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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Sports Talk 
Thread started 14 May 2009 (Thursday) 19:52
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Tennis Tournament: Backed into a bit of a corner

 
Adama
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May 14, 2009 19:52 |  #1

Hi Guys,

There's a chance that I am going to be shooting a professional tennis tournament in August, the Rogers Cup in Toronto. My gear list is below, and I'm obviously going to have to rent some stuff out. I know my 70-200 is going to be fine for action since I'm going to be court side (I'd have press access to the event) but I have a 300 2.8 rented out just in case. Now, I was going to rent out another Mark III or a Mark II N, but no rental place in the city has a 1D for rent. Imagine that. So I've temporarily decided to rent out the 5D MK II since I am not using it for action shots (I mainly want to use the 300 for extreme close ups), and I'm also getting a 1.4x extender just in case I need the extra range. I really am unsure about this decision since I am so used to shooting action with the 1D now and I wonder if the extra 50mm I get with the 300 is worth even using a second body + lens (the 70-200 is 250mm on APS-H I believe)

I am just curious if you guys have any advice, especially those who have shot tennis before. I considered getting the 50D as my secondary body but the truth is the IQ and resolution on the 5D II is so ridiculously good my HOPE is that I can always crop in post to get that 1.6x reach. And again, I don't need the low shutter lag/high frame rate since this is for close ups and not action.

EDIT: My second thought is just using the extender with the 300 and 5D II. I hear the 1.4x extender works very well with the 300 and I primarily am shooting day games which means plenty of light.


1D Mark III - 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS - 24-70mm f/2.8 L - 50mm f/1.4 - 580EX II
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dmwierz
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May 14, 2009 20:03 |  #2

When I've shot pro tennis, I use my 400 and 70-200. Personally, have gotten WAY more WOW shots with the 400 than with the 70-200.

Here are some with the 400:

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76521368.jpg

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76122258.jpg

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
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IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76452435.jpg

And here are a few with the 70-200:

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76265949.jpg

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76264509.jpg

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76251418.jpg

It depends whether you want full body shots or tight captures. Like I said, I far prefer the close-ups.

In the events I've worked, 3/4 of the shooters use a 400 as their primary lens and something shorter (70-200 or a 300) for the rest of their shots. With the 400, you can not only get shots in the near court, but can shoot across the net. A shorter lens will only allow you to get near court shots.

http://www.denniswierz​bicki.com (external link)
http://www.sportsshoot​er.com/dmwierz (external link)

Dennis "
Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand."

  
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Adama
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May 14, 2009 22:31 |  #3

Sounds like you know what you're doing so I'll definitely keep your advice in mind, thanks for your thoughts.

This is very important for me as it's my first professional assignment and my first opportunity to add professional sports to my portfolio for a potential job shooting pro sports in the fall. I really want to make an impression on my potential employers, and any potential employer really.


1D Mark III - 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS - 24-70mm f/2.8 L - 50mm f/1.4 - 580EX II
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SPORTshot
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May 14, 2009 22:36 |  #4

Congrats on your first assignment Adama and I wish you the best of luck ! I'm an aspiring sports photographer as well. I hope to get an opportunity like you, one of these days.


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rovers_Andy
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May 15, 2009 08:10 |  #5

superb photos Dennis!


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dmwierz
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May 15, 2009 08:15 |  #6

Alex,

It sounds like you're really committed to doing the best you can on this assignment and that's great. Be careful not to put yourself under too much pressure, though.

Do you have any chances to shoot High School or College tennis between now and then? If so, I'd do this as many times as possible. Or even go down to the local tennis courts and learn how to read the game from the proximity of courtside.

You need to get familiar with how to shoot forehands and backhands. A forehand shot typically doesn't look the best when shot across net unless you time it for before or after ball impact, like these images:

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76073314.jpg

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76107878.jpg

Trying for a forehand shot from across the net and ball impact, for example, often ends up with flailing arms like this:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif'


Which I think looks kinda weird.

There are several posts on this board that describe shooting tennis, so give the search feature a try and see what you come up with, then post your images here and see what the members have to say.

You mentioned to me in your email that those familiar with the venue say the 70-200 is all you'll need, and this begs my next question: whom are you shooting for and what are they looking for? I haven't worked a lot of pro tennis, but the events I have covered, there were mostly 400's, both for covering the matches courtside, and especially for working from behind the end lines, like this. No way you're gonna get anything from behind the baseline with a 70-200:

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/76562173.jpg

Is the agency you're shooting for looking for tight close-ups or full body shots? FWIW, I have rarely been told to shoot looser on any assignment and in any sport. In fact, most of the images I have had published were cropped even further before being published, so the Photo Editor ended up wanted the image even tighter than I shot it.

Shooting tennis from the side of the court with a big lens like a 400 may see like overkill, but trust me, it can and is done all the time. First of all, like I said above, if you shoot with a 70-200, you'll be relegating yourself to pretty much only covering the action in the near court - you'll be way to loose to get anything on the other side of the net. Secondly, while a loose shot can always be cropped tighter, you also say the only pro body you'll be able to get is a 1D? That's not a very big file, so relying on cropping to get you tight shots might be more problematic.

Edit: I just realized all the shots I've posted are from the first pro tennis event I covered a couple years back, and this was only a month or so after getting my 400. I went into the event worried that the 400 would be way too long, but after a day or so of practicing (during qualifying) ended up shooting 90% of the matches (and about the same percentage of events subsequent to this one) with the 400. I'll only change to a wider lens if I've already gotten enough close-ups of a given player, to add variety.

Again, don't put too much pressure on yourself. At the end of this or any other day, the quality of the work in your portfolio is way more important than the level you are shooting at.

Here's a link to the ESPN photo wire. It gives you a good idea of how tight to shoot and what types of images are their best (they only submit the best shots from any given match, and of these, typically only the best get published or posted):

http://sports.espn.go.​com/espn/apphoto/wire?​id=850 (external link)

The first time I worked a pro tennis event, I spent hours here, and actually saved dozens of images to my hard drive and put them in a slide show. I watched this slide show over and over again, analyzing where I thought the photographer was positioned, where the ball was, whether they were low or high (some venues have sunken pits on the sides of the courts where you can shoot from), etc. Basically, I tried to reverse-Engineer how each of the shooters worked the match. Then I incorporated what I learned into my first matches I covered, and afterward, compared my shots to the best of what I had seen, and posted here and on another sports board for honest critique.

http://www.denniswierz​bicki.com (external link)
http://www.sportsshoot​er.com/dmwierz (external link)

Dennis "
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Adama
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May 18, 2009 13:39 |  #7

Thanks for the reply Dennis. I think I'm going to rent out the 400 2.8 and a Mark II. Still going to have to decide which lens to mount my Mark III on.

As for your question about what my editor is looking for, I believe just a few great shots with the 70-200 would be good enough. We have three other shooters there so we're not under too much pressure. The truth is they want a few solid images and that's it, maybe 3-4 others if they decide to do a spread for the event. I'm sure they have no issue with me taking out the 400 and will love the shots I take with it, but I am sure they would be content with me just using my 70-200.

What I also want from this event as well are "Wow" images for my portfolio that will stand out so I can get maybe get a job at this image agency that I am looking at (I have a friend there who I've worked with for a year willing to help me out if he thinks my portfolio is worthy of submission). This is going to be my once chance to shoot professional sports before then, everything else I've done so far is community sports work. So I think I'm going to take your advice and go long for this event and use the 70-200 for secondary wide shots.


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dmwierz
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May 18, 2009 16:32 |  #8

Alex,

Got it. IMHO, nothing says "Wow!" more than a 400 shot at close quarters.

Since you're at York University, any chance you can work some of their tennis practices? I notice York's tennis season is in the Fall, but they probably are practicing now, right? To "simulate" a long prime, you could rent/buy a 1.4X TC, slap it on your 70-200 and set it to 200.

Alternately, find a local HS to shoot.

In any event, I'd strongly suggest you not go into the event in August not having worked any tennis. Pro tennis is pretty fast - not impossible to work by any means - but starting any sport at the highest level is kinda tough.


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http://www.sportsshoot​er.com/dmwierz (external link)

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T2000
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May 25, 2009 22:33 |  #9
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Consider renting the same body not primarily to have a second lens handy but to have in the event your camera fails. It happens.

--------
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Adama
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Jul 23, 2009 11:54 |  #10

Hi guys,

I think Dennis is out of town or busy so he hasn't been able to get back to me about an interesting question I had. I notice a lot of pro photographers sometimes hand pick their fast shutter speeds to ensure they freeze the player but retain some motion blur in the tennis ball and sometimes the racket. Is this actually intentional? If so, do you guys think this is a good technique? I find it to always look a bit awkward...but then that's because I know the cause of it and it's usually something I was taught to avoid.

Also, I had my credentials confirmed earlier this week and I've been shooting amateur tennis like crazy. Very excited :)


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Jul 23, 2009 19:57 |  #11

Adama wrote in post #8330802 (external link)
Hi guys,

I think Dennis is out of town or busy so he hasn't been able to get back to me about an interesting question I had. I notice a lot of pro photographers sometimes hand pick their fast shutter speeds to ensure they freeze the player but retain some motion blur in the tennis ball and sometimes the racket. Is this actually intentional? If so, do you guys think this is a good technique? I find it to always look a bit awkward...but then that's because I know the cause of it and it's usually something I was taught to avoid.

Also, I had my credentials confirmed earlier this week and I've been shooting amateur tennis like crazy. Very excited :)

That ball is moving at over 100mph at times and the racket is moving nearly that fast. That is 1742 inches per second. With a shutter speed of 1/3200s, that ball/racket head is still moving around 1/2 inch while the shutter is open. Even at 1/6400s they're moving about 1/4 of an inch.


When you're that close to something that is moving that fast, sometimes you just don't have enough light to get a shutter speed high enough to completely freeze it, especially when the sun gets below the rim of the stadium.

There's nothing wrong with a little bit of motion in a sports photo.


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bps
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Jul 23, 2009 22:20 |  #12

Good grief Dennis. Your work is incredible!

Bryan


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Adama
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Jul 24, 2009 13:24 |  #13

Ah, thanks DDCSD. Makes sense, I feel silly for asking now actually.


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dmwierz
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Jul 25, 2009 11:54 |  #14

Adama wrote in post #8330802 (external link)
Hi guys,

I think Dennis is out of town or busy so he hasn't been able to get back to me about an interesting question I had. I notice a lot of pro photographers sometimes hand pick their fast shutter speeds to ensure they freeze the player but retain some motion blur in the tennis ball and sometimes the racket. Is this actually intentional? If so, do you guys think this is a good technique? I find it to always look a bit awkward...but then that's because I know the cause of it and it's usually something I was taught to avoid.

Also, I had my credentials confirmed earlier this week and I've been shooting amateur tennis like crazy. Very excited :)

Sorry, I must have missed your question, Alex, and yes, I've also been busy. Derek's got it right that, even with the highest speed shutter you're still likely to show some motion blur, but some of the "blurriness" on the shots I posted was the result of shooting wide open with a 400 f/2.8 lens - the depth of field is pretty shallow, and often the ball is outside of this margin.

Plus, I agree that some motion is OK. Somewhere I have some tennis shots taken around 1/2500s (I've found this is a good ss to relatively "stop" the motion of the player and the bat/racquet/stick and allow the ball/puck/thing to show some degree of motion blur that imparts a good sense of speed) but I can't seem to find them at the moment.

In another sport, here's an image many of you have seen before that, in all honesty, I think is more of a freak shot than a great sports action shot, however it's been wildly popular and even was voted an award as "Best Sports Shot of the Year - Amateur, College and Pro 2007" category a couple years ago on another sports forum (thank you very much). The only real reason my shutter speed was at 1/8000s is it was a partly cloudy day at Miller Park and I was shooting Av mode. Right before Ramirez took this swing, the Sun burst through the clouds and drove my shutter speed from a more reasonable 1/2500s to a ridiculous 1/8000s which resulted in this shot that would be more appropriate in a book on the Physics of Baseball than on the sports page.

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/80218360.jpg
1/8000s f/2.8 at 400.0mm iso400

Same sport, same situation (batter). In my opinion, this shot is a better sports shot, as it gives a good inference of the motion of Wily Mo Pena's bat (and all the pieces) and the ball.

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/dmwierz45/image/75297386.jpg
1/2500s f/4.0 at 560.0mm iso800

Hope this helps a bit.

Dennis

http://www.denniswierz​bicki.com (external link)
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Adama
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Jul 26, 2009 10:57 |  #15

It does Dennis, thanks again for replying!

On an unrelated note (sort 0f) I have to say that first image is awesome in terms of color, sharpness, and contrast considering that the lens is wide open. I really can't wait to get my hands on The Beast (400 2.8 :)


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