The right moment to take a sports photo

The right time to take a sports photo

Have you ever wondered what is the right time to take a sports photo ? If so, maybe you are interested in reading this article in which I will try to address this issue through a photo of FMX .

First of all I would like to reflect on the following. Have you seen sports photos with incorrect or improvable technique published in magazines or newspapers? I’m sure the answer is yes. Maybe you’re wondering why this happens. The answer is very simple, probably those improvable photos, (all are), captured the right moment.


The right moment in sports

The right moment in sports photography is one in which the emotion, achievement of the trick or execution of a masterful play is culminating in the moment of taking the photo. Let’s give examples, if our picture were of Rugby the right time would probably be when a player gets rid of the defenders right on the line to make a touchdown . In boxing the right moment would be when a boxer hits the uppercut that makes him the winner of the fight. Obviously there are other “just moments” in this type of sports, but I wanted to put a couple of strong examples.


The right moment in extreme sports

And what happens in extreme sports? Well, something good, the right time is when the rider is at the height of his trick if for example we talk about Skateboard, BMX, or FMX … The photo of the example that accompanies this article today is a picture of FMX made in the last edition of the Barcelona Extreme festival .


The ethical code of sports photographers

Especially in extreme sports, and especially in Skateboard even if you shoot the right moment a photo will not be valid if the skater does not “iron” the trick. This means that if you do not execute the whole trick without errors that photo will not be shared, or published. At least this is the ethical code that a sports photographer usually takes into account.


The ethics and logic of the photographer

In the same way as in the previous point, the logic and ethics of a sports photographer will be the one that prefers a picture, for example, of soccer, in which the striker made the shot at goal that gave the victory to his team to a photo where the chute did not enter goal.

The example FMX photo

I have purposely chosen the example photo of this article as it is very improvable, but it picked up the right moment of the FMX trick that the rider was doing at that moment.


Equipment used for this photo

For this photo I used a reflex camera body from the Canon range of the great public, along with a Canon lens with a focal length of 55 to 250 millimeters, maximum aperture of F4 and image stabilizer.


Exif data of the image

To make this photo of sports I adjusted the aperture in F13 and the exposure time in 1/250 seconds. The focal length was 74 millimeters and the ISO speed was 200.

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Modeling light and manual focus

Modeling light and manual focus

Luz de modelado y enfoque manualLast Saturday I was doing a photography session for musicians in a place in the province of Barcelona. In this case there was no possibility to focus with the automatic focus since there were no overhead spotlights focusing on the musicians. So, there was not what is known as modeling light and I had to use manual focus during the whole session in which 3 musical groups performed.

The main theme of today’s post will try to address and define what both are. The modeling light and the impossibility of having an automatic focus. My intention is not to define these two topics in a profound way, but to speak broadly of them without going into complex technical aspects or others that would make their understanding difficult.


What is modeling light?

The modeling light is a tungsten light source that includes some studio flashes and that can be used, among other things, to preview the effects of lighting (usually in the studio). Another advantage is that you can make use of the autofocus of our objectives thanks to that modeling light.

It can also refer to the light that is used to create a three-dimensional effect through the play of light and shadows.

There are photographers who use this modeling light to get a slight idea of ​​how the shadows are going to be projected (for example) once they trigger a studio flash. Most studio flashes have modeling light that is available throughout the session.

Some cobra type flashlights (the portable ones) of medium / high range have a similar modeling light, but they do it by means of continuous flashes. Other flashes incorporate a point of light under the head of the flash and in the front that without being a modeling light helps us with the purpose of this article, the use of automatic or manual focus. To give an example for a flash Canon Speedlite 430 EX-II the manufacturer calls this extra help to focus , which in this case is to emit a beam of infrared light that offers the necessary contrast to help the lens with the autofocus on light conditions.

We could summarize the previous text and its interaction with the automatic focus of our camera as its main ally and also that not having modeling light or a focus aid deprives you of the automatic focus of your equipment. Sometimes that light helps the focus, (modeled or not), points to where the precise focus should not be or is insufficient. In this case we will obtain photos with little or no sharpness in the specific point if we use the autofocus.

If you had had this problem before and could not find the explanation, this text may have been useful, and if it had not happened, I suggest you try if you are interested in this topic.

Well, we could also summarize that not having a modeling light or autofocus help at the point right where we want to focus is a great bitch . And yes, it is, but not all is lost. We have a switch on the lens to force the lens to switch to manual focus mode.


Autofocus and manual focus

The first equipment, of which I have proof, that incorporated the autofocus was the Konica C35 AF camera. This camera was manufactured in 1977, which stipulates that the date of the invention of the autofocus. I do a rewind in this article and I come back to the point, that putada and I think about the amount of photographers who could not use this technological advance. What did they do then? It is very clear, they always used (and for any type of photography) the manual approach of their team.

I imagine a work by Jacques Henri Lartigue where the main subject is a racing car of the time and how he managed to focus.


Using manual focus

The use of manual focus is not easy and requires a certain degree of technique, much more the more movement the protagonist of the image has and also the more technical the further away he is. Some lenses have a very sweet manual focus mode that allows you to be very precise when using this type of focus. However, the low-end objectives do not usually offer much help when it comes to focus in manual mode. On the other hand there are objectives in which the focus can only be manual. To give examples, the objectives of the Samyang brand and those of the Peleng brand.

In the supposed cases that we do not have modeling light, or that the objectives do not include the autofocus system, we have it very complicated for example for sports photography. But .. If someone already got it successfully, we may also be able to do it.

The focus in manual mode is achieved by rotating the focus ring that incorporates all DSLR camera lenses, the telemetry cameras have a different focusing system. And in the recent equipment has incorporated a help to the approach through the LCD screen that is known as live view , what is achieved with this software is to see the scene on the screen before taking the photo and using the screen zoom you can specify with the focus, as long as you are not reluctant to do so. For example, I like to use the peephole in 100% of my photos.

Focus method used in the example photo

Not only in the example photo, but in the whole Saturday session, where 3 groups performed, I had to use manual focus in a compulsory way. This was so since I did not have a reliable modeling light and above all, because I did not have a modeling light at the exact point of the photo I wanted to take. All the photos except a few to which I applied abstract effects were taken with manual focus for this reason. Since, the aid to the approach of one of the flashes used was not useful to me since it was oriented towards the scene and not towards the protagonist that was (in this case) the battery of Sisters of a Town.

The use of manual focus is something that I do not usually do, but in this case I had no choice if I wanted to get a “decent” photos, so I had to improve my technique “in situ” using the test / error method. For me, the best method to learn these things.


Equipment used for this photo

For the realization of this photo I used a camera body of the brand Canon range great public together with a telephoto lens Canon EF-S 55-250 millimeters F4-5,6 IS. For lighting I used the strobist technique . With a simple wireless synchronization device of the brand Phottix that consisted of an emitter mounted on the hot shoe of the camera and two receivers that served as a hot shoe for the two flashes used. The flashes were a Canon 430 EX-II and a Nissin Di622 Mark-II .

Exif data and lighting scheme

To make this photo I adjusted the diaphragm aperture in F-5, the exposure time was 1/100 seconds, the ISO speed of 400 and the focal length was 146 millimeters. The focus mode was manual.

I used the Nissin Di622 Mark-II flash mounted on a tripod to the right of the battery bounced on a projector screen of about 60 inches and it was at a distance of about 3 meters from the battery, the flash regulated it to full power and He was in a straight line with the musician.

The second flash was placed on another tripod, this was off the stage at the maximum possible height, approximately 2.10 meters. This flash I graduated to a power of +1 2/3 and placed it on a downward trajectory right next to where I took the picture. This would be 5 meters away from the battery.

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Using flash in sports photography – Downhill – Photography blog

Using flash in sports photography – Downhill

Uso del flash en fotografía deportiva - DonwhillIn previous posts we had talked about how to use the flash in various situations and scenes. Today’s article is intended to explain more options about the use of flash and as a visual example I will share a photo of donwhill made yesterday using the strobist technique with two flashes. I combined this lighting technique with a panning made with a relatively slow shutter.

First of all I would like to thank the downhill riders that accompany me in these photo sessions that I usually post on my photography blog. Without them it would be impossible to publish this photo and of course I could not publish other descent with MTB.

Yesterday’s photo report took place very close to the Montserrat Mountain, in the province of Barcelona, ​​Spain. We were in a couple of spots where we have already taken photos before and there were also a couple of new ones, so soon I will expand my portfolio of descent photography .

Let’s go in parts, first, the use of flash in remote mode, strobist , via wireless synchronization. What is the lighting scheme of this photo of donwhill and what equipment was used to get it.


Using the flash outdoors

To make this photo of descent, two portable cobra type flashes synchronized by an emitter and two receivers were used. The emitter mounted on the hot shoe of the body of the reflex camera, while the two receivers were mounted on their corresponding tripod and served as a hot shoe. Two flashes with different orientation were used to illuminate this outdoor photo.


Flashes used

The flashes used for this photo were a Canon 430 EX-II flash from the Canon brand and a Di622 Mark-II from the Japanese manufacturer Nissin. As noted in the previous point, synchronization equipment was used for remote mode shooting.


The synchronization equipment

The synchronization equipment used to communicate the camera with the flashes was a simple phottix equipment that has a very affordable price. In the pack there is a crew of one transmitter and two receivers. The receivers work with triple A type batteries and usually last a long time, regardless of the quality of these, if we have the precaution of disconnecting them when we finish the session.


Placement of the flashes

The two flashes used for the illumination of this photo of Donwhill were placed on the right, I would have chosen to place one of them to the left of the photo but in that part it was impossible since there was a ravine full of weeds and weeds, as well I used another lighting scheme.

The flash used in the right rear part of the rider was located about two meters diagonally to the rider and approximately one and a half meters behind. This flash was the Canon Speedlite 430 EX-II .

Also to the right but this time in the front of the rider was the other flash, a Nissin Di622 Mark-II. This flash was at a diagonal distance of approximately 1 meter and less than one meter in front of the rider.


Light modifiers of the flashes

For the Canon 430 EX-II flash, a simple plastic Sto-Fen diffuser mounted on the camera head was used to expand the diffusion radius of this main light to a certain extent.

For the Nissin Di622 Mark-II flash, the same bounce was used, which the flash incorporates as standard in the flash head.


Potency of the flashes

The Nissin Di622 Mark-II flash only supports increments or decrements of power in intervals of 1/3, it is a pretty basic flash but it works perfectly. The power of this flash regulated it in 2/3 positives.

The flash of Canon 430 EX-II allows several adjustments for its use. This was adjusted to a power of +2 1/3 for the realization of this donwhill photo .

Synchronization of the flashes

The flashes were synchronized at a shutter speed of 1/125 seconds. The main flash was synchronized to the second curtain while the Nissin Di622 Mark-II was synchronized in normal mode.


Equipment used for this photo

For the realization of this photo of downhill I used a camera body Canon Eos range large public together with a Tokina lens 28-80 millimeters F2.8, an equipment of synchronization of economic flashes composed of two emitters and two receivers of the Phottix brand and a Canon Speedlite 430 EX-II flash and another flash of the brand Nissin Di 622 Mark-II.


Adjustments and exif data

To make this photo that accompanies this article about the use of flash via strobist I set the diaphragm aperture in F4,5, the exposure time was 1/125 seconds and I used an ISO speed of 200. The focal distance was 38 millimeters


Brief analysis of the photo

The example photo has a combination of sweep and freeze. The relatively slow shutter speed is seen in the background while the use of the flashes has achieved a freezing of the entire rider and the mountain bike. It is noted the lack of accessories to improve and modify the light of the main flash while the secondary has acted as a filler. The proposal for the improvement of this photo is exactly that, the use of flashes with light modifiers mounted on the heads. As an option a third effect flash in rear position to separate the rider from the background.

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Urban landscape or seascape

Cityscape or seascape

Paisaje urbano o paisaje marinoI think if it were English it would have been much easier for me to title this article. With a simple word would have sufficed. The fact is that I am not and I have to give a title to every article I write in this photography blog, hence the title of today “Urban landscape or seascape” , that everyone decides their title, even if it is not of the two landscape options suggested.

The fact is that in my opinion, no option of those mentioned in the title certainly describes the photo, at least for me. I have a particular reading of this photo that I share today in my blog, and as it is particular I am not going to preach it to the 4 winds either.

The only thing I can say is that this scene is the typical one in which a photographer stays stuck and then immediately assumes his role as an observer. In this same way I understand that it is better to explain the photo, so here goes:


I made this photo very close to the Barceloneta beach in Barcelona, ​​towards the passenger port. Some of you are sure that you know this scene perfectly and you may even have taken pictures of it. The truth is an urban or marine landscape that catches my attention.

For the realization of this photo I used a camera body Canon Eos great public, a Tokina AT-X 280AF PRO lens of 28-80 millimeters and maximum aperture for the entire focal length of F2.8. I used a diaphragm aperture of F10, a spot metering, an exposure time of 1/160 seconds and an ISO sensitivity of 100. To finish I gave the personal touch that every photographer usually gives his copies.

I think the attractiveness of this picture is due in large part to the composition, the arrangement of all the elements in the scene is orderly and relaxing. Maybe we’ll talk about a similar composition in my section on photographic composition.

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