Sporting Chance

Page 5

There is one piece of advice that jumps out from this analysis. The subject movement is complex so be careful when analysing your output and seeking improvements. At first glance the cricket shot on the opening spread looks suspect. However a more careful look shows that the feet are pin sharp (you can see the individual stitches) but the shot gets progressively more blurred as the rotational movement increases up the batsman’s body. Hackett’s slash at the ball did not trouble the leather but sure did scare the life out of it! (Sigma 500mm f4.5; 1/800ths at full aperture. 400ISO Nikon D200)

The next demon for the photographer to lay to rest is depth of field. This is very small on telephoto lenses, especially at the wide apertures needed to get fast shutter speeds. As we have already seen, apertures of around f2.8 are needed to get optimum shutter speeds. Harking back to our hockey example, we see that the depth of field for a 300mm lens at f2.8 and a working distance of 20m is a little over half a metre. That is around the length of an outstretched leg and unless you get your focus on the knee of the player, the torso and foot stand little chance of being sharp. These compromises are ones that most sports photographers have to accept.

Peak of Action Shooting

One way of giving yourself a little more time (ie a slower shutter speed) is to shoot at the peak of the action. If you use a pole vaulter as an example, they will be moving horizontally very quickly on the run up and this speed is translated to vertical motion as they climb upwards. As the vaulter goes over the bar they tend to be moving very slowly in all directions, just the time to capture them sharply with a lower

shutter speed. You can gain two or three stops of leeway and still keep your image sharp with good timing. There are other peaks of action moments in other sports, for example
1. The tennis ball at the top of the service throw up.
2. The golfer at the top of their back swing.
3. The basketball player at the top of their leap towards the basket.

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Last Modified: Friday, 16 August 2013