Shooting sports in bright sun

Discussion in 'Sports' started by robert_king|9, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Obviously you cannot change where you are shooting much. I need to know what to set the camera on when shooting sports (football, baseball, soccer, etc.) in the bright sunlight.
    Unfortunately, filters are not an option.
    I have a Canon EOS. Lowest f is 4.5, I believe.
    Please help me out. Just need some quick pointers to help get the glare out of the photos and get contrast in them. Sometimes they are a complete washout for me.
  2. When you say that filters are not an option, do you mean that removing them is not an option? Shooting into bright sun with filters is usually going to cause more trouble than not.

    But the main thing is: use a lens hood. That's exactly what they're more. In really bad situations, I'll even hold a hat out above the front of the lens.

    You will generally get better performance if you stop down some, rather than trying to use the lens wide open at it's largest aperture (lowest f-stop number). Say, f/8, or something like that. If you're in bright sun, that should still be fine in terms of keeping shutter speed up.

    The biggest issue, though, is keeping that direct sun from glancing off of the glass. Use a hood. Shoot under an umbrella if you have to. Or make sure that your lens is in the shadow of someone standing next to you.
  3. Hi Robert, welcome to!
    I shoot a lot of sports and dealing with bright sun is a hard task.
    Matts pointer regarding the use of the lens-hood is really important.
    I set my camera to it's lowest ISO, select the aperture I want (for me somewhere between 2.8 and 4) and dial in the corresponding exposure-time (manual everything except AF, typical scenario: ISO 100, f2.8, 1/2500sec.).
    I don't care if the highlights are a bit over-exposed, as long as the players faces are not washed-out. I try to avoid bright/glaring backgrounds - but it's not always possible.
    You could try to lower the cameras contrast-setting (assuming you're using a DSLR) or set it to some kind of fill-in-mode (called „Active-D-Lighting” in my Nikons).
    This usually gives me results I can further work with in Photoshop - curves to brighten the deep shadows a bit and so on.
    Hope this helps, Georg!
  4. If you have a choice, try to avoid shooting in the middle of the day. Closer to sunrise and sunset are much, much better. Also don't be afraid to move around the field to get in a good position. Like Matt said, watch the sun position as it will make or break the pictures.
    For the pictures themselves, the general rule of thumb is that you want the ball and player's face in the shot. Don't be afraid to zoom in. Use a speed of at least 1/500 to freeze the action and I generally prefer using a spot focus point to ensure that my subject is in focus.
  5. In general, I'd second GeorgS advice, but like to add that you can actually use back lighting to your advantage in reducing overall scene contrast per example below (early afternoon and late afternoon.) Shooting backlit, you'll want to give an extra 1-1.5 stop from metered reading. If light condition outside doesn't change, you can go with Manual Mode, keeping ISO lowest possible while maintaining minimum of 1/500 sec. shutter speed.
  6. And here's an example with a bit more help from active D-lighting.
  7. I'll just add that I regard 1/1000th of a second as the gold standard for freezing action, and by daylight it's easy to get. I don't like to stop down at all - with good glass, I always shoot wide open, lowish ISO, and let the camera give me a fast shutter speed. Shooting wide open cleans up my backgrounds.
    I'm all aboard with the idea of shooting backlit when you can. Just wear a cap because between plays you'll be looking into the sun.
    As far as highlight control goes, I expose for faces and use the recovery slider in Camera Raw to tame the highlights.
    Hope this help.

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