Sat 20-Oct-12 12:26 AM | edited Sat 20-Oct-12 12:30 AM by goose42195
Hello all, my question has probably been asked many times, and I apologize for that, but I'm new to the site and still trying to navigate it.
I just upgraded to a D7000 from a D90, and shoot many of my daughter's soccer games. I use a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED lens, and set my camera to the sport scene selection mode. I know, I know, go easy on me. My images come out okay, but always seem to be lacking some "punch". What I really want to do is set my camera up from scratch and use those settings as one of the "User" modes (U1 or U2). Can anyone give me some tips as to how I can set my camera to get that great "looking" action shot?
If you look at the very recent post titled "Help With Shooting Ultimate Frisbee" you'll see the camera settings I use on my D700 when shooting daylight sports events. I frequently use the 70-300 VR for such events and usually use f/5.6 as the aperture setting.
After capturing your images what takes place in the editing steps to follow has a lot to do with how much "punch" or appeal they have.
Every 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 lens I've ever used has a much better IQ at f8 that at any other F-stop. On some lenses the difference is amazing.
Your lens focuses fairly fast and turning off the VR will let it focus even faster.
I like to set the aperture AND the ISO and let the shutterspeed float but the key is set an ISO that will easily let you shoot at 1/1000 and faster. YOu need to be careful because the background can throw your exposure off by quite a bit -- I hate artifical turf. Learn the Sunny Rule of f16 if you want to try shooting in the manual mode -- try it during a practice if you can.
Nailing the exposure will also help put snap in your images and the Key with a capital K is hitting the white balance on the nose.
While you're learning, try to always shoot with the sun at your back or at least at a slight angle to get consisent exposures -- you'll see the difference the effect of even a slight camera angle on the correct exposure. My favorite positon is between the end line and the touch line -- I get each team's offense for a half and the end of the field usually has a less cluttered background than the sidelines.
Keep a notebook and when you have an image you like - write the details in your book. Time of day, sky conditions, camera settings, etc - I shoot Club Soccer (Girls U14 ENCL) and keep a book for each of the fields I normally shoot on - it's a good refresher when I haven't been to a field for awhile.
I find that sometimes when I shoot, many of the pictures look very flat. Not a lot of contrast, and very muted color. I love when pictures are slightly saturated. I found that for general shooting, I bump up the sharpness and color saturation in the camera menu. I also go from standard to either natural or vivid. Just yesterday one of the fathers from my daughters soccer team showed up with a pretty impressive lens. Looked like a canon as it was beige/grey. (I don't think any Nikon lenses are that color). It was a 2.8 70-200mm I'm sure. He just posted his pictures on the team website and they look no better than what I shoot, and actually lack that contrasty colorful look that my pictures can have. Maybe he's just an amateur with a lot of money. Ha ha. I'm an amateur with very little money. lol. As soon as I figure out how to post a pic or two, I'll put something up.
I really appreciate all the great advice and tips.
I have found that one of the best things I can do to increase punch is to apply a generous dose of contrast to the image during the editing process. This is especially important where the image is flat and may even have a washed out appearance. This can be done in more than one way. One way is via the Clarity slider in Adobe Camera RAW. Scott Kelby reports that the Adobe engineers toyed with the name "Punch" to describe it because it adds punch to the image. In Photoshop Elements Enhance/Adjust Lighting/Shadows/Highlights there is a slider for increasing midtone contrast. Also in Elements Enhance/Adjust Lighting/Brightness/Contrast there is a slider for increasing contrast. I note that you have two Photoshop programs which no doubt give you the ability to add contrast to your images.
For Picture Controls I chose Standard early on and have stuck with zero settings for Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, and Hue and a 4 setting for Sharpness. Back when I was new to digital photography and naively thought that Ken Rockwell might always know what he was talking about I tried the Vivid setting he prefers, but the results were too garish for me, and I quickly returned to Standard.
There are actually some Nikon lenses that are grey...but rare.
Ah, then Bob gives you some good advice for your post-processing.
You may want to verify that you're creating your images in the sRGB color space for Web posting...if you think you're doing other things correctly. I shoot in AdobeRGB but post in sRGB as most browsers are incapable of displaying AdobeRGB...if you create/save a file in AdobeRGB the colors will look flat/washed out on the Web.
What are you using to post-process?
Chris ===== D300/D3s & more glass than I dare tell the wife
Chris, I am shooting in sRGB. I also don't post process most of my shots unless I find a really good one of my daughter. Then I'll use camera raw and Photoshop. I have PS4 on a macbook, and CS3 on my desktop PC. I usually use CS3 on my PC since I like using a Wacom Cintiq 12wx that's hooked up to it. It was something that I acquired a few years ago for a great price, and is truly an awesome piece of equipment!
I have a tip to share which doesn't seem to be given in the previous replies and which I have learned while shooting soccer: Use Manual exposure if the lighting is constant (i.e., no clouds floating above, the Sun not setting, etc.).
Using Manual is easier than you might think; for example, just take a couple of images using Auto and read the values. Then set those values in the M mode. Or, you might use the indicator and take a few snapshots to adjust it correctly. You may find out that the optimum exposure requires the indicator to show slightly underexposure - or not. Just give it a chance and you won't regret!
There are two major reasons for using Manual setting for sports:
1. The exposure becomes constant from picture to picture. No need to adjust every image separately in post processing. Yes, I read that you don't usually do any post processing but you may want to reconsider that; I find it is very rare to use the original cropping out from the camera.
2. The exposure measured by the camera may fluctuate a lot between shots if the target (e.g., a player) runs in front of a white advertizing board or in front of dark green bushes.
I try to use Manual ALWAYS in soccer unless the lighting goes from sunny to shadow and back all the time.
Here in Finland we play outdoors during winter as well. Please note the difference in light levels in the background :
The only time I ever set exposure values manually for outdoor sports was when I had a D200. This is because if you opted to use auto ISO with the D200 and wanted to set the minimum shutter speed the fastest shutter speed available was only 1/250! The Nikon engineers must have suffered from collective amnesia by forgetting that sports shooters might actually want to use the D200 at shutter speeds higher than 1/250!
Since acquiring a D700 I never shoot outdoor sports manually. Instead I shoot aperture-preferred with auto ISO set to float to 6,400 as needed at 1/640 minimum shutter speed.
When shooting indoor sports like volleyball and basketball where the gym lighting is relatively uniform the length of the court I typically set exposure manually with fixed values for ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
Shooting RAW helps a lot if you need to do any exposure or white balance adjustments when editing images.
Ok, I put a picture up in "my gallery". It's of my daughter's recent High School game. Her team went on to beat their rivals 5-1, fueled by a hat trick scored by my daughter Nicole! This picture is directly from the camera without any post processing at all. It still looks "flat" to me. Any constructive criticism out there? lol.
I notice that this image is from a D90 and not from your new D7000. The image doesn't look flat to me. It does need editing, however. Some of the obvious needs are:
1. Staighten image by a small counterclockwise rotation. 2. Crop image to remove excess material on bottom and on right hand side. 3. Darken highlights to reduce over-exposure of light jerseys. Some lightening of shadows and an increase in midtone contrast should also prove beneficial.
looks like a perfect day to use Manual! If the forrest behind would have affected the exposure, you might have burned the white shirts. You can easily see how much the background affects if you move the camera around - without any particular target - and watch the shutter speed, aperture or ISO readings change along.
Nevertheless, you know that the exposure should be about the same (I'm not talking about the difference between dark and light colored clothes). At least the reading in a lightmeter would have been the same. That's my point of using Manual.
Below is a sample (I admit, taken with shutter priority at that time). What would have happened if the exposure was mainly measured from the dark-colored shirt? Not shown in the small image but shown in 100% magnification: the stitching is not overexposed but still visible in my daughter's white shirt. Having said that, I think it's perfectly alright to have small bits overexposed in pictures with very high dynamic range.