1. Learn the Sport
Remember that the tighter you zoom in, the higher your shutter speed needs to be. If you are shooting a large, wide-angle view of an entire event, you can often get by with quite a low shutter speed, as motions will appear small in the frame.
But if you are zoomed in on individual participants or athletes, then even small motions will produce unsharp images. The second lighting challenge indoors is the color and quality of light. Unless you are in a venue lit for television, it is unlikely to have full-spectrum lighting. Likely it has some mix of incandescent, fluorescent and other harsh artificial light sources.
Especially if the venue is too large to use flash effectively, you'll be stuck with the lighting you find. Here again, shooting Raw lets you tweak the white balance adjusting for the ambient lighting later in Photoshop or your Raw processor, but if you can't, then experiment with your camera's white balance settings to get one that is closest to the light you've found.
Depending on what you want to photograph, you may need quite a bit of exposure compensation because of the wide variance in light levels in indoor situations. We've all looked out across sporting events and seen dozens of tiny flashes popping as spectators try to take photos of stadium-sized venues with their built-in flashes going off.
All they are doing is killing their batteries, confusing their camera, and slowing down their ability to capture multiple frames in sequence. If you find yourself in that position, do yourself a favor and turn off your flash. But for indoor venues in particular, if you have a full-size speedlite like the Nikon SB or Canon EX ii , you may be surprised by how effective they can be.
In the following image of a robotics competition in a large venue, I bounced the light from my SB off the bright metal ceiling to fill out the light in the room. If you own a pro telephoto zoom, you've probably been asked many times why you're using such a big lens, or how someone can get the same images without carrying such a heavy lens.
And you probably know that the answer is that you can't. Speed in lenses—loosely defined as faster focusing and wider minimum aperture allowing in more light—comes at a price in cost, size and weight. So for indoor action like sports there really isn't any substitute for using the fastest lens you can afford and carry into the venue—even if it means a larger camera bag or using a monopod for stability.
The image below of a volleyball game in a poorly lit gym was made without flash, back when I was using my D2H and could only go to ISO Note, though, that nothing short of flash would help the quality of light, so the player's face just doesn't come alive the way it would have if I had been able to use flash or strobes.
If you'd like some more tips on photographing kids' sports, I've got an article with lots of handy pointers that you may want to read. For most events, noise isn't an issue, but for certain types of music or for religious services it can be a big deal. When I was asked to photograph a memorial service, I had to choose between the low light performance of my D and the Quiet Shutter feature of my Ds.
I wound up using both cameras—for the quiet shutter when I was close to the audience, and the D for the better low-light and wide-angle full-frame performance embodied by the 20mm overview of the stage and audience in the image below:. But dress rehearsals can be a goldmine for photographing plays or dances in particular.
Often, by volunteering to take photos of the event, which the sponsors can use for promotion or just as keepsakes, you can get access to a rehearsal and have the freedom to take some great images. If you can, have them crank up the lights to their maximum, but if you can't, then you can use remote flashes to help out. When photographing the dress rehearsal in the image below, I had three speedlites spread across the front of the stage, which I were controlling with a remote commander on my D That gave me maximum flexibility for lighting.
I always have the lower right button on my camera programmed to be "flash kill" so I can take images with or without flash. In this case, the flash allowed me to freeze the motion of the dancer while keeping my ISO low enough to keep the image from becoming noisy:.
One way to "fix" the lighting at an indoor event is simply to step outside. Of course you probably can't move the action outside, but if you are also taking portrait shots of individuals, families or teams, you may be able to get them to step outside briefly, to take advantage of natural daylight.
My daughter and I took this portrait of ourselves before a recent event using a remote before stepping inside, where it would have been much more difficult.
The minute you go indoors, you're of course on someone's property, and possibly at an event that is considered private or proprietary.
So think about the permission s you might need in order to photograph, to use flash, or to publish the photographs.
Of course, if it is an event or exhibit to which you've been invited, you'll want to make sure and get permission in advance. Some religions, for example, do not allow photography or do not allow flash photography. Others are fine with it, or might allow it for some types of services and not others. Similarly, for sporting events there may be rules limiting your choice of equipment—many pro events have started refusing entrance to anyone with a DSLR, monopod or tripod, while others don't seem to care.
High school events may prohibit the use of flash photography, while at college or pro events for the same sport you may see dozens of flashes going off. And of course, your rights to use or sell the images may be limited if the event is owned by someone—almost always the case for professional sports, for example, and for most commercial concerts—or if you use recognizable images of people.
As a practical matter, though, if you are taking images for your own enjoyment these issues aren't really a big deal. But if it is a private event, then obviously you should consider whether you need permission to post images publically. Screens can often be much brighter than the room—especially if it has been darkened for easy viewing. You may need to dial in minus compensation if you want the screen to be readable, or get permission to briefly use flash to even out the light levels.
If you've enjoyed these tips, please do visit my sites where you can find many others on all aspects of photography, cardinalphoto. And if you're ready to go to the next level, please consider joining me for one of my small group digital photo workshops and safaris. Hi Tony Abbott i am aging messages and the mace messages and the mace times aging messages aging men llkes aging men likes as help work nights sold news aging Tomorrow next week times as sold news as help cold as help cold comings you is opens nights sold news aging messages aging messages and the is on likes aging sold lids old ok.
Many photographers are very concerned about shooting with the ISO at a very high level. You need to find out what is good and what is not good with your particular camera in terms of ISO limits.
The extended ranges CAN be used but you will have much more noise on the higher end. Useable ISO is what is important here. A very quick and easy way to get the WB very close to what it should be at an indoor basketball game or a football game is to use the Kelvin White Balance setting in your image. How do you know where to set it? Use live view and look at your LCD. Adjust the Kelvin setting until you see on the screen what you see in real life.
You're set and the WB will remain the same throughout your shooting. There won't be any fluctuations and this makes post processing much more simple. There is a caveat however. This is assuming the light isn't changing. An indoor sporting event and night football game where the game starts under the lights when it's totally dark out and ends that way will be great for using the above set-it-and-forget-it method. If you are shooting a football game and it's still fairly bright out, the ambient light will be changing during the game so be aware of this.
Shooting AUTO is a real headache in these situations as your WB will be all over the place and setting it later in post is a real pain. Watch an NBA game. Watch an NFL game. In basketball all the photographers are on the court sitting or kneeling. Most of them are on the sidelines or at rear of endzone and often they are down low or on a knee. This gives a perspective that is different than what we normally see since we are always upright.
It allows more of the action to be placed within the frame also — ground up. Knowing the sport that you are shooting helps out immensely. For example, if I were to shoot a field hockey game, the images would probably not be so good as I have very little idea what goes on in the game of Field Hockey.
In a football game, stay in front of the action and shoot at the team on offence as they come toward you. Staying ahead of the action will allow you to get facial expressions and the eyes of the players. They always tell the story! If you can, try to get a list of the better players as they tend to get the ball more often and that will be where the center of action usually is.
Just because the action on the field or court is what everyone is watching, there may be some action off the field that is every bit as interesting. A coach can have facial or body expressions during the game that can be priceless. A concerned parent in the stands could also be very interesting to capture. The Cheerleaders are part of the whole experience too and they would love to be photographed and part of the action. After the team has scored a touchdown or a player has hit a huge shot in a basketball game, the teams may celebrate with lots of excitement.
Make sure you get that as those are some of the best shots possible. This can help save you from getting injured and even more important is the fact that you might miss a very key shot!
Once you have your exposure correct, the LCD can pretty much be ignored. Cleaning up noise in post is essential when shooting at ISO ranges that push your sensor. Processing them of course and this is either the fun part or the part you hate. It is something that must be done so just accept it and do your best.
With a Fine Quality JPEG, a quick crop and maybe some contrast adjustments are all that are needed for some pretty nice results. Culling images is the process of picking and choosing the keepers and the non keepers. There are many ways of doing this. You may like the simple system I use:. There are tons of ways to cull your images.
That's just something that is simple and works in my head. Develop your own and stick with it. You need to be organized.
Drifting aimlessly through 1, images is a sure way to lose focus and drive yourself mad. Cropping the images is usually the first thing you should do. Try to keep the aspect ratio the same and use standard size ratios because this will make it much easier if someone wants a print down the road. Standard size prints are easy to deal with while odd sized images are simply a pain.
Use the basic composition rules here. Try not to cut off feet at the edge of the image. Getting eyes in on the action is always interesting. Once in develop mode, there are a few things to look for. Highlight detail can be recovered by reducing the highlight slider and also the whites slider. Avoid increasing exposure or shadow detail as this will increase the presence of visible noise in the image.
Bringing the blacks slider down can make the noise in the dark areas quiet down somewhat. It's still there but we just don't see it as much because the dark areas are being turned, well, dark and this is where digital noise really dwells. Clarity slider should be used with care and try not to over do it here. Many new photographers myself included when first starting out tend to overuse the clarity slider and it creates crunchy images that have too much contrasts in the mid tone areas and causes some nasty effects.
Vibrancy and saturation can be used to taste and once again, be careful here as it is very easy to over do it with color. The green grass on a football field is one of these areas we have seen in many images where it is just way too neon green.
Be aware of this and use your judgement. Within Lightroom there is the Details panel when using the develop module. There is sharpening as well as noise reduction. The noise reducing tool within Lightroom is actually very good and can produce amazing results on its own.
By using the detail recovery slider, Lightroom can find the detailed areas within the image and sort of eliminate the noise reduction in those areas to leave detail where detail should be and noise reduction where it should be. It's a delicate balancing act but one that can work.
A way to create very clean images with strong noise reduction where it is needed and clean details where they are needed is to make a duplicate copy within LR Create Virtual Copy and then take the noise reduction slider all the way to Leave the other detail panel sliders alone.
This copy is made after your initial basic adjustments. What this is doing is allowing us to bring in the original image that has noise and also the noise reduction copy and layer them with the noise reduction copy on top layer in Photoshop.
Make sure to watch the video where I explain how to use color range to create very specific masks. Once in PS, make sure the layer with noise reduction applied is on top. This will allow you to mask away the noise reduction to the areas of the image where you want all the detail retained. It may contain some noise since these are HIGH ISO images but the contrast between clean, noise free surroundings and the fine details of the image really make for crisp images that pop.