Shooting through mesh netting

Discussion in 'Sports' started by brian_bahn, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. I'll post this question here because it probably happens more often than not in sports. As I watch the baseball
    playoffs I see the photographers behind home plate shooting through the black mesh netting. Obviously they are
    to do it or they wouldn't be there.

    My question is what are the physics behind the ability to focus past the net? Or should I say what are the limits at
    which that can be done? As in the thickness of the net, color, minimum aperture lens, distance to subject and focal
    length, etc...?
  2. Unless your lens is poking through a space in the netting, it's a 50/50 chance of getting sharp focus on the players. So, it's manual focus with aperture set to give you the DOF needed. Keep aware of yur position relative to the back of the net as the DOF range will move with you, so to speak.
  3. That's hard to answer without knowing what type of camera your shooting with and the lens your working with as well. I would suggest that you just experiment with your equipment to see what works best for you. I have shot through all types of screening with mixed results but in most cases I can get the shot I am looking for.
  4. Shooting with large aperture telephoto (300mm f2.8, 400mm f2.8, 600 f4, etc.) at maximum aperture with lens hood
    right up against the netting will do the job. With lens' front element only inches away from netting, combining with
    these lenses' minimum focusing distance being 5 feet or greater, and their large apertures, the nettings will barely, if
    at all, registered on the resulting photos. Additionally, if there is AF difficulty in such situation, manual focussing on
    a pitcher is easily manageable.

    Now, if the netting is too closely meshed, focal length is shorter, aperture is smaller, and/or lens is positioned too far
    back away from netting, then you won't have shallow enough of depth-of-field to blur away the obstacle. Shooting a
    35mm at f5.6 2 feet away from the same netting, you'll most likely have a nicely focused black netting with blurred
    action in the field.
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    > My question is what are the physics behind the ability to focus past the net? <

    Manual focussing is not necessarily the answer: it depends upon the lens (mainly) and perhaps in some instances,
    maybe the camera, with which you are working.

    For example, in the Canon Range, the EF300F2.8L has an electronic focus preset capacity, and (though I do not
    shoot baseball), my understanding of the game means a 300mm lens behind the Catcher would be a good FL on a
    1DsMkII, for example, to get the Pitcher, and both First and Third Base.

    Also many (of the more expensive) telephotos and telephoto zooms have a closest AF selection distance, or AF
    range selection: on the 300F2.8L there are three selections available.

    By using one (or both) of these two of these functions, and judicious placement (distance) behind the netting: the
    netting will never factor into the AF function.

  6. As general a general rule the faster and longer the lens and the faster the lens the better it is to shoot through fencing and mess. The big trick here is to get the lens right next to the fencing and shoot wide open. Since aperture only has a minor effect on sharpness, but controls Depth of field (Range of Focus) and a shallow depth of is desirable for most baseball and sports anyway this works well. As far as focal length the best focal range for this is 70mm or higher. If you stop down you then you can see some black shadows of the fencing. The other trick is center up the lens on one the spaces on the fence This will help with AF and keep and gives you a sweet spot with maximum area with the least soft focus areas by the fencing. Generally I shot at f/2.8 for most of the shots, but f/4 should work well.
  7. Thanks for the answers. I will be using an Olympus 50-200 2.8 - 3.5. I have nothing specific planned right now but saw it being done and wanted to know how it worked in case I ever did need to know. Thanks again.
  8. I've just shot an entire season of local volleyball matches, and from the sidelines I end up shooting through the net at about a 35-degree angle a LOT. I've learned that if I use the center focus point of my camera and manually focus past the net, the lens tends not to "see" the net and therefore won't lock on it, since the autofocus is looking for contrast and the contrast of a jersey (or something like that) will be "seen" by the focus point instead of the blurred net. Even with AI Servo AF this tends not to be a problem.

Share This Page