Shooting the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with Nikon D4 and Sigma 120-300mm w/ 2X converter

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

I wanted to share some of the photos I captured from the Chick-fil-A Kickoff this year where Auburn defeated Louisville 31 to 24.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600

There are a couple things that helped me get some what I thought nice moments.

Camera Settings:  To see these go to blog post on them here 

  • Custom White Balance with ExpoDisc
  • AUTO ISO
    • ISO range 100 – 12800 on Nikon D4
    • Minimum Shutter Speed 1/2000 – The shutter will drop below 1/2000 once the ISO maxes out at ISO 12800
  • Continuous High Shutter Release
  • Focus
    • Continuous
    • Focus Point Selection – 21-point dynamic-area AF
    • Focus Tracking with Lock On set to 4
    • AF activation and choose “AF-ON only.” This means when I press the shutter it will not focus the lens.  It will only fire the camera. 
    • To focus I am using the AF-ON button on the back of the Nikon D4.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
A few of the other photographers who are used to shooting night games at the Georgia Dome all were using their teleconverters since this was a daytime game. The arena has what is like a large white sheet over the dome giving a diffused daylight across the field.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000
The lights they use for night games were on as well for the game. So my White Balance was 4250º Kelvin and +29 Magenta.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600
I enjoy shooting from the end zone as much as I can so using the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S with the Sigma TC-2001 2x gave me a 240-600mm ƒ/5.6 lens.
It was ultra quick at locking in on focus and tracking players as they moved across the field.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250
To get this and many of the photos you are seeing I was tracking with a player and would start shooting just about the time say a pass was to hit their hands and motor drive through in case of anything like miss to catch could happen.
Click on image to see larger version
Here is the take on that particular image above. Everyone of the images was sharp and usable.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000

Before the “Big Game” shoot the “Small Game”

What I am recommending is to go to the community recreation center in your town or local high school and shoot with the same gear getting used to it. If you rent a camera or lens, pick it up so maybe you can squeeze in a Friday night game before the “Big Game” on Saturday or Sunday.
Missed shots are more related to how well you know your gear than anything else. Be sure you are getting all you can out of the gear. Don’t blame the gear when it might be your knowledge of how to use your gear is really the problem.