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Racing Greyhound photography

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by greyhound rick, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. Hello everyone. This is my first post and I thank you for allowing me into the Nikon Cafe!!

    I have been an avid photographer for about a year now and have tried to learn as much as possible. We love to go to Phoenix Greyhound Park and shoot the greyhound races (we go about 3-4 nights per week). We also own race dogs and are on the Board of Directors of Racing Home Greyhound Adoption which is VERY important to us.

    Here are a few photos I took the last few times out to the track:

    In this one...only the 2 dog (blue blanket) is in sharp focus:

    2724006221_8a1e4b5258.jpg
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    Here are a couple more:

    2724005357_44c167282c.jpg
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    2708237889_3ba34a7e31.jpg
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    Since this is my first post, Im not sure if this is the right area on the board to ask for advice, but I will anyway.....if I need to address this somewhere else on the board please let me know and I appologize for not knowing the proper procedure yet.

    Im using a D300 with mostly 2 lenses. A recently received 70-200 f/2.8 and a 50mm f/1.8. Ive noticed that with a lot of my images shot with the 70-200 in the very difficult first turn area, that during playback of the images on the camera monitor (using focus point display feature), that the greyhound that the focus point is on is not in focus, yet the greyhounds behind the focus point are in focus. What can cause this to happen?

    I would think that it could be back focus, but my lens was checked and it is spot on.

    Also, I guess it could be that my camera/lens combo isnt processing the information fast enough and by the time the camera focuses to the time the shutter has completed its journey, the dogs have moved and the ones in the back are now in the "focus area".

    Ive changed my focus interval to "short".

    Any thoughts on this? Im getting about 25% of my "first turn" photos in focus which I think is pretty low (maybe not?). I use panning and zone focusing techniques, but am wide open to any suggestions you may have.

    Thanks for your time and again, its great to be on board with you!

    my best,

    Rick
     
  2. willsparklin

    willsparklin Guest

    Rick, first and foremost welcome to the board.

    What are your AF settings on? I found that with my D200 (and most any other pro-sumer body) that just setting it on Spot-center with AF-c and normal lock on and pointing at what I wanted in focus nets the most keepers. Giving it three or more points to analyze really diminishes my autofocus accuracy and speed in sports and other action shots.

    However, if you're shotting a group AF setting, make sure you've got the group dynamic set to closest subject, assuming of course you want the lead log in focus.

    As a side note, greyhounds look like a total blast to shoot.
     
  3. hey Rick, welcome aboard (it's me, Beltane :biggrin:) ...as I'm sure you know, Nikon dropped the group dynamic from the D200 to the D300, so Willsparklin's advice won't help on that point...but as he said, AF-C will definitely make a diff.

    And, as we've 'chatted', give that single point a try. And, try using the AF-ON button instead of the shutter release button to focus. This is CSM a5, it should be set to "OFF", meaning AF-ON only. What this does is lets you acquire focus as they're coming around the corner, and in combo w/ AF-C, keeps reacquiring focus as you track them, then when you have the shot you want, you can start tripping the shutter.

    If possible, can you post some images w/ the EXIF data intact? If you're using PhotoShop, don't use the 'Save for Web' option as it strips the data....just save as a regular .jpg, albeit in the 125-150k range (probably). I forgot to ask earlier what f stop you were using...your depth of field may also be impacting the focus as the dogs in the same 'plane' as the light blue (pic #1) look fairly sharp.

    Anyway, some of the more knowledgeable folks here will chime in shortly....
     
  4. acena

    acena

    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    Chris is right. The best way to increase the chances that what you point at is what is indeed is in focus is to use single point AF or let the others be active but manually select the AF point. When you start using a group of AF points then the camera starts trying to think for you.
     
  5. willsparklin

    willsparklin Guest

    Guess I didn't have my hands on a D300 long enough to realize that group dynamic wasn't an option. Sorry on that part.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2008
  6. haze2

    haze2

    780
    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Hi Rick and welcome to the Cafe. I loved your shots. I haven't been to Greyhound Park in years, but I think I'll pay a visit and try my hand at shooting the dogs. Did you take these from the stands or did you have better access?
     
  7. rick,
    welcome to THE CAFE
    great first series of images
    some wonderful advice above, of course

    i will look forward to you next series of images
    thanks for being here
     
  8. Beautiful, exciting captures.
    Increasing DOF makes your focusing issues more forgiving, but you may need the SS.
    Are you in manual mode?
    The less thinking the camera has to do, the quicker the shutter will fire.
    Fred
     
  9. edhu

    edhu

    86
    Jul 21, 2008
    NY/NJ
    great catch.
     
  10. Very interesting captures. I've never seen greyhound racing before. Welcome to the cafe. Post lots more. I've found that posting your images here provides you with great resources on how to get better captures.
     
  11. Sorry for jumping into this thread, but is there a Spot-Center AF setting on a D80? AFAIK, there's only spot-metering.

    I'm hoping to shoot a bicycle race tomorrow morning and this discussion is quite relevant.

    Thanks!
     
  12. Bear78

    Bear78

    54
    Jul 26, 2008
    Colorado
    I don't know if the D300 has this but on my D200 I set the single point to WIDE. CSM, a3.

    This really helped me get sharper and fast focus.

    So, I use,

    Single point
    CSM, A3 Wide
    AF-C
    CSM, A4 Center area
    CSM, A5 (AF Tracking) Norm
    On Lens (70-200mm)
    Limit Focus when far, full when close.
    VR on, Active

    (CSM = custom setting menu)
     
  13. Thank you for the welcome! Its great to be here and thank you for the comments.

    You should go to the track. Im sure you'll get some great shots.

    At night we shoot from the fence line in the straight away. In the afternoon we have permission from the track officials to get behind the wall in the first turn for a really nice angle as we are very close to the action. We just have to make sure we are still and not too noticeable!

    thanks again!
     

  14. Thanks! Im proud to be a member! :smile:
     
  15. Great input!

    Yes I switched to manual mode and I seem to do better when I stop down to 4+ aperture in the turns. When I shoot at open apertures in the straight a way (f/1.8-f/2.2) I can get away with it, but in the turns....no way! Im not good enough to work with that tight of a DOF margin so I need to compensate with a bumped up ISO and slower shutter.

    Do you think the D3 actually focuses faster than the D300? Ive never used one before. Thanks for the help!
     
  16. Interesting.....I havent seen it on the D300, but I havent read the entire manual...yet.....although at jury duty the other day I almost got through most of it!!!

    Yes...anything that you can suggest to get faster focus is most appreciated. Do you think setting the focus interval to "short" will help? Also, I noticed that you can set it to "off", I wonder if that actually gives you the fastest focus reaction of all. Im seeming to think for this type of shooting the less thinking the camera has to do the better for fast focus! ??
     
  17. Ah yes, the infamous "Focus Lock On". Most of us turn it completely OFF, especially for subjects coming towards you, which in this case, seems like it would apply.

    Yes (less thinking), that always helps...if you feel comfortable shooting Manual I'd suggest that, too.
     
  18. Thanks my friend! I will turn the focus interval "off" and hopefully that will allow for faster focus.

    Quick question for you.....

    Ive noticed that many times in a burst of 6-8fps that I will get a few shots in focus and a few OOF. Seems like everything is the same. Does the inconsistancey of the AF have something to do with this because the dogs are moving so fast and Im so close to them? or perhaps its a technique problem. (I try to stay on target and follow thru with my panning).

    Any comments are very much appreciated!

    thanks again,

    Rick

    Oh.....again, would a D3 allow for more shots in focus? Will it focus faster than the D300??
     
  19. Here are a few I took at schooling on Thursday 07/31/2008

    2728527395_a2aa729c20.jpg
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    2728525643_7bffc13a96.jpg
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    2729354686_d460dd3ec2.jpg
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  20. Hi Rick, I *think* that having a few shots OOF in a burst is standard...you have very fast moving targets...

    The D3 would probably do a better job, but it's a $3k premium, of course :) 

    Nice set of shots, that last one, looks like the dog is got their eyes on you.
     
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