Need help with Water Polo/Indoor Pool Shoot

Discussion in 'Sports' started by kenbooth, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. First attempt at shooting water polo and first attempt at shooting at an indoor pool this Friday and I need your help. First I'm concerned
    about my equipment and fogging. I know I should arrive early to get my equipment adjusted to the humidity, but do I detach the lens from
    the camera when doing so, or leave it on? If I leave it on, what will happen when I change lens'? Secondly, I don't know much about the
    sport, so any help you can give me regarding positioning myself for a good shot (can I lay out on the deck or will I be in the way?), lighting,
    or any other advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm shooting with a 30D and have a 70-200 F2.8 IS and a 50 F1.4 (on camera flash only)

    Thanks in advance!

    - Ken
  2. I shoot swimming meets quite often with a 70-200 2.8L. I use a UV filter to keep water off the lens. I have never had a problem with fogging. The light in most indoor pools is terrible from an intensity standpoint and contrast away from the lights. I use flash a lot so preset your flash at a 200th in custom functions. You can shoot flash then on AV.or in manual. If your flash shutter speed gets down to a 60th you will get blurring behind the flash image. Without flash watch the contrast as Waterpolo moves back and forth and most pool lighting is uneven. There always seems to be a dark end. Without flash get your shutterspeed as high as possible. I have recently shot meets in the Boston University pool and at Harvard. The light is uneven in both places. If you are on the deck just stand up and shoot a lot of pictures A lot just depends on the light you encounter. Be prepared to correct white balance as some indoor pool lights are very wierd. I shoot RAW and use ACR so I can correct white balance afterwards. If you use effective flash white balance is OK until you get out of flash coverage then you get the problem of two different color temperatures in the same frame. I have done that. Below is a flash picture indoors at Harvard.
  3. Ken,
    I shot swimming and water polo pictures for the last two years for my son's swim team. I used a Nikon D1h with a 70-200mm VR and no flash. You should check with the officials and the coaches if it is ok for you to use flash. I would not recommend it unless your lighting situation is desperate. I've shot in some pools that could only be described as caves and still did not use flash. I would also bet that the referee will not let you use a flash on the start because the starting mechanism uses an audible and visual start. The visual part being, you guessed it, a flash.

    Don't worry about fogging unless it is really cold outside. Keep your camera on the passenger seat on the ride there and put the heater on. Get there early enough before the meet starts to let your gear warm up. Pools are humid but not humid enough to be of a concern for lens swapping. My best advice here is to keep the camera and lens, but especially the lens, as warm as possible.

    I would suggest that you set your white balance manually. Put something white in an area of average light and set it using a slow shutter speed (1/125 - 1/320) so the lights can cycle. This will give you a white balance setting that is pretty close. This should also take into account mixed lighting situations.

    Don't worry about the 50 yard (or meter, which ever they use) freestyle. All you will see is fountains of splashed water and elbows. Use the 50 free event to take a breather, drink a little water and to position yourself for the next event.

    Shoot a lot at the end of the lane opposite the starting blocks. This is pretty much common sense. You want to stay away from the starting area, especially during a relay event when it can get quite crowded. Shooting the near lanes from the side of the pool can also get you some good angles on the swimmers too.

    Get low to the deck. Some of the best pictures are from extreme angles. If you are standing, try shooting down on the outside lanes when the swimmer passes by.

    Get pictures of the swimmers out of the pool also. Get pictures of the crowd. If people have their faces painted up, all the better.

    There is a lot that goes into shooting a swim meet successfully. You really have to know the events and the swimmers and their idiosyncrasies. Some swimmers only breath from one side. If you can't get a face shot on on leg, you have to wait until they are on their return leg. You won't know this going in. My son's team had on guy that breathed from one side except for the last stroke before the turn when he would breath from the other side. If I was out of position to take a picture of him coming down, I could rely on him to take the opposite breath before the turn and grab a pic then.

    Shoot, shoot, shoot. You will have to take a sequence of about five images during the butterfly or breast to try to get one good one. Be prepared to throw a lot away. I shot between 450 to 500 images during a dual meet and ended up with about 50 - 75 that I published to the teams website. I shot jpg's because it was convenient. I wasn't going to do a lot of tweaking before they landed on the website.

    Take an extra battery.

    Do you have to shoot diving too? That is a tough event to shoot well. Everything is quiet and you want to be quiet too but you can swear that the divers can hear you breathing. It's hard and takes a lot of practice. Good luck on that one.

    By the way, do you have any credentials to be on the pool deck? Some officials can get pretty touchy about that. If you do, find the head referee BEFORE you start shooting and let him know what you are doing and that you are credentialed to be on the deck. They will appreciate it and allow you more lattitude in were you can stand on the deck. You may be able to get some credentials from the school AD. The first rule that I adhere to when shooting a swim meet is to stay out of the referee's way. Stay out of everyone's way. Be a ghost, Casper, the invisible man.

    That's all I have for now. I could go on for hours, believe me. If I think of anything else, I'll post again.

    Good luck,
  4. My experience with polo is that if you are on the pool deck, then shoot kneeling or standing from near the corners. But be careful because the AF will often focus on the splash and the players will be out of focus. Shooting from above, stands or 3 meter board if they will let you, seems to minimize a great deal of the splash / focus problem. Also, up high will avoid the busy background:
    The shot would have been better without the background clutter.
    Both shots were kneeling near the corner of the pool.
    Sorry I can't help with the indoor part, all pools are outdoors here.
  5. Flash does interfere with timing and should be withheld during starts.
  6. Kenneth, how did your polo shots come out?

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