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Thread started 20 Jun 2012 (Wednesday) 21:50
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Competitive Badminton (your critics and comments!)

 
onemoresmash
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Jun 20, 2012 21:50 |  #1

I just did a badminton shoot last weekend at the North Shore Open at Chicago. Critics and comments are MORE THAN WELCOME because I am still learning! ;)

For those who are not familiar with “real” badminton, it is a very fast pace sport (world record of fastest smash was clocked at 421km/h). Aperture and ISO were permanently at 2.8 and 3200, SS ranging from 1/160 to 1/500 because of the changing lights.

The lighting was tough. The relatively low ceiling and scattered strong lights make exposing difficult because the light is different at every spot (like literally changes as the player moves if you know what I mean), but the overall lighting is weak. Anyone has any suggestion for this situation?

I used the 70-200 most of the time because I want to compress the hell out of the background. The background is just so distracting…
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rick_reno
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Jun 21, 2012 09:04 |  #2

very nice, certainly not a sport we see here often. love 1,2 and the last one, great action and got the intensity they play with perfectly.




  
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dude+cam
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Jun 21, 2012 10:59 |  #3

IMO, Badminton is one of the toughest sports to photograph (not only in technical terms). I agree with what you said that badminton background is my #1 concern when photographing this sport. And this is always dependent on the venue. Some venues will have bleacher type seating and I would prefer to shoot from the top of the bleachers shooting down on an angle pre-focusing on the players face and producing clean background. The only time I would be on eye level is when I find an angle that will produce a clean background.




  
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onemoresmash
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Jun 22, 2012 22:15 |  #4

Thanks for the positive comments! But no criticisms from anyone? Certainly the shots are not perfect.... :(


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Nature ­ Nut
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Jun 22, 2012 22:39 |  #5

The action is captured very well based on the situation. The only criticism would be trying to find angles with a less busy background, but that's is often impossible at indoor events. Some shots have the audience facing away and it kind of diverts the attention from your subject in focus. Your first two shots show them engaged in your subject and the third show them facing away like they don't care about your subject. like everyone says, the action is great. So the only thing I could point out is the background composition, which is often beyond remediation in such events.


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John ­ Godwin
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Jun 22, 2012 23:28 as a reply to  @ onemoresmash's post |  #6

The lighting looks like it might have been more consistent than what you described. I would suspect that your use of aperture and or shutter priority along with going from spot to center weighted metering was why it seemed that the lighting was changing. If the lighting was changing as you said then pick an area that the light is consistent and shoot manual instead of aperture or shutter priority at that location. Expose for the face not the uniform or background.

Out of focus people in the foreground should be avoided at all costs.

It looks like badminton is primarily a vertical sport therefore shoot vertical instead of horizontal and shoot tighter and then crop tighter. You want to get rid of anything that does not help tell the story in the photo.


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onemoresmash
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Jun 23, 2012 00:21 |  #7

John Godwin wrote in post #14619313 (external link)
The lighting looks like it might have been more consistent than what you described. I would suspect that your use of aperture and or shutter priority along with going from spot to center weighted metering was why it seemed that the lighting was changing. If the lighting was changing as you said then pick an area that the light is consistent and shoot manual instead of aperture or shutter priority at that location. Expose for the face not the uniform or background.

Out of focus people in the foreground should be avoided at all costs.

It looks like badminton is primarily a vertical sport therefore shoot vertical instead of horizontal and shoot tighter and then crop tighter. You want to get rid of anything that does not help tell the story in the photo.

What I meant by changing light was that the light changed while I didn't change the setting.

I first shot in manual, but it didn't work because the metering bar jumps around a lot as I follow the players on court (reason explain later), then I switch to AV. It gave me more consistent results but some shots are still off. I also shot with spot metering at first (like I used to, that used to give me good exposure in other gyms), but I found it didn't work at this venue so I tried center weighted which worked a little bit better. Thus, the latter part of the shoot was done with AV and center weighted. (But I would say, no matter what setting I tried, at least 1/3 of the shots of that particular setting need exposure adjustment later by quite a good amount).

As for the lighting (see pic below), the venue has scattered strong lights (and the ceiling is not relatively high). The players move around, if a player is underneath a set of lights, he/she brightens up, and vice-versa (thus I found spot metering and M mode didn't work).

And yea, probably one of the reasons of the off exposure is that sometimes I focused on the body (and thus metered there). They moved so fast and unexpected so tracking their heads was tough.

Thanks.

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Aithon
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Jun 23, 2012 10:48 |  #8
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Great shots, the background takes away for the greatness of the shots though.




  
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Nukehed
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Jun 23, 2012 11:26 |  #9

Do you know any of the players? If so, have them stand for you while you take a few test shots and get the exposure for their faces correct. You could meter off of your hand and use that as a basis for face exposure.

If you're interested in shooting more badminton, go to the venue and walk around scouting locations to shoot from and metering the light in those locations.

>Out of focus people in the foreground should be avoided at all costs.

A good rule for sports photography. As always, don't be afraid to break rules. In my opinion there are times when a OOF person in the foreground is acceptable.


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joeblack2022
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Jun 25, 2012 14:39 |  #10

Nice work, doesn't look like an easy sport to shoot!


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Jun 25, 2012 19:58 |  #11

Here is some honest criticism that will help you grow and improve as a shooter:

Shoot looser, crop tighter - You have some cut off limbs and horizons that cannot be straightened without cutting off body parts. Cropping tighter will help remove some of the distractions in the background and really make your subjects pop out more.

Your timing is off. I kept finding myself searching around for the birdies. In a racquet sport, they should be near the racket or the hands.

Try for the full front of the face, not a side profile, especially not a 1/4 view from behind. Sometimes this is unavoidable given a neat bit of action, but for the most part, try to avoid it.

Exposure wise, you will find that shooting at a relatively constant shutter will net you more consistent results. Unless you are on deadline (meaning no time to make adjustments in post), hunting exposure based on lights that are inconsistent in terms of placement, intensity, and cycle rates will force your focus on that instead of on what you are shooting. Most of the changes are within 1 stop, so you should be safe to massage your images in post.


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flickserve
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Jun 27, 2012 02:23 |  #12

Welcome to the practical difficulties of shooting badminton.

1. WB - I go for RAW. Some of my friends will shoot jpeg and use expodisc. WB may change with the position you sit at. I always forget to change WB and so use RAW correcting for WB in LR. It does mean I need bigger HDD space.

2. Exposure - yes, ISO3200 is probably the norm. You've found the shutter speed can drop to 1/160th @ f2.8 which is really too low. It is worth having a 85/1.8 in the bag for these situation and the USM is a big bonus. The 50/1.4 is harder to use as the USM is not as good. I set manual to fire a few test shots, reset the settings and fine tune exposure in LR. As you move position, you need to recheck exposure settings.

3. Background - yes, a big problem. Using the 85 at f2.0 will help a lot as will tighter framing by zooming to the long end of your 70-200. If it's the 70-200 f2.8 USM, then that's a good lens which I use a lot from the end of the court.

This is an uncropped picture with the 70-200 2.8 USM

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However, many times I am cropping the shot a lot in post processing to try to avoid distracting backgrounds (e.g. people eating or drinking especially at the amateur tournaments)

This is an example of a tightly cropped shot

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Less tightly cropped with the words in the background

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The shuttle doesn't have to be always in the shot. This picture breaks some of the rules...
no shuttle, foreground has the out of focus opponent (admittedly only a small amount). It depends what you think will add to the picture.

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Getting two people in the shot is much harder

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Just to show it's not all good, this is one from a few years ago. If I were to do this again, I would crop more off the top. I'd keep the front two rows as they are focused on the action. How much of the foreground out of focus person should be shown? I don't know - I preferred to show her because of the body posture and shuttle.

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Jun 27, 2012 09:52 |  #13

flickserve wrote in post #14638091 (external link)
Welcome to the practical difficulties of shooting badminton...

Nice shots of Canadian players in 2, 3 and 4. Toby Ng (#2) and Michelle Li (#3) are both heading to the London Olympics. I have a number of shots of Michelle in that very same pose.

Having photographed a number of sports, I can honestly say that badminton is probably the toughest to shoot. Not taking into account the speed of play, there's poor lighting, cycling lights, coloured courts that also throw off white balance, limited shooting positions and cluttered backgrounds. It's definitely not easy.


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Jun 27, 2012 18:37 |  #14

Thanks everyone. I appreciate every comment!

I have considered the 85mm too, but I found when shooting at most local tournaments, the only shooting position is at the side of the courts. That means you are shooting the players at ~45 degree. If I shoot the near side, 85mm would be too long on a crop camera. If I shoot the far side, the net pole will be in the way most of the time. And because the courts are adjacent to each other, there are only at a few courts where you can stand at the court end. And if you play local tournaments, you will know that no every court has exciting actions...(just a rant for the lack of proper badminton facilities in the US :P)


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Jun 27, 2012 20:05 |  #15

Wow.


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Competitive Badminton (your critics and comments!)
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