Shooting through a cage...Sports photography

Discussion in 'Sports' started by angela_s., Oct 20, 2006.

  1. Hi everyone... I'm new to this forum and very new to photography... I'm looking for a little help... I want to take pictures of a friends fight this weekend but he's fighting in a cage. (If any of you have seen Ultimate Fighting you know there is a cage around the ring) I'm shooting with an Olympus E-500 and I have 14-45mm Zuiko lens and 40-150mm Zuiko lens. I'm looking for any tips to help me get some decent shots. I'm looking to acheive something like this... [​IMG] Thanks in advance for any help!!!
  2. Its not the cage you have to worry about, its the lighting. Because your lenses have an aperture of 5.6 at the max focal length, you'll have to use a slow shutter speed, even at the highest ISO. To take something like that, you need a lens with an aperture of 2.8 or larger.
  3. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Please don't post photographs that you don't have the rights to post.

    With cage fighting, there are only two ways to get good shots. One is to stand on the steps leding up to the ring, which is how I suspect this shot was taken. This requires a pass and permission to shoot on a ladder of some sort (or the steps at the corners) and a high level of trust. The other is to use a boom with remote control, although I have only seen this done for ESPN.

    Cage fighting is safer for the fighters but a real pain for photographers.
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I would add that Leopold is right that your lenses are probably too slow. The lighting isn't good at these events unless they are also being shot for TV, in which case the lighting will be much better.

    Also, it sounds like you don't have access, which will make it impossible to get shots like this, even without a cage.
  5. Thank you for your responses and for letting me know about the picture posting. My husband is a fighter so promotors always let me get ringside when guys from our team fight. However, standing up over the cage while two beasts slam each other around is not something I'd want to try... Since lighting is the issue here, what would be the second best option I have, using my lenses...and shooting trough the cage. I could always adjust the color in CS2... This photo was taken with my camera and its just to far, no expression. So, something is better than nothing... keep shooting from far OR through the cage? [​IMG] Thanks again for your help!
  6. Just another tip, if you manually focus, the AF won't confuse the fence for the subject, and if you manually focus past it, it will be hard to notice.
  7. soooo... (go ahead and laugh at the clueless girl) My options on my camera are... S-AF (which is what I use) C-AF, MF, S-AF+MF and
    C-AF-MF. Are you saying I should leave it on Auto focus or change it to Manual Focus?

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your tips... I notice in a lot of the cage shots (while the fighters are on the ground)the photographer is shooting through the cage and you cant see the cage AT ALL... I want to do that...
  8. Basically I'm saying use manual focus (no AF) if the lens keeps focusing on the cage instead of the fighters. Otherwise, get as close as you can and use autofocus.
  9. If you could get really close to the cage so your lens was just an inch or two from it and you had a fast lens you might be able to blur the cage out of the image - although that will be harder with the smaller format 4/3rds sensor that it would be with a larger one. There's an excellent example of this if you search for 1.4 (use Ctrl+F) on this page:

    You might really need an f/2 or faster lens to do that - maybe some OM system lenses with an OM to 4/3rds adaptor, or some of the Sigma offerings in 4/3rds mount. An advantage is that you'll be able to use faster shutter speeds to help freeze action.
  10. Thanks! I appreciate everyones time! I'm on my way to the show... Have a great weekend!
  11. Angela, I hope your shoot went well. I do not do a lot of MMA shooting, but when I do, I find a short fast prime or a fast short zoom shooting through the holes in the cage are the best. Fast lenses help to throw the cage out of your DOF. If the cage lights are good enough, your 14-45 would be the best lens, but if you can pick up a 2.0 prime equal to a 50mm that would work the best. I am posting an example I took with a 50mm on a Canon 20D from ring side
  12. Interesting photo challenge. Reminds slightly the situation at race tracks when you have to shoot behind a fence. I usually try to get quite next to the fence and shoot thru a fence eye with a medium aperture or a couple stess off the fence and widest aperture to completely blur the fence.<P>
    Beside topic:<br>
    There was recently quite a lot of noise of a particular "nude"-category shot by Malik. There were some people who thought it was really out of line here in PN. I wonder about these shots. Personally, subjectively, it amazes me that someone can call this sport. Looks more perverse, sick and harmfull to children than any straight porn photo I can imagine. Nevertheless and topmost, it's supposed to be a free world.
  13. It was Kovalik and not Malik. Sorry.
  14. Great Photo Carl Auer... wow... I'm inspired... that is what I, one day would hope to acheive. Last nights shots were AWFUL!!!I'm embarrassed to show but... that's the only way i'll learn... This was the first time I've ever tried anything like this and it was more challenging than trying to round up 5 toddlers for a group shot... But I like a challenge so at some point I'll have to beg, borrow or steal to get the right equipment... wow, this hobby is killing me... Anyway, here are a few of my 'awful shots'... [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] when I bought this camera I taught myself by always shooting on M, P, or A... Never Auto... never scene modes... But I have to admit... I did cheat on some shots... these were taken on sports mode to my surprise at an iso of only 400... most of my shots were 800 or 1600... lots of noise...
  15. Angela, you did one thing great. Your shooting location was idea. You were able to shoot through the cage and get right into the action.

    Now this is only my opinion, but sports modes on consumer cameras are a joke. I will never understand the decision to set Sports mode at ISO 400. Most people who are not pros using top pro gear, but still shooting sports are more than likely mom and pop shooting their kids in all sorts of sporting events. While baseball and daytime football and soccer might be ok with sports mode, take someone inside to a middle school gym and try to use Sports mode, well, ISO 400 is just not going to cut it. The shot I posted, I was lucky enough to have access to the ring to take light reading of the spot lights and the official event shooter was able to tell me what the kelvin temp of the lights were so I did not have to use a custom wb. I was able to get a good shutter speed to freeze the action and thats what you need to focus on now. I do not think your lenses are going to cut it. Looking at the lenses available for the Oly, the shortest, fastest lens you can get is a 30mm 1.4 from Sigma, which will be more like a 60mm 1.4, but it will be better than nothing. Not cheap (man those 4/3rds lenses are pricey) but if this is what you are going to shoot, you need to seriously look at this lens. Having that 1.4 lens would probably allow you to shoot at ISO 800 and get the 1/500th shutter speed. If you have to bump your ISO, do it, even if it is noisy. A noisy, well exposed, focused shot freezing the action will be a lot nicer than a low noise, lower ISO, well exposed shot showing motion blur and camera shake with nothing apearing in focus. You may want to invest in a noise reduction plug in too to help clean the higher ISO images up some....
  16. Hi Carl. Your shot is so perfect. So now I have to find out what Kelvin temp is...I wasn't kidding when I said I was clueless. :)I agree with what you said about these scene modes...

    I like shooting the fights a lot and will eventually invest the money so I can do this right... Its easy for me to get a press pass for these events to get practice too...I'm just not sure if I should spend that kind of money on a lens for my Olympus...Maybe I should hold out until I can scrape up the dough for a better camera... after I learn more... I'm confused about that since I will never be pro I don?t even know if I'd need a better camera... But I do like Nikons D200...

    Thank you for your recommendation. I have a feeling your opinion just put me $400 more in the hole...LOL. That lens got good reviews... So QUESTION...What do you think about finding a used lens? Is that a big 'no-no"?
  17. used lenses are fine. Just becareful when buying them. eBay use to be great for used lenses, but so many ebusinesses do mass postings there now, it is hard to find some good deals anymore. The classifieds here at are good, but I would recommend dealing with a member who is local to you just to be safe. The clasifieds at Fred Miranda ( are really good, again if you are careful (seeing a great, cheap deal from a brand new member might be something to avoid, but buying from someone with a couple thousand posts, or a long time member is usually very safe). B&H, Adorama, KEH and various other stores have a pretty good used department. I just sold a 300 F4IS at FM for exactally what I wanted to sell it for and purchased a 300 2.8 for less than I was planning on spending.

    As for Kelvin temperature, in a nutshell, film was broken out mainly in two different types, Daylight and Indoor. Daylight was balanced for a sunlight kelvin temperature and indoor was balanced for the kelvin of lightbulbs (there were different indoor films for different types of lights). While using a custom wb is the best way to make sure your images have the correct colors, an even better way is to use a kelvin setting, if your camera allows for setting the kelvin temperature. My 20D and 1D do, and so I was able to set the camera to the kelvin temperature of the spot lights to get the most accurate colors (even though with all my fight photos I convert to black and white. Fight photos should always be black and white in my opinion). To do this regularly, you need a color meter. Much like a handheld light meter, a color meter will give you color temerature readings that you plug into your camera instead of taking a whitebalance reading. I find using color temperature settings give the absolute best color renditions. The major drawback is the color meters are around $1000. So, unless I know for sure what the Kelvin setting is, I just use CWB.

    And yes...that was a nutshell.
  18. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge! I really appreciate your time helping me. I registered with FR and noticed you?re an admin over there... I was stalking your websites... Unbelievable shots! I love the shot where the baseball is frozen in time. Wow... They're all fantastic!

    One more question I have for you... (sorry)... I've never bought anything used before... What should I expect to pay for an item in good shape if the retail value is like $429??

    I doubt my camera has a Kelvin setting... I've read my manual 3 times and never came across that but if it did happen to have one I'd like to borrow my friends color meters. Please think of me if you come across this lens...

    :) Angie
  19. Angela, check page 86 of the EVOLT E-500 Reference Manual, it talks about color temperature (Kelvin Settings) there.

    As for the lens, if you can find a used one, you might be able to get it for $300 to $350. Your best price new would probably come from which is supose to be pretty good.

    Yeah, I have been a moderator over at FM for a few years. I really enjoy it. A headache a lot of the times, but I have made some great connections through FM and through SportsShooter which have been a great help with my photo career.
  20. I wouldn't obsess too much about the white balance. Your camera seems to have done a fair job even with auto white balance. Your real problem is that your shots were at 400ISO, f/3.5 and 1/8th second. To get to 1/500th you need 6 stops altogether. 2 can come from shooting at 1600 ISO rather than 400. f/1.4 will give you another 2 1/2 stops, leaving you with a shutter speed of around 1/200th - a lot better than 1/8th, but not quite fast enough to freeze motion - and perhaps explaining the blurred foot in the image you posted at the start of the thread.

    I think you ought to give serious consideration to swapping camera systems now, before you invest more money in a system that won't really quite cut it for this kind of photography - although capable enough for other purposes. You really need something that offers useable 3200 ISO to give you that extra stop that would get you to shutter speeds in the region of 1/500th. The best 3200 ISO camera currently is probably the Canon 5D, but the Canon 30D isn't too far behind, and if you were to add a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens you'd have a very similar angle of view to the 40mm you were mostly shooting at with your Olympus. With Canon's current double rebate program it's a ~$1300 investment, and you could sell your Oly to help fund it. But in reality, it is the tool you need to do the job.

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