Tag: Settings

Night Sports Photography Tips

Being a sports photographer requires some patience and practice, no matter what time of day or lighting conditions you’re dealing with. But, photographing sports at night demands even more. If you’re interested in shooting sports like baseball and football, it’s likely that you’ll have to capture images under the lights, after the sun goes down. While this can be challenging, there are some tricks to ensure you get awesome action shots, even your first time out.

There are several reasons nighttime sports photography is so difficult. You’re dealing with limited lighting conditions and a subject that is usually quite far away, moving at a fairly fast pace. As with most other types of photography, the key to mastering sports photography at night is to experiment as much as possible.

However, there are some things you can do to guarantee a better result. These tips will help you prepare for the challenge of night sports photography. We’ll talk more about the kinds of settings and techniques you can use to approach it.

football night game photo

Use the Right Equipment

Shooting a fast-moving subject in low light will be especially difficult with an entry level camera, particularly if you’re hoping for a high-quality result. You’ll want a camera with a digital sensor capable of shooting usable images with an ISO of at least 1600.

A kit lens also won’t yield the results you’re looking for. For this kind of photography, you’ll want a fast lens. This means a lens with a wider aperture – a smaller f-number, like 1.8 or 1.4 – that will let in more light with each exposure. You’ll be able to use faster shutter speeds at a lower ISO, which will give you much cleaner images. If you have one, use a lens with an aperture of at least f/2.8.

soccer night game photo

Artificial lighting can create all kinds of color temperature issues. Before you start shooting, you should take the time to read up on setting your camera’s manual white balance. Set the white balance so that your camera knows what white should look like. This will save you time correcting white balance in post after the game is over.

Use the Right Techniques

Besides knowing how to use the light, there are some things you can do to get great action shots.

1. Stay Low

Find a good angle and stay as close to the ground as you can, either sitting on kneeling on the sidelines or at the end zone. This offers a better perspective on the action. It also lets you fill more of the frame with the action happening on the field. Your resulting images will be a lot more dynamic than if you had been shooting upright. Plus, it’s a lot more comfortable than standing for several hours while you photograph the game.

low perspective sports photography

2. Learn to Predict the Action

If you don’t understand how the sport is played, you’ll have a much more difficult time capturing interesting shots of the action. You want to figure out which direction your team or players will be moving, and what their ultimate goals are so that you will be ready with your camera when the action happens.

action sports photography

Get to know the players and the way they play to have a better idea of where the ball will go. Keep your eye on the ones who score the most goals or get the most penalties. The best thing about shooting digital is that you can take as many photos as your storage card will allow. So, if you keep at it, you’ll end up with at least one great action shot.

3. Enjoy the Atmosphere

Things like parents watching their kids on the field, cheerleaders or excited fans celebrating on the sidelines, and coaches and trainers calling out plays are an interesting part of the game. These moments can make for some great, unique sports pictures. Don’t be afraid to look around the crowd and see what else you can shoot.

stadium fans photo

Also, try to keep from looking through the images on your LCD screen. Not only does this risk you getting hurt if you’re not paying attention, you might miss out on the perfect shot. Use the LCD to ensure you’ve got the exposure and white balance set correctly, and then leave it alone while you shoot.

Add Finishing Touches in Post-Production

Whenever you can shoot in RAW to capture as much detail as possible. This will allow you to correct things like exposure, contrast, and color without losing image quality. Note that using the sliders will likely increase noise in your images, though, so be careful that you don’t over-do it.

You’ll probably have tons of images to go through, so choose the best ones to spend time on in post-production. Most of them will probably need a crop to focus in on the action and create a pleasing composition, but try to maintain the original aspect ratio to make printing easier in the future.

Night Photography Essentials: Part Two – How To Shoot?

Previously, in the first part of this article, we discussed the phases of the night and how to make sure you are photographing in the right time of the night. In this part, we will make sure that you are technically prepared to shoot in during nighttime.

Besides keeping a tab on the phases of night, it is equally important to know how to operate your camera in these situations, the pieces of gear that are necessary for these conditions, and some techniques that will come handy for better shots in general.

Equipment

DSLR

. Of course, you’ll need your camera. A DSLR camera is recommended (or a mirrorless one of equal grade) but any camera offering manual settings and decent lens and sensor would do. Having manual controls, good lens and sensor (by good I mean at least as good as an entry level DSLR with at least a kit lens), is quite important to nighttime photography due to the lack of light.

Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.

Tripod

Since you won’t have enough light for handheld shots 90% of the time, a tripod is something that is considered a must. Bear in mind that while a tripod will remove the shake induced by you, if the subject moves, there is nothing the tripod can do about it.

Remote Shutter Release

Since you’ll be shooting longer exposures most of the time, you’ll need a way to trigger the camera without touching it. This is due to the fact that no matter how sturdy the tripod is, it won’t remove the shake induced by you pressing the button. If you can’t get your hands on a remote shutter release, you can use the self-timer for the same purpose. Depending on the stability of the tripod you’ll need to decide between the two second or ten-second timer on the camera.

Spare Battery

Since you’ll be doing longer exposures, which eat up bigger chunks of your battery life, you can find yourself running out of power faster when compared to regular shooting. Therefore, have a spare battery or two with you at any time. And have them charged, of course.

batteries
Photo by Rob Nunn, on Flickr.

Flashlight

Since you will be shooting in the dark, after all, it would be good if you could see where you are going, or make sense of the camera controls and buttons faster (if you don’t know them by muscle memory). It doesn’t have to be a dedicated flashlight, more often than not the flash on your smartphone will do the job.

Camera Control

Manual Settings

. This is quite crucial since the metering usually aren’t as accurate in low light as they are in the normal light. Therefore you’ll need to control every aspect of the camera yourself. This is also to your advantage since different settings will produce different results for the same exposure.

Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.

ISO

You should have the ISO at the lowest value possible. Especially if you are shooting landscape/cityscape shots, where you can have longer exposures without any issues. In this case set the ISO to the base value which is usually 100, with some older cameras it is rumored to be 200, but you can test this easily by taking two shots at 100 and 200, and compare the noise levels.

Aperture

If you want the light sources in your pictures to have light streaks (looking like stars and such) you should close down the aperture. The more aperture blades the lens has, the more streaks the light sources will have. This phenomenon usually appears after f5.6, or even more with some lenses. However, since you’ll be shooting on a tripod, stop down the lens a stop or two, to avoid the vignetting and softness from a wide open aperture. Somewhere in the range of f/5.6 to f/11 the lens should be the sharpest (also called the sweet spot), but you should test this out for every lens.

Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.

Shutter Speed

Having a fast shutter speed in low light is basically science fiction, except if you push the ISO to ridiculous levels, but then the images will look rubbish. If you need to photograph people in low light, you’ll need a flash or another solution to illuminate the people enough so they won’t be dark or blurry. Otherwise, don’t be scared to use long exposures. Even if bulb mode is necessary for exposures longer than 30 seconds.

Tripod

Instead of just having one, you should also be able to use the tripod accordingly. If it is not necessary, don’t raise the center column of the tripod upwards – it is better to fully extend the legs first, and afterward, if necessary, the center column. It shifts the center of gravity and it becomes less stable when the camera is hanging higher than the meeting point of the legs. Additionally, the last parts of the legs, the thinnest ones, should be used only if it is a make or break moment. They are thin, thus they will shake more. That is why more advanced tripods either have two poles per leg or are quite thick even at the thinnest points.

DSK_6089
Photo by Doo Ho Kim, on Flickr.

Remote Shutter/Timer/Mirror Lockup

In order to get the sharpest image possible, you need to minimize camera shake. As mentioned before, you can use Remote Shutter release or the built-in self-timer. As an additional measure (especially on full frame cameras) you can use mirror lockup mode. This basically lifts the mirror up before taking the shot, leaving time for the camera to stabilize from the vibrations. It also works with shooting in live view, since the mirror is already up.

Image Stabilization

If your lens or camera has image stabilization, and it is set on a tripod, it is wise to turn it off. The tripod is stable, and having the lens elements magnetized into a float position can induce motion where there isn’t any. Especially for Nikon users, since Nikkor recommends this in some of their lenses.

Summary

Now that you know what you need and how to control the camera in situations like these, you can get properly started in photographing at night. I am going to say it again: don’t fear the night, if you know what you are doing, and if you are doing it correctly, you’ll be able to take great shots after the sun sets.

In the third and final part of this article we will discuss how to handle specific scenarios using the information you’ve read so far.

Customising cells in Lightroom’s Library module

Did you know that the cells in Library module (thumbnails of your folder/collection) could be customized to suit your different needs? 

Well, yes. You can. You can  customize not only how much info is visible, but in some cases, exactly which type of info is displayed.

This is mostly for all those users who like to maintain an organized work-space.

First off, let me tell you about the basic features and what they’re called.

The Content window is where Lightroom displays thumbnails. Each thumbnail, plus the grey border around it, is called a cell. There are two types of displays: Compact cells and Expanded cells. The difference between the two is that you can view more information in the Expanded cells view. But that’s up to your likes and dislikes. Some people like it when all the information is displayed around the image while some others don’t like the distraction of too many icons and symbols surrounding their work-space. 

If you’re not in Grid view, just press the ‘G’ key. It’s a keyboard shortcut that will take you to the Grid view from any part of Lightroom. The Grid View displays thumbnails of photos contained in the currently selected Folders, Collections or search results.

A screenshot of Library module in grid mode
A screenshot of Library module in grid mode
  1. Visually shows the changes that the user has made to the photograph. for instance the first symbol shows that the photograph contain keywords. The second symbol shows that the particular photograph is part of atleast one collection. The third symbol [ +/- ] indicates that the photograph’s exposure has been adjusted since it’s import.
  1. Shows us that the metadata changes which were applied during import has not been written on to the file. Kindly note that if the picture is in RAW format, the metadata will be written on to the respective .xmp files. If the picture is in TIFF/DNG/Jpeg format, the metadata will be written to the file itself.
  1. Shows us the Image name (which is the filename) and the collection to which the image belongs. Notice the “18” in the background? That indicates that image is the eighteenth in the sequence in the currently selected folders or Collections .
  1. Shows us the file name as stored in the system.
  2. Shows us the flip over symbol which means that file is a virtual copy, not the original one.

Tip: If you hover the mouse over an icon and keep it still, Lightroom will display a label telling you what the icon means. It appears after about two seconds.

Closer screenshot of the Expanded cells.
Closer screenshot of the Expanded cells.

The first cell is the most selected cell and the next 4 cells are selected cells (1), the bottom 5 cells are not selected (2). This feature especially helps while duplicating instructions from one image to another.

Closer view of the expanded cells.
Closer view of the expanded cells.

Let’s look at no.3 –

The top left no:  Denotes the file index no,

The bottom left no: States the dimensions of the file in pixels.

The top right detail: Name of the file/image

The bottom right no: Focal length of the lens used. This all can be customized based on what you want to see.

 

Screenshot of customising cell details.
Screenshot of customizing cell details.

Lightroom lets you customise the layout of the cells so the display shows as much or as little as you wish. To customise the details around the cell press “Command + J” or “Ctrl + J” and the above window will open, where you can customise as per your requirements.

  1. Show Grid Extras.
    This is where you make a choice between Compact Cells and Expanded Cells. Unticking the “Show Grid Extras” box simplifies your cell display. Doing so removes the information displayed around the thumbnails in Grid View.
  1. Show clickable items on mouseover only.
    If you untick this box every thumbnail is displayed with arrows in the bottom corners that you click to rotate the image. And if the image is unflagged, a grey flag icon appears. With this box ticked, these icons are only displayed when you move the mouse over the particular image/cell.
  1. Tint grid cells with label colors.
    If you don’t like the colour labels, or you just don’t use them, untick this box to turn them off. Or if you prefer them to be subtle and in lighter shades, the menu on the right lets you adjust the intensity of the colour tint.
  1. The rest of the View Options let you customise what icons and information are displayed alongside the thumbnails. Lightroom lets you pick specific details that you want on the display and you can choose from an array of option by clicking on the drop-down arrow next to the buttons.

 

Screenshot of customising cell details in Loupe View.
Screenshot of customizing cell details in Loupe View.

 

The first information overlay displays the filename, the time and date the photo was taken, and the image size (in pixels).
The first information overlay displays the filename, the time and date the photo was taken, and the image size (in pixels).

 

The second overlay shows the filename, the exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and the focal length and lens used. This is handy for checking the camera settings when you are viewing your images.
The second overlay shows the filename, the exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) and the focal length and lens used. This is handy for checking the camera settings when you are viewing your images.

I hope this article was helpful. Leave a note in the comments if you have anything to share.