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Still Photography - Gear, Settings, Tips & Tricks

Feb 7, 2016
43
8
Wanted to start a thread to discuss any tips, tricks, types of gear that you use to shoot softball games. I'd like to keep this to still photography.

Gear:
I shoot Canon, 7D Mk II, primarily with a 70-200 2.8 IS Mk II lens.

Settings:
During the day with lots of light, I shoot in AV mode at F4.0, Shutter Speed is usually in 1/1000+ (whatever is needed to get a balanced exposure). I find that shooting at F4.0 helps me get more shots in focus.

At night and under the lights, Manual Mode, F2.8 and I bump ISO as far as I need to to get at least a shutter speed of 1/250. The 7D MkII does fairly well with higher ISO (3200). I figure I'd rather get the shot and worry about sharpness/noise later.

Still trying to figure out the best settings for focus so I can get more shots in focus. I use the back button focus method to help control what I want in focus.

Struggles/Questions:
My biggest struggles......watching a great play instead of taking pictures of it! :) I'd also like to take different types of shots instead of the standard batter in the box, pitcher on the mound...etc. I also struggle to get good shots of the outfielders in action.

Link to pictures I took from one of our last couple of games:
https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/38aUWrx1a1cqbEcxN1TcVPtTspSxonqXP08eEkm4pe2

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/q9sD40yiAgsordNKR0cko9DHTWgc1TfqU6ZYWgX780M

*****TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY THESE LINKS DO NOT WORK******


Looking forward to what other aspiring sports photographers have to say about their experience!
 
Last edited:
Feb 15, 2016
265
18
Struggles/Questions:
My biggest struggles......watching a great play instead of taking pictures of it! :) I'd also like to take different types of shots instead of the standard batter in the box, pitcher on the mound...etc. I also struggle to get good shots of the outfielders in action.

Link to pictures I took from one of our last couple of games:
https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/38aUWrx1a1cqbEcxN1TcVPtTspSxonqXP08eEkm4pe2

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/q9sD40yiAgsordNKR0cko9DHTWgc1TfqU6ZYWgX780M

*****TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY THESE LINKS DO NOT WORK******


Looking forward to what other aspiring sports photographers have to say about their experience!
Odd but I could get to your photos on my phone but not my computer. It must be a security setting. Nice pics. To be honest with you I used to take a ton of photos and I mostly used the "sports" setting on my Nikon during the day and then played with it a lot at night under the lights. I could never get really good crisp action shots under the lights and I think it was my lens. I used a 15-200 on my Nikon so I could go wide all the way to 200. I used to put together videos at the end of the season. What I noticed is that to get a specific player on defense, I had to stay on them for a few innings. I got some amazing outfield pics of diving grabs and other good catches, but I found that I had to stay focused on the outfield and be ready when those plays happened because they were few and far between.
 
Apr 16, 2013
874
43
I wish I could add a lot to this thread, but my wife is the sports photog. She's gotten some dang amazing pics though. I know she uses a Sony camera with a Tamron F2.8 200mm lens. The gear is absolutely the first thing. Upgrading to that lens made a YUUUUUUGE difference. Upgrading the camera body made a difference too, but dang did the lens send the pics from 6 territory to 11! I know with her, she brings a step ladder and gets over the fence. Then she just follows the plays. Lots of times she misses, but if you take pics for 4 games, you end up catching some great shots.
 
Apr 28, 2016
72
8
I shoot with a Canon 80D, and had been using a Tamron 70-300 f4.0-5.4 until recently. This setup worked well during the day and the 300 on the crop sensor camera gives me great reach for the outfield. I bought the new Sigma 70-200 f2.8 sport lens recently. I’m having trouble nailing focus, but I haven’t had time yet to use the Sigma dock to dial it in. (I use the Sigma 50-100 f1.8 for basketball, and the Sigma dock is a game changer.)

I also use back-button focus and shoot in AV mode. My 80D is optimized for sports do does well with frames per second, but being a crop sensor, It doesn’t handle high ISO that well, but I’ve found that parents don’t notice or care about a little grain.

I struggle too with not taking the same old shots over and over again, and I too tend to get involved in watching the play and forget to press the shutter button sometimes.

I can’t get your pictures to load but would love to see them. (PM me if you want to figure out a way to share/collaborate on some ideas. I’m totally just a mom with a camera, but I love taking action shots.)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Oct 2, 2011
3,322
113
Florida
The secret with good cameras and lenses is understanding how the autofocus systems work best for action shots. I'm a Nikon guy so can't help you on the Canon side, but I know once I spent a great deal of time playing with zones, methods, settings, etc I started getting better and better shots.

You can also shoot Shutter priority a lot. I want to shoot at 1/1000 or faster. Small F-stops as well - I like 4.0 but 2.8 the later it gets works as well.

The other thing is learning to shoot without using the viewfinder and investing in a good monopod (the ones with the foldable legs for more stability like the Manfrotto 500 series - I have a 560B-1). You can set the shot up for the pitcher/batter or area (second base for a potential steal is a great spot as well) and then you can watch the action live and just push the shutter button when ready. Helps with the getting caught up in the action but also allows you to see the whole pitcher/catcher action to time it better and you can also judge good pitch/bad pitch which means less shots to delete on no swings/balls.

At some fields it is getting above the fences - so step stool or even some ball-buckets are useful :)

And getting RIGHT up on the fence to remove the fence is always advisable.



EDIT: The other thing is to not try to get EVERY SHOT. You are not filming the game so there doesn't have to be a narrative. Once you have shots of everyone - set up and concentrate on getting one thing that you anticipate will happen - like a play at first, a steal, or contact point on a swing and if that happens, you will be set for a great shot. Not saying don't move the camera to try to get that diving catch or great fielding play, just be set up for something specific
 
Last edited:
Feb 7, 2016
43
8
Great points, Marriard! I have to find my monopod...it's somewhere in the garage. That's what happens when I try to organize things.....I can't find where I put it! I used your advice yesterday about not trying to get every shot. Got a great shot of the second baseman making the tag during an attempted steal.
 
Jun 13, 2012
55
8
Im a Nikon guy too (D7000+f2.8 70-200), so, cant help with Canon specific stuff. Youve got good gear. Agree with Marriad about the monopod, but, I find I only really use it for night/low light games.

If its bright enough, I tend to shoot more around f8 and keep my speed faster than 1/1000s while keeping my ISO as low as I can.

What i struggle with on occasion, is, my camera just *loves* chain link fence. It can be very frustrating to get a series of shots to find yep, the backstop is in perfect focus. LOL.

I also tend to anticipate plays as much as possible, which means occasionally, I shoot plays that dont happen. LOL. But, I miss fewer of the expected ones that way.

My only observation on your shots, get lightroom & start cropping. The workflow doesnt take that long & youre probably already doing a bit of already with scrubbing the non keepers. I find I can make a go/no-go, crop & rate a batch of 400-500 in so in 1.5-2 hours.
 
Apr 28, 2016
72
8
Here are some of the ones I've taken. I tried to include a variety of shots (and you will see some that aren't technically correct). (I do straighten horizons usually, but some of these are from last year, so I may not have done them all.)

Stylistically, I tend to try to shoot the action tight, but that's just a preference of mine. Almost all of these were shot with the Tamron lens, but there are a few that were shot with the Sigma.

I did include a couple of baseball shots because the setup at that field is a little better, and I can shoot over the fence from the top of the bleachers. At the softball fields, I'm almost always trying to shoot through the fence with varying degrees of success.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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