Covering Football: Action, Reaction and more

Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 28735, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

ACTION!

The most obvious photos from a football game are the action during the game. If you only shoot this you will miss a good amount of what the game is all about.

Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600

REACTION

The fans really care about the game and the outcome. Don’t spend all your time looking at the action on the field look into the stands for the reaction to plays.

Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Go back and shoot more action. It is best to get the big plays. It is the time in between plays that you can turn the camera away from the field.

Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/800
A lot happens in those stands. Keep your ears tuned in around you as well as your eyes.
Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000
After major touchdowns many schools cheerleaders have traditions of celebrating on sideline or like here in the endzone.
Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
After big plays like this one you will find fans reacting.  Sometimes you will see coaches on the sidelines interacting with the referees.  
Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 28735, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
The idea is if you are at a game it is a big event with a lot of people doing different things and roles.
Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 18102, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
There are the bands that perform before the game, during the game and at half time. They practice as much as the football team. It is a major performance for them.
Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
Not so obvious
Nikon D4,  Nikon 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 560, ƒ/5.6, 1/100
I take photos of people on sidelines that I work with during games. I try and then send them a copy of the photo. This helps to build relationships so that the next game when I need some help with access these friends are now seeing me as someone they want to help.
Look for different angles
Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600
I like to go up into or onto press boxes to get a different perspective of the game. Don’t shoot all the action from the same position the entire game. On the other hand don’t move around so much that you are missing action because you are always moving.
Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/800
Hopefully you will have editors cheering with your coverage. The key is to give them variety and hopefully these tips will have you looking for different photos at your next football game.
Nikon D4,  Nikon 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 4000, ƒ/9, 1/200
Don’t leave early
Stay shooting after the game. There are still photos to be made.

Nikon D4,  Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

ISO 51200 & 25600 with Sigma 120-300mm on Nikon D4

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Chick-fil-A Kickoff

Last night I had the privilege to shoot the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Ole Miss and Boise State. Ole Miss pulled away in the second half from Boise State for a 35—13 victory.

I was enjoying shooting with my Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM. I added also to my gear a Sigma 2x converter, which I used giving me a 600mm ƒ/5.6 lens. The photo above was made with that combination.

Yin-Yang

Photography has as much to do with Yin-Yang than anything I have ever encountered.

Yin-Yang are concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

When you change any one of these three you must adjust one of the other to keep a proper exposure. This is the trade-off made all the time in photography.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, ISO 16000, ƒ/4, 1/2000

Sports Settings

Here are my default sports settings for a game with these three:

  • Aperture—While I love the bokeh at wide open, I tend to shoot around ƒ/4 or ƒ/5.6
  • Shutter Speed—1/2000 If the highest ISO is reached, then any need of more light the shutter speed will drop below 1/2000 when using the Auto ISO settings.
  • ISO—Auto ISO 100-12800, but for some of this game 100-51200
Warning about using Auto ISO—you cannot use manual and keep a constant setting. The meter will adjust the ISO up and down. If you want to truly shoot Manual Mode then you must turn off the Auto ISO.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, ISO 7200, ƒ/2.8, 1/2000
I love the Bokeh on the Sigma 120-300mm and with the Ole Miss dancer opened up to ƒ/2.8. For action I find while I love the ƒ/2.8 I prefer a little more depth-of-field to keep them tact sharp.

Here are more examples with the settings showing in the lower left hand corner for you.

Click here to see the photos in slide show larger.

Photographers need repetition to grow

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/7.1, 1/125, EV -1.7

My bird feeders are teaching me a great deal these days. The feeder doesn’t change day to day but the light and the birds do.

This past weekend I observed we had a lot of fledglings. Fledge is the stage in a young bird’s life when the feathers and wing muscles are sufficiently developed for flight. It also describes the act of a chick’s parents raising it to a fully grown state.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/420, EV -1.3

Here I watched the House Finch feeding the Fledgling. It was just fun watching this take place and so I decided I would pull out the cameras and photograph them. The combining of one interest with another really enhances the experience.

When I started the photos were horribly over exposing. I was shooting in aperture mode. I had Auto ISO chosen with a minimum shutter speed setting of 1/500.  I compensated the exposure by turning the EV to -1.7 and would fine tune it here and there based on the histogram.

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm was pretty slow with a ƒ/3.5-4.8 aperture. I was getting pretty good results, but we had rain coming down most of the weekend and I thought this was a great time to test the new Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/320 EV 0

With the Red Bellied Woodpecker I was not having to use the exposure value compensation and got wonderful detail in the feathers.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens + Sigma 1.4 converter, ISO 4500, ƒ/6.3, 1/500 EV -1.3

However when the darker Downy Woodpecker visited the feeder I had to compensate the EV -1.3.

I was having fun and the thing is while I was having fun I was also learning how to check the exposure from bird to bird because that will affect the exposure. I could have tried the manual exposure, but the light was changing as the sun would peek through a little and then disappear.

I also enjoyed shooting with the faster ƒ/2.8. I was able to add the Sigma 1.4 converter when I photographed the Downy Woodpecker and get just a little closer to 420mm.

I was also learning about the birds. I downloaded the Peterson’s guide to my iPad and enjoyed finding out the names of the birds. At first I thought I had a Hairy Woodpecker, but that is a bigger bird with a longer bill.

Taking photographs allowed me to have the time to zoom in and really examine the bird in detail. Too often they come and go on the bird feeder too quickly for me to study.

Now you know why so many birders are also photographers.

Do you have something you can photograph this regularly and see how your camera reacts in different light and also help you grow? If not I really recommend you look. I found mine in my backyard.