Badminton Photography

Discussion in 'Sports' started by ricky_ng, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. First, yes I have googled badminton and have come across a previous thread that
    discussed lens choices. I was wondering if anybody had any advice for getting WB
    to work correctly inside a gym specifically. Selecting indoor/**** gives me good
    results, but only if I never change the direction I point my camera. Manual WB
    gives me sketchy results, awesome at one moment and horrible at the next.

    Aside from WB, I'm also seeking a bit of advice from the seasoned. I will be
    shooting courtside with a Pentax 50mm F/1.4. Where should I be looking? What
    positions produce favorable shots. Tips for getting those actions shots dead on
    would also be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Is there no edit button on here? Anyways, here are some photos from the last time I tried to shoot badminton. It was with my kit 18-55 lens.
  3. Ricky - what camera? Can you shoot RAW, then fix in post-processing? My guess would be that you can lower the colour temperature.

    The shots are quite good, to my eyes/ I would crop them and make them a bit 'colder'.

    Seems that 50mm is kinda short, if that is what you were using in those shots. If you have options with your camera, shoot then crop to highlight the action in the frame.

  4. Ricky, the photos you posted don't look bad at all. These are fairly tough photographic challenges!

    I have never shot badminton, indoors or outdoors, but I've spent hundreds of hours shooting indoor volleyball and basketball and volleyball seems to pose similar challenges. Here are a few suggestions.

    1. Shoot raw and put the camera on AWB (auto white balance) in the Fn menu. When I first moved to using a dslr to shoot indoor sports back in 2006, I tried shooting jpeg for a while and did everything I could think of to get the white balance right--including using an ExpoDisc--and nothing worked until I switch to raw + AWB.

    2. The Pentax 50 f/1.4 is maybe not the best lens for this challenge, but will work, provided you can get down close to the action. Looks like you can. I have the Pentax f/1.4 and also a Pentax 35 f/2, both excellent and fast lenses; but I generally shoot with a Sigma 18-50 f/2.8. The Sigma is slower by half a stop or a whole stop and that does hurt a bit, but being able to zoom is more important to me than keeping the ISO one stop lower. A Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 would be even better but I had to sell mine last year. If the action comes at you, it's good to be able to go wide, at least to 28mm; but if the action is on the far side of the court, 50mm is too short. Shoot raw, and crop.

    3. You must learn the game well enough that you begin to intuit where the action is going. In volleyball, the action - at least the action worth photographing--is almost always where the ball is, so I just follow the ball. Now, following the ball in the camera's finder can be tricky, and I imagine that following a little shuttlecock is even trickier. I have learned to shoot pretty effectively using a posture that allows me to look just OVER the camera. I have the camera on auto-focus and I hold it up to my face. I almost put my eye to the viewfinder, but in fact, I'm looking just over the camera, as if I were using the brackets on the flash shoe mount as a gun sight. I move my shoulders and arms and my whole torso with the camera. This allows me to use my peripheral vision to see what's happening with the ball and anticipate the shot more effectively. Although I've gotten tolerably good at this, it works better with a slightly wider angle, say, around 35mm rather than 50. Shooting at 50mm and assuming I'm close to the action, I will occasionally cut off a player's head by accident.

    4. Timing is everything. You just have to practice a lot, and consciously try different things until you develop a sense for when to press the shutter. Although your dslr has very little shutter lag, there is a sort of "human reaction time" lag. It takes a split second for you to think, "Hey, I should press the shutter!" and then to DO it. And in that split second, the shuttlecock will have hit the player's racket and be on its way back across the net. Decide what kind of shots you want. You almost surely DO NOT want the shuttlecock touching the racket. That looks weird. I still occasionally get a shot where it looks like the basketball is simply sitting on the court. So, do you want the cock before it hits the racket? That sounds good to me--that's when the player's expression will be most interesting. So you have to learn to press the shutter half a second BEFORE the moment just before the cock hits the racket.

    5. Re settings. You're doing great, I think. Those college gyms are brighter than the elementary school gyms that I shoot in, and I'm impressed at how clean the K100D Super's ISO 1600 shots are. 1/180th sec is a good shutter speed for this kind of action, I think: I use it a lot myself. But you could probably open up your aperture half a stop more and drop the ISO to 1100 or even try 800 and see if you don't get even cleaner images.

    6. Finally, DO NOT HAVE FUN. I'm not kidding. If you want to shoot sports and you want to get that great shot now and then, you have to be all business and don't get wrapped up in the action. Well, perhaps the masters can get emotional, but I can't. I've missed more than one potentially terrific photo because I momentarily got carried away by the excitement, stopped being a photographer and for a split second turned into a spectator.

    Just my two cents. You're doing really well on your own and should feel free to ignore anything I say that doesn't make sense to you right away.

  5. In badminton, the players look up most of the time, it would be better if you get a high vantage point and shoot down so you can get their eyes. The best thing is if you can shoot from the umpire chair (assuming the umpire is not using it) or bring your ladder. Another place may be from the balcony like the ones shown in your samples, but you'll need a long lens to get close. Your sample shots have too many distracting background and people, for a 50mm lens, you really have to get very close. Another alternative is use a wide angle (28mm) and try to shoot from lying on the floor, close to the net pole looking up, try to catch the moment when the player are diving for the drop shots. Use the net to help frame part of your picture. If it is too distracting for the players, ask their permission to do it during the warm ups.
  6. You have some nice photos Ricky , but Michael's advice is very good. Get a longer lens , as fast as you can afford. A nice 2.8 tele zoom , or a fixed length lens around a 180mm would be great. Shoot from that railing you can see in your photos or somewhere high up. This will clean up your backgrounds.
  7. The lights in a gym are usually fluorescent, and cycle at 60Hz, so you will ALWAYS get a shift in color temperature from shot to shot. With that said, the best way I have found is to shoot a gray card at 1/60 -- which will give you a complete cycle of the lights -- to give you a good AVERAGE white balance. Most of your shots should end up being good, and a few will be off, but that is just the beast you have to deal with.

    AWB is not the solution.

    Indoors, you want to set your exposure manually and forget about using Av or Tv. Get a fast lens (85 f/1.8 or 125 f/2.0) open her up and play with the ISO until you can get to 1/500 or faster.

    Good luck.
  8. Your shots seem to be at 1600 ISO with shutter priority set to 1/180th, which has resulted in apertures around f/4-f/4.5. Moreover, you weren't using the 55 end of the zoom (probably because it would have cost another stop in aperture, giving underexposed images).

    Try working with the 50mm set to f/2. That will help to blur distracting backgrounds and allow a shutter speed of ~1/750th, or dropping the ISO to 800 and using a shutter speed of ~1/350th. In general, it's best to use an exposure setting in M mode. Your Pentax K100D Super does well in these conditions - it's nice to see a not Canikon producing the goods.

    Try using a custom white balance: shoot a sheet of white paper placed on the gym floor so it fills a good part of the frame for the WB shot (it doesn't have to be in focus even), without shading it with your body. Use Tv mode and 1/60th for the WB shot to get the average lighting over any mains related cycling.

    Use a hood, especially if you are shooting from a low angle.

    As to longer lenses: since you were shooting at 20-33mm, 50 will allow you to get somewhat tighter or shoot from further away. Long fast glass is usually expensive, though it might be interesting to try an older MF lens if you are shooting from a fair distance, where it will be quite feasible to focus manually on a section of the court.
  9. As for white balance, note all the white lines on the court, or the white shirts, those are your gray cards. If you don't want to blow out the white shirt so you can see their texture, just make sure the RGB value maintains the same equal value. For example, white shirt RGB value may read 240,240,250, in that case, lower your Blue channel so you get close to a 240, 240, 240 value.
  10. Thanks for all the great responses. My thinking is using a 50mm f/1.4 is that prime lenses usually offer a faster focus (is this correct)? and that I was severely restricted with the kit lens (which is what I used for the pictures I posted. I couldn't zoom more then 35mm without underexposure.

    As for the manual exposure. Can I just use a piece of printer paper or should I go out and get the cards?

    Michael: No umpire chairs, but I will try shooting from the balcony next time. Also going to try sitting at the net pole at around 28mm.

    For focusing, manual or automatic. My Pentex unfortunately does not have the open to continuous focus. Last time, since I was at an f/4 at most, focus wasn't as much of an issue, but at f/1.4-2 which would be better?

    Again thanks for all your advice =)
  11. >> Can I just use a piece of printer paper or should I go out and get the cards?

    You are better off getting a GRAY card. The camera wants to expose for neutral gray, not white.
  12. Gray may help with providing an exposure metering reference (actually, so will white, so long as you work out the offset that will give you a good histogram). Some grey cards are only designed to provide a mid tone for exposure metering, and may have a colour cast that will result in an incorrect white balance. I believe that applies to the standard Kodak grey card, for example. "White" objects may also have a cast - often "white" paper is slightly cream, which being slightly warm, when used for WB correction may result in slightly cool images. Scientifically "correct" white balance may not be aesthetically pleasing, however: humans tend to prefer very slightly warm images where the shots are of other humans.

    This thread makes a very interesting read on WB issues:
  13. Thanks guys. We had our match today and I'm fairly content with the photos I took.

    Have to say that the biggest issue was the flickering lighting.

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