Photographing Track & Field Events!

Discussion in 'Sports' started by jeff_z|1, Apr 17, 2016.

  1. Unfortunately, I don't get as much practice on this as I'd like - I make it to 2-3 meets a year and one is the state meet!
    My forte is landscape and agriculture - not as much sports, so I have a couple of specific questions! I use my 5D M3 and either 100-400 II or 24-105.
    I mostly photography Triple Jump, High Jump as well as 100/300m hurdles.
    On the triple jump, I get some good shots running toward the pit but the landing is tougher since the athlete jumps up then drops down in the frame. Any recommendations for keeping focus through the run, jump and landing? I shoot horizontal and have tried using AI Servo but I don't seem to stay on the person through the jump! I usually set up at the end of the pit - which I need to zoom in since I'm outside the track/field.
    High Jump - I focus on the name that's printed on the center of the pole but the subject is usually out of focus since they end up a few feet closer. Is the best option to use a wide aperture? Where do you focus?
    100-300m hurdles - this is ok, I usually set up at the very end - beyond the finish (outside the track) and line up on the lane and can get some ok shots over the hurdles. Surprisingly, less were in focus that I imagined - think I need to go above 1/500. Recommend AI Servo?
    I'd appreciate if you had any tips, feedback or ideas for shooting these sports!! Thanks!
  2. If you are going to shoot several meets, I'd try doing some side action shots (v. tight), tho that would require way faster shutter than 1/ could test it during training.
    Also, you could focus on the finish line and how to cover emotional situation of a person who lost as well as the winner....assuming this is possible.
    Your best bet is to get a permission to get on the inner circle and close to will have way more options.
    I used to shoot 'cross country' in HS and always fought the conventional approach.
    Good luck.
  3. It has been awhile since I shot track and field, but I usually tried to get as close as possible and use a wide angle lens. I often shot from the side and panned with the runners. If you can't get close, then you will have to use a telephoto. This makes focusing more critical. If your AI servo focus works well, then use it. If it has trouble following the subject, then you will need to pre-focus on where they will be. Keep trying new angles and techniques. You will figure out what works for you and your situation.
  4. Jay,
    hi. One tip for photographing the High Jump from a bit of a distance away like you're having to do.
    Remember what will be the focal plane of the subject as you take the picture - you don't say if you're photographing from the side or just behind.
    If from the side and you want to get the head/upper body in focus rather than the name in the middle of the pole, then assume that there will be about 3 foot difference. So. Focus on the middle of the pole and then manually move your feet about the same distance in the direction that the head/upper body will be.....quite effective.
    The other option would be to go up in the stands right behind where the jumpers are heading to and photograph down onto them.
    Best bet is to get that infield bib!
  5. Thanks for the info and advice!
    Andy - yes, I am going to try and get a media pass for next season! Otherwise, especially at larger meets, the options are very limited. Luckily people along the fences move often as events change. Also, great advice on focusing on the bar and moving back a couple feet!! Thanks!!
    I feel like I did very well with my recent meet - and, with a baseball game.
    One thing I found MOST effective - Back button focus combined with AI Servo (Canon 5DM3)! Worked great combined with a high shutter speed, at least 1000-1600. It was overcast with thunderstorms so I was at ISO 400 or lower when I could. Images are crisp!
    Thanks again! I can't wait to do more summer/club meets this summer & fall, just in time for my nieces senior year! And, with a pass, I hope to use more of the advice (wide angle, different perspectives, etc).
  6. Learn to manually focus your lens. As was mentioned sometime prefocusing on a spot where you know the athlete will be, is easier to get the shot than trying to track focus. This is the way I did it back in the manual focus film days.
  7. High jump, hurdles and even the triple jump would be good candidates for the trap focus technique.
  8. Access is everything.

    As far as high jump, I would presume that you want the athlete in focus. Why focus on the bar when the athlete will be moving cross it (hopefully)? Of, if they hit the bar, it'll move and your camera may shift focus elsewhere.

    Always focus on the athlete.

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