Stanley’s Tune Up Ritual for the Football Season

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

This past Friday Night and during the day on Saturday I went through a tune-up. There are basically two parts to the tune up.

First I have bought new cameras since the last football game and needed to calibrate the lens to the camera body.

This is a photo I took when I talked about how to calibrate your lenses in an earlier blog post. Take a look here if you want a refresher on how to do this.

Today’s top end cameras and lenses are designed for the user to optimize the focusing through calibrating the focus point. I use LensAlign and here is a great video explaining how it works.
So I spent a number of hours doing this with my cameras and lenses. Now I shoot with a Sigma 120-300mm lens and recommend you look at that blog post where I explain how I calibrated the lens using Sigma Optimization Pro software coupled with the Sigma USB docking station to calibrate the lens. I also use it to calibrate my Sigma 24-105mm Art and Sigma 35mm Art lens.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 720, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

The second thing I do each year is to go out and shoot some football games before my first job shooting a game. This year I went to the Catholic High School near me and shot their home varsity game on Friday night and then shot their 7th grade team playing the next morning.

Now before actually taking photos of the game I set my Nikon D5 camera up for shooting the game. Here is a blog post going through all the settings and explaining this is great detail for those who have a Nikon D5 and want to see my settings for sports. Here are my settings for the Nikon D4.

Let me tell you that the Nikon D5 was a definite upgrade over the Nikon D4. When shooting on high speed motor drive of 12 frames per second I can say it looked more like an old time movie. You could still see the action through the mirror because of the speed of the camera. Very cool!!!!.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 720, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

For those of you who are just starting out shooting sports like your child’s games, don’t just go and shoot their games when getting started. Go and practice at the local recreation center and get used to following the action and keeping it in focus. I use the back focus button so I can then improve my chances of getting in focus photos. You need to try my setup to see what I mean.

Honestly being able to just walk up and start shooting a kids game like I did this weekend is so much more relaxing than getting to a game two hours early that you must do when shooting Division 1 college and when shooting the NFL.

Another thing with shooting for fun is if you want to stop you can. When shooting professionally you must arrive early and stay to the very end. Now if you want to get hired to shoot professionally then you need to learn why we get there early and stay late.

Rather than telling you what we shoot when we arrive early and stay late–let me challenge you to arrive early and stay late and try and make compelling photos around the entire game.

Have you tuned up for this football season?