High School Football Night Pictures

Discussion in 'Sports' started by susana_avila, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. I volunteered to shoot pictures of the freshman teams this season. I'm struggling with the stadium lighting. I have a Canon Rebel T3 and I'm using an EF75-300 f/4-5.6. I cannot afford to buy another lens right now so I need to play around with what I have and make it work. If I set the camera to TV, F/5.6 @1/3200 ISO1600, do you think that will do the trick so the pictures are not so blurry? I'm taking the pictures from the sidelines.
  2. If you have a high enough ISO that should help compensate for the lens but your aperture will fluctuate based on your focal length. When shooting I always use a monopod this will help with any shaking when you press the shutter. Hope this helps.
  3. I haven't shot a lot of sports, but 1/3200 seems really fast. I imagine you would be able to freeze motion fairly well at much slower speeds like 1/1000 maybe? Looking through some old pictures I took at an air show shots done at 1/1600 barely showed motion blur at the end of an airplane propeller, so I had to slow it down to keep the planes from looking like inanimate models. An airplane propeller moves near the speed of sound at it's tip, way faster than most football players.
    In your situation I would use shutter priority (tv), auto ISO, and try lots of different speeds starting as slow as even 1/500th to see how it looks.
  4. Thanks, Edward.
  5. Thanks, Nathan. I'll give it a shot and let you know how it works.
  6. At 1/3200 and f5.6 they should be pretty dark - if not black! Sports photogs know that field lighting is terrible, even at the college level. and inside gyms is the same problem
    Increase the ISO to it's max - which may be 1600. At 300mm your max aperture will be f5.6. So....reduce the SS to 1/500 and see what you get. Might have to go slower to get closer to a decent exposure. And, 'so' again, you will be shooting on Manual. Once it is dark...it is dark, and light intensity is not going to change. If you have to use slower shutter speed, get a tripod or monopod - use a tripod as a monopod, just extend one of the legs as it will be easier to use and follow the action.
    for your white balance - take a picture and see how it looks. If color is 'weird', try another WB setting. It all depends on the type of lights on the fired.
  7. Susana,
    When is sunset? If you can, take as many shots before it gets dark. When the field is patched with shadows and direct sunlight, keep the camera in AV and wide open, ensure your ISO is set to maintain around 1/500. Once dark, I would recommend you keep your focal length no longer than 200mm keeping your aperture wider than f5.6. Keep your settings on manual, 1/250, f4.0, ISO 1600 and shoot away. If able (unsure if you can as you stated) try and get into the end zone when the offense is within 10 yards. With head on shots you can get away with slower shutter speeds, and able to see better intentions of the quarterback. Most of all... have fun and do not get discouraged! Photographing football is difficult, especially in a high school stadium. I argue it is some of the hardest sports photography around. Be careful... photographing football is addicting!! You always have something you can try next time!! Good luck and respond on here to let us know how it goes.
    Brian Barksdale
    P.S. As stated before, pick up a monopod if you can? Understand the budget constraints, but it will keep your 1/250 shots a little more tolerable. You'll be stuck in landscape though, as that lens doesn't have a collar to transition to portrait.
  8. grh


    Rent a 70-200 f/2.8 lens and use a monopod or tripod. You shouldn't need anything shorter than 1/400 s or so for your shutter speed, but you may have to experiment. At 1/250 s you'll get blur on the extremities.
  9. Susana,
    Gary is exactly right, 1/250 will give you some blur on the extremities, but with your equipment limitations, this is acceptable if you ensure the main body / head is sharp. Faster glass will yield faster shutter speeds, but I of all people understand money constraints when I first started out. Either way, try and learn what works for you. Understanding the challenges with night sports photography makes it easier to purchase the right equipment in the future.
    Brian Barksdale
  10. Steve, Brian and Gary
    Thanks for the tips. I appreciate you guys taking the time to answer my question. I will let you all know how it goes. If only they'd play during the day ;)
    Brian, I do have access to the end zone. I've learned to watch where the ball is going so I don't get knocked down by the players, been pretty close to it.
  11. 1/3200 is way, way, way off the mark. I don't believe I've ever used a shutter speed that high for anything, sports or otherwise. Back when I used to shoot high school night football every week on film, by Nikon F2 only went to 1/2000 and I never used even that.

    1/500 is about the fastest you need for football, and you can get by most of the time at 1/250. I used to shoot games at 1/125 when the light was poor -- had to shoot a lot of frames because some were blurred and some weren't. Definitely try a monopod -- it won't stop motion blur caused by subject movement, but it can greatly reduce camera shake.

    It can be very challenging to shoot night sports with a lens as slow as the one you're using. I would set your ISO at 1600 and the lens wide open on aperture priority and see what shutter speed you can get. If it isn't high enough go to ISO 3200 if your camera can handle it without the noise levels getting too nasty.

    If you can't afford to buy a faster lens, consider renting a 2.8 70-200. But if you're going to be shooting every week the rental tab could add up quickly. Sigma and Tamron also make 2.8 70-200s for much less than the Nikon or Canon price. A fast prime is tempting, but very limiting when the distance between you and the players is constantly changing. And if you are shooting wide open on a f/1.4, for example, you have no depth of field and you might avoid blur only to get out-of-focus shots instead.

    If all else fails, see the previous post on the sports forum here about shooting football with flash.
  12. 1/3200 is way, way, way off the mark​
    Right enough, Craig - not only unnecessary, but hugely optimistic.
    I was only getting 1/800 at 3200 ISO and f/4 (wide open) shooting this game of rugby, and this was in "daylight".
    (Canon 7D, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS and Sigma 1.4x TC, handheld at 308mm).
  13. The previously mentioned "flash for football" thread has an example, at the bottom, of ISO 3200 f/2.8 at 1/250 shot with a 400mm lens (without a flash).
    Shooting at 300mm and f/5.6, even using the maximum ISO the T3 offers (6400), will be extremely challenging. The camera is going to have a lot of difficulty focusing at that aperture in low light.
    One thing that I don't think has been mentioned yet is the fact, depending on how you're framing your shots, the camera could very easily be fooled into overexposing (given all the darkness in the background). The nice thing, however, is that it's digital and so shooting a lot and making small adjustments will not cost you anything. Practice, practice, practice!
  14. Thank you everyone for your replies and suggestions. I took some pictures last Thursday night and even though they are not top notch, they aren't too bad. ISO 3200 1/250. I did a bit of editing and they turned out ok. Probably the stadium lighting isn't as bad as I though and that helped with the quality of the pictures. I think I'm going to invest in a good lens since I'll be doing this for a while. At least until my son graduates from high school and that's 4 more years to go.
    Thanks again!
  15. Susana,
    Glad to hear it worked out!
    Brian Barksdale

Share This Page