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Thread: Photographing Head On Race

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    Member MadMax1412's Avatar
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    Photographing Head On Race

    Hi Guys,

    My 7 year old daughter is in a 100m race at her school's athletics carnival soon. I want to stand at the end of her lane and photograph her as she runs towards me. My preference would be to have most of the background blurred but I guess this would be a given as the nearest things behind her will be closest at the start of the race and progressively be further away and thus more out of DOF.

    My equipment is a Nikon D90 with a choice of the following 3 zoom lens:

    • Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm 1:3.5-5.6G ED VR (part of twin lens kit purchase)
    • Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm 1:4.5-5.6G ED VR (part of twin lens kit purchase)
    • Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 DI II. 62mm diameter


    What lens would you use and what setting? Should I leave it on Auto or should I choose an aperture setting or a shutter speed? On Auto, I have the ISO set to a maximum of 400. If I was to set the controls to either aperture or shutter priority, should I set the ISO to say 200 with a maximum of 400 to ensure I have no noise? If I use shutter priority, I gather 320 should be fast enough as my daughter is running towards me rather than across my field of view and needing to track her.

    My shooting method will be to set it to "Continuous High".

    I have selected "AF-area Mode" and set it to "Dynamic Area" and set the Autofocus mode (via the top screen) to AF-C.

    What would you guys do, remembering you only have one shot at it as they aren't going to re-run the race just because the photos were blurry, or under/over exposed etc.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    MadMax. For a "Beginnner" you are rather well up on the workings of your gear and on the possible range of photographic options.
    I am not sure of what some of your camera-specific focus options mean, but does any one of them mean "predictive focus"?

    Now, as far as you lens choice goes, how about a bit of trigonometry . Don't worry, stick to the simpler stuff - equal triangles.
    Do you have some idea of your and your daughter's placements for the picture(s)?
    Which of your lenses is the most responsive for AF - if any one is?

    Here's the trig:

    Height of daughter over distance to daughter = image size over focal length.

    Figure out (roughly) where she [will/you want her to] be and go from there. (Wondering: does AF-C mean "Continuous"?)

    On ISO: that might be affected by the weather and its ambient lighting effect. I'd say be prepared to use even higher than ISO400.
    I cannot imagine excessive noise even at that setting. Any little such that may result could even add to the final picture.

    I hope you like my Qs in answer to your Qs. It sounds like an interesting experiment
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Do you have some idea of your and your daughter's placements for the picture(s)?
    Which of your lenses is the most responsive for AF - if any one is?

    Here's the trig:

    Height of daughter over distance to daughter = image size over focal length.

    Figure out (roughly) where she [will/you want her to] be and go from there. (Wondering: does AF-C mean "Continuous"?)
    I will be standing at the end of her lane, probably about 10 metres past the finish line so at the beginning, she'll be about 110 metres away and this distance will rapidly (I hope ) reduce as she runs towards me.

    My plan was to hold down the shutter and let it take continuous photos as I gradually reduce the zoom during the race. I'm thinking of using the Tamron lens as the 270mm end will give me the best shot of her at the start, and the 18mm will allow her to get rather close to me (ie within the 10m gap at the finish) without filling the frame too much.

    I'm just stuck on whether to use "Sport" mode or go with an Aperture priority mode.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    See what each of Sport and AP mode allow you to do, then judge which would be better for you. I don't know either one at this stage for your cam.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh, and try a dry run with some suitable subject beforehand.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Agree with Am about doing a dry run.. it could be anything that moves. car, bike riders, people at the local park out jogging etc. The more you practice the better you get.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    I like my computer more than my camera farmmax's Avatar
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    I'm very much for the practise run as well. Can you try taking photos when she is training?

    About the ISO. If you had the choice between a blurry photo because you couldn't get your shutter speed high enough, or a sharp photo with some noise in it, which choice would you take?

    If this is a not an event that will be repeated very often, you want to get it right. If you feel it is safer to use the semi auto settings than manual ones you are not totally familiar with, there is no shame in using the semi auto settings this time. If there are going to be many more races, (we hope there are ), then the photo won't be so critical, so you can take the chance of experimenting.

    Good luck to your daughter

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    I havn`t shot athletics but have done a bit of soccer,my recommendations would be and you will need to try these before hand,and listen to more experienced people here.

    ISO You know the limit you will accept, you might need it if it is overcast.

    Shutter speed 1/300+ depending on ISO and aperture and if you are hand holding.(the general rule is SS the same as focal length but I have used a lot lower) practice

    Apterture Apteture Priority

    Metering spot is what I use the most, centre weighted if the subject fill the frame.

    Continuous low would be the way to go,if you shoot high you could have 90 shots (20 seconds to run the distance x 4.5) guess at time to run race.

    You will need to try these setting an adjust on the day, also if you use raw it stops after 11 shots but the buffer is not full it will start again by releasing the shutter button and take 11 more shots.
    (this is from DPReview.) hope you have time to practice.

    Jack
    Last edited by pixy; 18-03-2015 at 3:38am.
    Pentax K5iis, k7 plus lenses from 18mm-600mm.

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    Member JJM's Avatar
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    I agree with the others and say Apteture Priority would be the best bet. But I would suggest you need to up the speed a bit though to 500-600, while your daughter might not be moving that fast in your direction her arm/leg movement will be rather high.

    Depending on the cloud cover on the day you might need to lift the ISO to 800 max.

    I'd also be hesitant in just holding the shutter button down as she comes towards you, I'm not sure about your camera specifically but once you hit your max burst rate your camera might pause for a few seconds (i.e. half the race) to save them to the memory card before being able to shoot again....I might be wrong but I suggest you test it.
    Last edited by JJM; 18-03-2015 at 8:10am.

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    Here's another tip for you. You say you'll be standing at the end of her lane. I'd suggest you should be kneeling at the end of her lane. Shots taken from a lower perspective will look much better. As JJM says, check your buffer if you plan on using the spray and pray method. If you want to get a bit fancy, try the back button focus (BBF). Choose the centre focus point and aim it at her chest. Set your aperture to wide open and set your ISO so that you get a shutter speed around 1/800th. Unless you can fill the frame with her start, I wouldn't waste my time when she was too small in the frame. That would mean waiting till she was closer to you before you started exposing the pixels. Remember, you want the shot of her breaking the tape if she is fast enough. Don't fill your buffer before she does.

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    Member JJM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    spray and pray method.
    I haven't heard that one before, made my day!!!


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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    The more secular types ease off on the last bit

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    I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think the auto focus will continue to operate as long as you're holding the stutter btton down on Continuous. Someone will know.
    Cheers

    You don't have to be dead to be a donor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granville View Post
    I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think the auto focus will continue to operate as long as you're holding the stutter btton down on Continuous. Someone will know.
    Not sure about Nikon's AF-C setting, but Canon's AI-Servo will continue to track with the button held down. The lesser systems will drift off focus more easily though and some frames will be OOF. I'm pretty sure this photographer probably held the button down right through this sequence.

    http://markjrebilas.com/blog/?p=21971#more-21971

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    Not sure about Nikon's AF-C setting, but Canon's AI-Servo will continue to track with the button held down. The lesser systems will drift off focus more easily though and some frames will be OOF. I'm pretty sure this photographer probably held the button down right through this sequence.

    http://markjrebilas.com/blog/?p=21971#more-21971
    That's one hell of a sequence, particularly when you see the attached video of the incident and how fast it unfolded, but yes proves that the AF will continue to track as long as you hold down the button.

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    He would have also been shooting with both eyes open because he would see nothing through the viewfinder once he pressed the shutter release. Well, very little at 12fps.
    Last edited by Warbler; 18-03-2015 at 5:59pm.

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    Not sure if you will have the same conditions as this photo,it was,

    ISO 1600

    SS 1/640

    f5.6

    200mm

    This will be similar to your tamron at 270 (maybe it is 6.3?) if your at 6.3 that will reduce your shutter speed.

    There is not much motion blur from top sportsmen playing, your Daughter will not be moving as fast as this,and a bit of MB adds to photos.



    This is not a particularly good shot but is about the same settings you will need in dull conditions,if it is bright reduce your ISO your shutter speed will look after its self,
    you can try 1/600 like what is suggested but practice it before the event in SS300-400 range on your daughter running,if very strong light you might get 1/800 or more.

    jack.
    Last edited by pixy; 18-03-2015 at 9:17pm.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Just want to distill some great advice from Warbler.
    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    ..... If you want to get a bit fancy, try the back button focus (BBF). Choose the centre focus point and aim it at her chest. ......
    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    Not sure about Nikon's AF-C setting, but Canon's AI-Servo will continue to track with the button held down.
    Don't worry about the fancy bit, learn about the BBF and AI-Servo for Nikon.
    You may need shutter speed (and therefore ISO, depending on the light) a bit higher than what you thought. Even front on, runners have sideways movement.
    If this is a regular event, try standing to the side and panning as she runs by.
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
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    Guys,

    Thanks for your advice. I ended up leaving it at auto and changing the focus to AF-A (I thought I had changed it to AF-C, but AF-A worked ok in most cases but seemed to lose it occassionally eg Long jump).

    This was her first school athletics carnival where the times achieved might see you go to compete at Zone level. In Kindergarten and Year 1, it was "just for fun". A lot of the events she had never had exposure to, such as discus and shot put.

    If you are curious as to her performance....

    In her first race, the 100m, a spectators child ran out and tripped her, but she got up and continued and still came first. It was then I found out about it being timed properly, so they made her run it again in the 4th batch of 8 year old (she's only 7 but turns 8 in November). She came first in that race too, but her overall rank was 2nd.

    In the 200m, she came 1st.

    In discus she came 4th.

    In long jump, she came 1st.

    She was then selected to represent her house in the junior girls (made up of the 4th fastest from 8, 9 and 10 year olds). She got a upset when selected as she was worried she'd let the others down and lose as she didn't know what a relay was. I gave her a quick run down on how the previous runner approaches and you start running slowly until you have the baton and then run and she gave it a try. She was the 4th runner and her team came 3rd.


    Here's some shots.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Max.

    Put the shots into a new thread either in this New to Photography forum, or in the
    Sport and Action forum

    Am.

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    ..... oops
    Last edited by MadMax1412; 26-03-2015 at 1:35pm.

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