF.

    Oh, and I might have been misleading. I'm a parent that shoots my boys' sports, I'm not a pro getting paid for any of this. I'm thinking about doing photography after I retire in 10 years or so.....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2008
  6. Definitely not a bad start there at all, MD. (You a doctor by any chance?)

    Good saturation, straight horizon, got the face...

    Keep at it!
     
  7. Kurt

    Kurt

    561
    May 30, 2006
    North Boston, NY
    The only thing I would suggest you do differently than what DJ mentions is to shoot in manual mode. He seems to get great results using an exposure compensation of +1.33, I find it easier to meter the rink and shoot a shot during warm ups and then leave it alone.

    I don't own a D300 so cannot really comment on the AF specifically for it, but in the lower light of hockey rinks with the D200 I found it tracked better with the single point continuous mode.

    Also, he mentioned but I will say read it again...use your "PREset" white balance and use the ice as white. Easier to get it in camera than go through even with lightroom or other software after the fact.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. MD2595

    MD2595

    835
    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    Thanks, that pic is a jpeg straight out of the camera with a touch of tint adjustment from Lightroom.

    No, not a Doc, just my initials.

    Matt
     
  9. MD2595

    MD2595

    835
    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    That's a nice pic. Do you shoot RAW or JPEG? I take it the puck is on the back of the player's stick? I like how you can see that the player on the ice probably was just checked but got a pass up to the team mate?

    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only parent that makes his kid wear a neck guard. They are optional at Bantam and above here, buy for my kid it's mandatory.

    Matt

    And, GO STARS!!!!
     
  10. I should mention or clarify my position there. I don't disagree with you at all. In fact, I would prefer to shoot full manual all the time too.

    What I was suggesting is that IF you are shooting A or S priority, you force the camera to compensate for the white image with the +1-1/3 rule (or so). In fact though, at a lot of amateur arenas, A or S priority will actually work out better if the lighting is very inconsistent. At a better-lit rink, I'll go with full manual.

    Trouble is, many of the rinks we shoot in look like THIS:

    oct16faceoff4.gif

    ... and in these cases full manual settings tend to make for some wild differences in exposure shot-to-shot, both with metering and also WB. That's why I'll always shoot RAW with hockey.
     
  11. Oh, and one more tip for high ISO hockey with the D300...

    Download and install the D2X Picture Control modes for the D300 from the Nikon websites. Try out Mode III... it's excellent for high ISO & quick shutter combos... gets a lot of saturation and clean lows into the camera.
     
  12. MD2595

    MD2595

    835
    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX

    Thanks for the additional input. I only shoot sports in Manual. Not that I'm good, it just seems to work for me, instead of working against what the camera wants to do.

    The rinks down here look just as bad. They all try to save on lights by letting them die completely before replacing them. They also tend to run the lights at less than full power to save money.

    Matt
     
  13. Kurt

    Kurt

    561
    May 30, 2006
    North Boston, NY
    I am right across the river from you DJ and ours look the same. The problem I run into if I shoot aperture priority is (and this is shooting without strobes which should also be mentioned) is that it depends on how much of the frame is filled up with players as to what the exposure is like. I have found for me at least that the difference between the darker and brighter areas of the rink is usually only about 1/3 stop and if you expose a bit high you will get blown out ice is some shots but I don't mind that. I shot in aperture priority at a game a few years ago and had a great shot except the kids face was so dark from the ice around him...but then again I did not have the exposure compensation set that high. heading to a game now might give that a try for a period...

    I have never been to a rink in Toronto, hopefully we will make a trip up there this year. I know the team my son is on is only playing in one Canadian tourney this year a bit further east.
     
  14. Let me know if you ever end up closer this way. We've been to Buffalo and Pittsburgh for a tourney... the Pepsi tourney is a pretty big one each year.

    How old is your son?
     
  15. What town are they playing?
     
  16. Kurt

    Kurt

    561
    May 30, 2006
    North Boston, NY
    I do not recall which town we are travelling too in Canada this year and they still have not provided us with a full calendar of events. If I remember from the team meeting correctly that is in December.

    My son is Pee Wee Major (96' birth year) and yes the Pepsi tourney here is pretty big each year I am normally working that one for a local company that does the action shots for them.