Suggestions for Sports in a gym?

Discussion in 'Photojournalism, Candids and Street Photography' started by RDM3, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. RDM3

    RDM3

    168
    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    Suggestions for Shooting Sports in a gym?

    Shooting outside games is usually real easy, but when I go inside for basketball, wrestling etc, gym lighting is bad. Normally I shoot with a flash in Manual mode and set the S and A and take test shots to see how they turn out. I know each gym is different, some have nice new lights, some are old and dingy. What do you usually do? I would love to not have to use a flash.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2005
  2. Well first thing I find important is get the WB correct, I use a preset WB using the expodisk, but what ever means is good fro you will work the mixed lighting gives terrible results in most modes.
    I then take some test snaps and figure what ISO I need to get the shutter speed I need. I always shoot on a monopod or some sort of support to try and get the crispest shots possible.
    This year I am going to give a try strobing the gym using three SB800's and the CLS system and see if I can get some results close to the major arenas where the photographers are hoked into strobes in the arena allowing f8 1/500s shots.
     
  3. eng45ine

    eng45ine

    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Well Mike summed it up just the way that I would have, school gyms are like caves plus if the wood floors are yellow, that compounds the problems. I also use an EXPOdisk which was an excellant purchase for setting WB. If you have some extra funds that you plan to use for camera gear, you may wish to consider a 85mm f/1.4 prime for basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and swimming all of which can be shot without a flash. I'm not sure if the f/1.8 is sufficient, but I do know that the f/1.4 is a very worthy option for gym shooting.
     
  4. twig

    twig

    745
    May 23, 2005
    Using a flash IMO is a sign that you are not a pro, and most often will get you yelled at by a coach,. player, or official who knows what they are doing. On camera strobes can bother players, and the last thing you want to do is influence your environment as a sports photographer. (That being said, they make for better pictures)

    I use a 50/1.4 under the basket and it is ok at f/2.2 assuming you can get a decent shutter speed. ISO should start at 800 and likely will be 1600 or more to get the shutter you want.

    WB is critical - I use the expodisc too, luv it.

    It is ironic that shooting the lowest levels of sport require the most expensive lenses (in a major arena for example ISO 800 1/500 at f/2.8 is possible with the lighting, whihle in your gym you will be at ISO 1600 1/200 and f/2.2 or worse).

    Tes out for the best "spots" for the arena lighting, sometimes the center court and center of the floor are much better than the corners, and that can influence where you try to capture action.


    Mike, I would love to hear your results using multiple flashes and CLS. Are you going to use clamps and mount the flashes on top of the back boards? I heard another good idea for gyms with multiple hoops, to lower a few of the extra hoops, mount the flashes there, then raidse them back up...

    I dunno i they are anywhere as powerful as real arena storbes, and you might be looking at ISO 400 f/5 but that would still be an awesome improvement

    [​IMG]
     
  5. RDM3

    RDM3

    168
    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    Thanks for the info. In the 5 years I have been shooting I have never been yelled at by any coach, player, etc, its only high school sports. Although using a flash may not be a "pro" thing to do, I have done it, and I have noticed many other full time paid photographers using a flash, they shoot for the Daily Times which is the big paper for your county, it is owned by Journal Register.

    I guess I could look into a 50mm lens for under the hoop, but this is only part time for me.
     
  6. twig

    twig

    745
    May 23, 2005
    Yes people use flash whenever possible because it is more important to them to get their shots than to worry about the athletes at this level.

    Likewise your local schools are probably so happy being covered that they don't mind a little rudeness onthe part of a photographer.

    If it is your hobby, then go ahead and use flash, you will get better pictures. If you are a working professional, I would say learn to live without because using it is not allowed at the top levels of sport and becoming reliant on it will not help you long term.

    When someone is using flash repeatedly in a dark gym it is pretty annoying to me as a spectator. This probably begins to enter the realm of 'twig's pet peeve' and therefore is not a criticism of you at all.

    When I see photographers using a flash at an event (the closest I do right now are some Nike and Reebok basketball events hosted at collge gymnasiums), I ask the event organizers to request that they desist. Personally I see flash users like those "naturalists" who go out into the woods to camp wit ha portable boom box, cigarettes and a beer cans. They enhance their experience of the event to the detriment of others.

    Next time you see someone using flash tell him that is he yells the athletes name while they are on the court he may get a better full face shot if he catches their attention.
     
  7. dbirdsong

    dbirdsong Guest

    I hate using flash when shooting sports, but I have shot hundreds of games over the years with one.
    I prefer to just use a high ISO, but that isn't always possible in some arenas or gyms.
    As for not being professional if you use flash, that is so far from the truth. Pro are more likely to use a flash than a amateur is.
    As for people complaining, 2 years ago I had the owner of a hockey team complain to the refs about me using flash. The ref came over to where I was shooting from and said that I was blinding the players with my flash, we the team I was with starting goalie was next to me and he looked at the ref and said Dave has taken 100's of me in goal this year, my mom has 20 of them on the wall at home. I have never noticed a flash all year. Ask any player out there if they are bothered by the flash.
    He ask 5 different players from both teams and none said they even noticed the flash. So he let me keep shooting with it.
     
  8. The last college game I shot was done a ISO800 w/o a flash and it was very difficut. Timing on the shots was critical to get the peak of action with the least amount of movement. I was surely wishing I had some flashes rigged up but was lucky just to be under the basket at the game. I did the best I could.
     
  9. eng45ine

    eng45ine

    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Let's face it, shooting in some of these school gyms is a nightmare. I am waiting to hear how Mike's strobing set-up works. For those of you who shoot basketball, which is a better choice of lens for shooting beneath the basket or toward the corner...a 50mm or 85mm? Obviously, the 85mm will facilitate closer shots, but is using a 50mm going to render too loose of an image.
     
  10. twig

    twig

    745
    May 23, 2005
    I use the 50 under the basket or when sitting on the baseline close to the perimeter of the paint. I think it is ideal for that, however I use a longer lens for other action on a second body. The 50 under the rim will get you shots of big men slamming, rebounding, maybe the guards driving the lane-
    but for jump shooters and people bringing the ball up court, you want longer focal length to get tighter.

    I found the 50/1.4 to have a much fast AF than the 85/1.4 (perhaps it was just a bad sample of the 85 I rented).

    When the light is too poor to use a 70-200 on the second body, I use only a 509/1.4 and am happy enough with the results. I think an 85 might be too tight and have too narrow a DOF at f/2 to use in such a manner.
     
  11. eng45ine

    eng45ine

    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for the info Twig...that's just the experience that I am hoping to tap into so I don't buy something that I may not be happy with.
     
  12. I'm going to try and shoot sports indoors and outdoors this year for my high school....
    I'm worried about ISO1600/2.8 with my 70-200 VR. I shot in the gym for another event at 1600/2.8 with my former 80-200 AFS and I had trouble stopping camera shake. With the VR and the monopod I ordered, I suppose I can do a lower shutter speed or ISO, but our gym lighting makes the Titanic wreck site seem like Florida :)
    I'm wondering about flash, my photo/video teacher said he shot a few things last year and used flash, and I hope to ask the athletic director and the refs about using CLS flashes....between 3 of us we have 2 SB800s and 1 SB600, and all of us have the D70...think 3 cameras, 3 strobes, all of us can use it :)
     
  13. twig

    twig

    745
    May 23, 2005
    you don;t want to use VR for basketball action, the extra half second it takes to lock will cause you to miss your shots.

    I use VR during free throw shootin,g I switch to a VERY low shutter (like 1/160) and catc hthem when they are shooting with VR engaged to prevent camera shake messing up the picture.
    But during game action, VR doesn;t work for me at all.

    Remember that the nikon flash has a 2-3 second recycle time and about 300 shots per charge. It also can handle bursts up to 6-10 in succession, but then you better give it a few seconds to rest. I think if you are not careful three people trying to tie into the same flash set-up is going to discharge and perhaps overheat your flash units pretty quick. Remember to shoot in single shot mode (or continuous low) at best.

    In a dark gym (ISO 1600 f/2.8 and shutter dipping below 1/320 or 1/250) I tend to jsut abandon my f/2.8 glass, and start shooting only wit hthe 50/1.4 at f/2 or f/2.2 under the basket. I would rather at that point have a few good shots than a bunch of crap.

    Another thing I would do is shoot the warm-up's and layup drills with your flash, then put it int he bag for the game. This way if your game photos are not what you want, you always have the safety net of a flashed dunk or lay-up of the player. After a while I just got used to using the 50/1.4 and do the lay-up drills with that at f/2.2 and no flash.

    If I shot high school professionally, I would say that the mandatory lens complement for non-strobed gyms (and situation where flash is not acceptable) would be 50/1.4 on one body (d2Hs please) and 200/f2 on the other, both lenses stopped down to f/2.2.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2005
  14. RDM3

    RDM3

    168
    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    I am shooting college volleyball tonight and I am going to try and not use a flash, the guy I am working for shoots in that gym at 2.8 ISO 1600, I will try the different white balance settings, but if the photos are coming out darker than I like how else can I get them brighter, normally I use a flash in a gym.
     
  15. eng45ine

    eng45ine

    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Setting a proper WB is critical when shooting in gyms because of the color of the wood floors...I've taken some images where the floor has made the image very orange. I use an EXPOdisk now on the advice of KenL and it was definately worth the $100. I hope that you will post a few images that you take tonight so we all can learn from your shooting experience.
     
  16. RDM3

    RDM3

    168
    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    What white balance would you use in general? I will flip through the preset ones first and see if one of those works.

    I took some shots the other day at Penn State Delco in the gym, the lighting there is really bad, and you get the orange wood floor, I worked with many settings, used the flash, changed the WB, I pushed the flash higher, lower, I tried alot and none of the photos were perfect, I believe I was at ISO 1600, I would normally be at 800.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2005
  17. RDM3

    RDM3

    168
    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    I ordered the expodisc today from B&H, I should have it by friday, I am hoping it help eliminate alot of the WB issues.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2005
  18. eng45ine

    eng45ine

    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I put the EXPOdisk on the lens, adjust the camera to manual focus, manual exposure, adjust the ISO to what I believe is appropriate to maintain adequate shutter speed, set the camera ISO to preset (refer to your owners manual for proper steps) and take a test shot directly at the predominant light source and wait for the control panel to tell me that the ISO setting is good, remove the disk and start shooting. Setting the exact ISO really made a difference with maintaining identical colors on the uniforms and skin tones.
     
  19. pcjr

    pcjr

    44
    Sep 19, 2005
    California
    Before I started using a flash for my daughter's High School indoor volleyball games, I spent a couple of games without a flash (2.8 VR on my D70 at ISO1600). After that, I asked the coaches if I could use a flash and they had no problem with it. I talked to the players and they said that they didn't notice my SB800 firing from the top of my camera.

    They are quite happy, so much so they have asked me to take photos of all their sports programs. Perhaps they have low standards :smile: I am most certainly not being rude.

    While it is just my hobby now, I am concerned about the long term of becoming too reliant on the flash. When I buy some new glass that is better suited, I will try again.

    Most of the High School gyms I have visited are dark from a photographer's perspective, but not from the spectator's or player's. For my daughter's home games, everyone is sitting on the same side of the gym so spectators and coaches never have the flash in their eyes.

    I would never think of bringing a flash to an event (indoors or outdoors) with professionals photographers at work. Ruining their shots with my flash wouldn't be a good way to make friends.
     
  20. RDM3

    RDM3

    168
    Aug 25, 2005
    Concordville, Pa
    Here are some shots I took inside a gym of volleyball using a D2H, shoooting at f2.8, 1600 ISO using my expodisk at I think 250th/1 sec

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    364c4b64.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 14, 2005
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