so let me guess you just bought a brand
new fancy digital SLR camera you took it to your kids hockey game and your shots
are all blurry or they’re really really dark but hey you paid extra for the
telephoto lens so what’s what’s going on here well if you haven’t guessed
shooting in out in low-light action shots are extremely challenging you
don’t have a whole lot of light to work with which you’d need a lot of light for
higher shutter speeds high-speed action so you’re trying to stop that action
with higher shutter speeds you don’t have any control over the lights the
lights are kind of what they are and sometimes you’re gonna have to shoot
through glass and it makes very very very difficult shooting but the good
news is you’ve got very consistent light usually my experiences as hockey rinks
have been very very well lit and the ice reflects light very well so it’s like
being in a big giant giant light box and of course there’s always lots of action
something going on in in in hockey all right so let’s first talk a little bit
about the camera equipment here you’re gonna have to have a a digital SLR
point-and-shoot cameras just don’t give you the control that you’re going to
need namely control over the exposure program whether it’s manual aperture
priority or or shutter priority you’re also going to have to have control over
white balance although I do tend to shoot a lot in automatic white balance
but you might need to deviate from that and of course something with very very
fast show low shutter lag times I shoot a Canon 7d it’s a 59 millisecond shutter
lag time which is very very fast so by the time when I push a little button
down by the time the exposures taken a very short amount of period of time has
passed if you have a Nikon camera don’t fret they make fine equipment as well
just look at your owner’s manual and see what your shutter lag times are I can’t
give you a rule of thumb for what is too slow although you can never have too
fast the other thing is the frames per second
my camera’s about eight frames per second which sometimes I’ll run it in a
machine gun mode which I call machine gun mode rapid succession sometimes I
don’t so that’s the other things you’re gonna want to do is get a camera with a
very fast frames per second Lenz’s this is probably the most
important thing look at the front of your lens and where you see that 1 : 1.4
if it says something 13.5 or 5.6 or what a 4.5 that is your problem right 1 your
shots are so dark your lens just isn’t fast enough and what they mean by what I
mean by fast lens is the the diameter of a hole in the lens it should be visibly
get the lower the number the larger the hole the more light that goes in fast
your shutter speed times and all that kind of kind of good stuff these lenses
aren’t cheap though fast lenses if you go to Best Buy or go to your just a
local camera store they’re probably going to sell you consumer grade lenses
something around like a 70 to 75 to 300 4.5 to 5.6 lens for a few hundred bucks
you think it’s a good deal it just isn’t going to be fast enough it might be okay
for outdoor daylight soccer or something like that but indoor stuff you can you
can forget it you’re just not going to be able to to use it as you the little
green light or graph here’s the zoom lenses by the way now if you get down to
something like a 70 to 200 to 2.8 it’s pretty expensive it’s about a 1314 or
nirmala lens but it’s perfect focal length for for hockey 2.8 is the slowest
you really want to get for indoor action sports photography if you don’t have a
big budget there’s something called a a prime lens it’s a fixed focal length
lens I’ve got a 100 millimeter 2.8 which is a little short for hockey but it’s a
fixed length so you’re not gonna be able to zoom in and zoom out and all that
good stuff but it was right around $600 and that’s a final alternative a 50
millimeter 1.4 that’s my other favorite lens it’s really not long enough for
hockey if you’re far away but for about 300 dollars the optical quality is is
it’s excellent and they’re very very fast lens mean they let a lot of light
in so depending out what your budget is if you can afford a 70 to 200 that’s the
lens you really want to get 2.8 of course also you want to get a long lens
it’s long enough just to tighten up your shot I see a lot of people going out
there with these 300 millimeter lenses because that’s what came
they’re their package and they’re trying to zoom way in on the hockey players
face and see if they can catch the facial expressions you can forget it
that’s just not going to happen it move the action is way too fast you’re never
going to be able to zoom in that close my recommendations are getting older
ones and and get a larger area of the shot a larger field of view and then
crop in in the software and I’ll see what that looks like in just a few
minutes here some camera settings if you’d like to work in what I call the
green mode or the program mode or the fully automatic mode II you’re gonna
have to get your camera off of that you’re gonna have to shoot in my 99
percent what I shoot in for sports is manual mode you have to set your camera
up it’s kind of a pain I’ll show you how to do that in a second or or AV mode let
the camera figure out one of the of the variables meaning aperture shutter speed
or or ISO manual is the best way to go the metering mode spot is the best if
you’re in AV mode but it’s irrelevant in manual white balance automatic white
balance tends to work well in in hockey rinks at least for me at it does and of
course ISO you want to start low as low as you can get but increase it depends
on what your camera is capable of doing you might get higher noise levels or
that grainy ugly effect when you’re using higher ISOs and of course spot
focusing this is the most important thing here is to get your camera off of
that liji let me make the decision on where the focal point is and figure it
out from there you want to control that and have the ultimate control of that
spot focusing is really the only way to do that so this graph right here is a
relationship between aperture and shutter shutter speed any camera will
produce these things the numbers are going to vary based on the lighting
conditions these are approximate what I get in a in a hockey rink the curves
that you see here are different ISO curves so the the top teal colored one
is ISO 6400 and you can see it’s AF 2.8 the very bottom of the graph you follow
that line all the way up at 6400 I’ll get about 1/4 thousandth of a second
which is nice stop action type probably too much stop action shutter speed but
the noise is so high 400 that it’s almost a throwaway shot so
basically no matter where you are on any one of these curves here your exposure
is gonna be the exact same the key here is the lower the ISO the cleaner the
shot the the the higher the shutter speed generally the more stop action
that you’re going to have so what I’ve got here is the the dark blue line that
you see the very bottom the 200 millimeter if you’re using a 200
millimeter lens on a 1.6 crop factor camera that’s your minimum shutter speed
so basically the rule is 1 over the focal length times your crop factor so
if you’re on a 200 millimeter lens you’re gonna need a 1 over 320 second
just to stop the effects of handshake so what I’ll do is I will sort of mentally
build an envelope of my of my exposure range so first thing is I’m not a 2.8
lens so anything in the green is could be valid I’m on a 200 millimeter lens so
everything above that graph or that deadline is a valid exposure and I don’t
really like to shoot anything above 32 hundred or even 6400 so that’s my
envelope of exposure right there now my camera does go up to twelve thousand
eight hundred but I never shoot up they’re just too noisy so anywhere in
this green area here is a gonna be a correctly exposed type of a shot so how
do I set my camera up generally I will go to AV mode first I’ll set my camera
say 5.6 just pick a number out of the air and at ISO 3200 make a number out of
the air what is your shutter speed say or what is your camera say it’s going to
be in this particular example it’ll be one over five hundredths of a second
I’ll take a look at the exposure I’ll take a look at the the action and is it
too blurry is it too grainy so on and so forth I’ll make an adjustment there
generally I’ll drop down to perhaps f/4 to get the shutter speed a little bit
higher still at ISO 3200 same exposure here and I’ll take a look
at the other shot it’s a stop action a little bit better is it is it grainy so
on and so forth I might realize it’s 64 3200 it’s just a bit too grainy so I
will drop my ISO down to say 1600 and that’s gonna require me to drop my
aperture down to 2.8 and still at a thousandth of a second and I might take
a look at that and it might be a little bit too stop-action I mean the puck is
frozen in the air you really can’t see any of the action that’s going on so I
might drop my camera bout down to UM to f4 at 1600 and one five hundredth of a
second same exposure but just a slightly different effect where you’re gonna get
a little bit more blur in your action shots I’ll play around with these values
this is before I see anybody before the actual faceoff so when people are doing
test shots or when they’re out there you know doing their introductory
introduction type things this is what I’m setting my camera up and making very
close paying close attention to the shutter speed and the nose and so on and
so forth once I let the camera figure out what the shutter speed is I will
dial all the stuff in manually the reason being I go manual is there might
be a certain part of the the rink that’s got a little bit higher light or you
might catch a little bit more the background if you let your camera figure
all that out and take that into account it may change your your exposure and
ruin the actual subject that you’re trying to capture so some examples of
stop-action if you crank your shutter speed or you get your shutter speed too
high it’s gonna freeze everything and this is a this is a typical problem that
I see with people doing action shots they crank the shutter speed way up and
this I know this isn’t a hockey shot here but the soccer ball is frozen the
hair is frozen the shirts are frozen it looks like everything was all painted in
place looks very mixed freakish actually you want some kind of blur in there
however if you have your shutter speed too low you know the action on the hula
hoop is just perfect but the girl is starting to blur a
little bit because the shutter speed is one thirtieth of a second that’s just
way too low so generally the as I mentioned earlier the minimum shutter
speed that you need to counteract handshake is 1 divided by the focal
length times the crop factor my camera is a one point six body and this is a
hundred millimeter now this is 24 millimeter wide angle lens times one
point six and that gets you to a little bit above 1/3 if maybe one fiftieth of a
second that’s just a counteract hand shake not won’t stop the girl won’t
stop the hula-hoop it’ll escape my my heartbeat my breathing and everything
else from blurring the shot I probably would have cranked this up to a little
bit higher I like the blur of the hula hoop but everything else is a little bit
too blurry for my taste you can see the the the goalie there is is frozen no pun
intended the hockey pucks got a little bit of a
blur to it probably not enough but it’s not bad you can start to see the effects
of the of the action there this is probably out of thousands of a second
here if I remember right same thing here this is around a thousandth of a second
everybody’s frozen except for the hockey stick for that player doing the slap
shot and this is actually the right amount of blur maybe a little bit more
could be better but it’s close enough for for all practical purposes some
people like to run in machine gun mode and I see this all the time as go up
there and they’ll just hit push the shutter speed and they’ll take ten shots
in a row and go throw away the nine that are hopefully good I’m not a fan of that
I’ve been doing this for 35 years I’ve just learned how to time my shots if I
would have had machine gun mode on I would have never got that Jeff Bend as
it was hitting that I know this isn’t hockey here as well but this is one of
those things that it’s my humble opinion but just take your time and learn how to
time your shots and just don’t let the camera guess at or let fate make the
decision on when you’re gonna get this shot learn how to time it and get the
puck going the goal or leaving the stick or in this case the joust hitting the
other player focus point this is probably the most important part about
getting any kind of action shots whether you’re shooting hockey or basketball or
so on and so forth you got to use spot focusing you can forget it if you’re
using anything else what cameras will do an automatic mode is they will say they
will try to figure out what your focus point is they’ll get something in the
foreground something in the background something to the left maybe something to
the right I don’t know pick something and it’ll average all of those outs so
you could imagine getting the focal point between the the player in the
foreground the player in the background maybe the the background way off in the
that little yellow band around the the ice rink average is that the focal point
is going to be you know 10 15 feet behind the
players and it’s just bad so you want to pick a focal point that is in a high
contrast area that’s the other key thing as cameras need contrast to to focus the
challenges is what happens if you move your camera a little bit off or the
actions happening so fast and you focus but you missed getting the jersey or the
glove or whatever your shots are gonna be extremely blurry because it’s
focusing on something now in the in the absolute background so what I’ll
typically do is I will focus on something near the very bottom of the
player like their skate and if I happen to move the camera off a little bit and
I catch the back skate at least I still catching something relatively close to
the the the subject and if even if I move way far and I get the player in the
back I get their skate I still have generally a pretty close
point of focus now if I were shooting like soccer or
something I’ll definitely get the foot because if I actually get the ground
which is generally contrast enough you’re gonna get a right right focus
spot every time it’s hard to do that in hockey because if you move it a little
bit too far to the left you’re gonna get the ice and the camera will never focus
so you have to play around a little bit on where your spot focus is but key
thing is you’re gonna have to use spot focus and you’re gonna have to find a
place I might my opinions near the very bottom of the player that way if you if
you get in the wrong spot at least you’re gonna get one of their skates or
possibly the other player in the back let’s talk a little bit about depth of
field one of these mysterious concepts a lot a lot of do people don’t quite
understand there’s a couple of things there’s one is the the distance to the
subject and you’re gonna focus on them and at the point of focus there’s a
depth of field the stuff that’s got to be in focus in front the foreground or
in back the the background that’s called the depth of field it’s a very very
narrow band of of distance that you have to focus in so if your players are
sitting there subject one subject to in subject 3 you focus on subject 1 they’re
gonna be in focus but subject 2 is starting to UM to exit that depth of
field so part of them will be in focus part of them will not be in focus also
this is not a it’s a I call it a depth of field plane actually that little
dotted line there so anything on that dotted line
is going to be in in focus even subject freeway off to the left which is clearly
a longer distance to the subject is still going to be in in focus so if you
ever want to test what this looks like go outside and take a picture of a brick
wall focus on the center of it and then in software pixel peep the far corners
and if those are in focus you’ve got a pretty good quality lens here and this
is actually a very very good quality lens that I’m taking this test with you
this is the infamous brick wall test that people use to test quality of
lenses that’s the same thing this is the the wall is actually your focal or your
your depth of field plane as I as I call it now so what happens is your subjects
may be skating around and you’ve got subject one that’s moving to say the
left and maybe getting a little bit closer and you’re sitting in one spot
you’re rotating your cam around to kind of track them and so your distance of
the subject is still the same this is means if you keep your finger halfway
pressed down locking the exposure program in the in the focal distance if
you if you don’t have it pressed down your cameras gonna have to refocus it
but this is just assuming that gets your finger pressed halfway down you’ve
locked in and subject one in the first position skating off to the left and
you’re rotating it carefully to UM to kind of track that subject one notice
your your your depth of field plane is always going to be normal to your camera
or perpendicular to your camera and that depth of field doesn’t change so now
subject to is now me perhaps in the foreground he’s got to be blurry subject
three is way out of that depth of field so he’ll be blurry but at least subject
one will be in in focus so if your subject or your um your uh your subjects
are going sort of kind of off to the left or off to the right and you focused
on subject one and they’re skating off to the left and you rotate to see them
and they’re now out of your field of view or your depth of field I should say
there nobody’s going to be in a focus here so if they’re going too far away
from you you’re gonna have to instantaneous a cache finger off the
shutter push it halfway down and then shoot on subject one it’s going to let
the camera refocus this is one of the reasons why you’re gonna have to have a
camera that’s got a very low shutter lag time in a very fast level of
focus so you can dial in on those guys those players off of a lot quicker so
the key thing is is when they’re moving away from you it’s it’s very very hard
to get that focus in get the focus on the players because they’re they’re sort
of moving away from the the distance the subject is growing if your players are
coming directly towards you and this is the majority of what you’re gonna run
into in sports photography is within a split second they’re out of that depth
of field are coming right at you it’s not like you have the the angle effect
where you know if they go off to the left or the right you’ve got a little
bit of leeway there if they’re coming directly towards you within a split
second they’re already out of your depth of field this is why you need a camera
with a low shutter lag time so if you focus on them at the very top of the the
image they’re the subject one by the time that you push the shutter all the
way down that’s your shutter lag time so by the time the subject one is you know
in the lower the red circle that’s when the picture is actually taken they’re
already out of your depth of field the faster you have a camera the quicker
you’re gonna get them in of that depth of field so if your shots are blurry
that’s probably a reason why is either your camera is just too slow which may
not be the case but it’s just that this the technique on shooting is they’re
coming at yep you’re never gonna get them in focus not even the professionals
will try to try to get that if they do it’s going to be probably more a lot
more luck than anything else and if they’re moving sort of to the left or
the right you’ve got a pretty good chance so they’re kind of moving around
you your your point of view you’re probably have a much better chance of
getting them in focus so if you’re wondering how big that depth of field is
this graph here tells the story so this is a value for a 200 millimeter lens and
you can see the @f 2.8 is the blue curve and f/4 is the red curve so if you’re
safe forty feet away from your subject which is pretty realistic and you’re
shooting say f/4 which is pretty good it’s still relatively fast but it’s
going to give you some good light there your depth of field is two feet that
means if your subject is 40 feet away stuff 39 feet to stuff 41 feet is going
to be InFocus anything else we’ll be out of focus even at the the
fringes of that 39 to 41 feet the boundaries are going to be a little bit
blurry as well so two feet is not a whole lot that’s not even the width of a
hockey player and if they’re moving they’re gonna be out of two feet in just
a split second so if you’re shooting at F 2.8 you know wide open on my lens here
I’ve got about a depth of field of about 13 15 inches 15 inches is nothing it’s
not even the width of a glove and some for some players so this is the hard
thing about photography is you have such a narrow depth of field to shoot in and
they’re moving so fast getting them in focus it’s extremely difficult to do you
have to practice and practice a lot now ideally you’d want to shoe to something
like f/8 or f/11 it’s gonna give you a much much wider depth of field but you
don’t have enough light that’s the problem with indoor sports photography
so let’s change our folks a little bit here no pun intended
two shooting locations where do you want to get your tickets when you’re buying
them right at the center of the rank a 50-yard line and a football game it’s
actually the worst place to uh to set up for shooting you’re too far from the
goal too far from where the players typically like to shoot at somewhere in
the 25% of the ring ring mark where I like to sit is right here the 25% ring
mark or even better in the cheap seats right behind the goal off it’s some kind
of an angle that way when somebody’s coming up for a shot you can see them
and the actual goal this is uh me at the 25 I call the 25 percent mark of the of
the rink but I can see the player lining up for shot the goal in the background
just waiting for this is one of my favorite places to what to shoot that’s
kind of my signature shot there this is a what you’re probably going to end up
with a lot of time you’re gonna be way up in the stands you’re gonna be
shooting down on people and it just makes them look smaller than life this
is kind of the the birthday party a shot here where the parent is standing up the
kids blowing the candles out they’re shooting down at them what do you see
you see the top of juniors had terrible bend down get down into eye level it’s
hard to do in in hockey because you’re going to be shooting through glass or
you might not even be able to get up to the glass because of rules of the sport
whatnot it’s another thing I like to do is don’t wait for just a slap shot to
take a picture of while this is my this is one of my favorite shots here this is
a practice game that’s why the uniforms are kind of all over the map here but
you can see the shots in the air does the goalie get it or not you don’t know
it’s kind of the the story being told is you know it’s kind of the excitement of
the game also other things to get is to face off is another one thing I like to
get is you know before the game or before the actual the action starts get
one of these kinds of shots even getting the puck going into the goal now this
was a practice game that’s why there’s so many pucks in the back but you get
the idea that it’s not just a slap shot that’s the winning shot also the after
the the goalie stops the puck him looking back saying hey buddy is that
all you got it’s another one my favorite shot shots to capture framing has
another important concept that you might not be able to do good framing during
photography or your dirty shooting you might have to get this a justice and
software what do you want me to look at here do I’ve been looking at number 22
shooting the shot the goalie trying to defend that shot or the guy off on the
left that I don’t know what he’s doing here it’s a very busy shot if you can’t
crop it in your camera while you’re shooting crop it in in software just
zoom in a little bit and of course I’ve lighten this up a little bit as well now
there’s two people there I know exactly what I’m looking at I think the shots
going to go in but I don’t this kind of the story you’re telling here you do
this with just focusing the users eyes on what you want them to shoot here’s
also the concept of the depth of field that we talked about earlier who’s in
focus the goal the puck is blurry because it’s so fast moving but 22 is
out of focus because that depth of field that we saw now what do you want to be
the important thing you want the goalie to be in focus or the player shooting
the shot to be in focus I just chose the the goal looks at some somebody I know
and I want to get the shot for them but you could easily have shot or set your
focus on the the person shooting it and it’ll be a little bit of a different
story another common thing that I see people doing is the line the player
right up in the center of the frame will take the shot and think that that’s a
winner you know I know they’re going to the left but
doesn’t really the the shot just doesn’t give them very doesn’t give them a lot
of places to go there’s a very common thing in photography called the rule of
thirds mentally divide your camera up into three zones horizontally and
vertically put your SAR your subject on one of those third lines now it’s a
little bit better of a story being told here he’s going to the left and you can
clearly see that just gives them some some room to maneuver here just feels a
little bit more natural some tips in post-production here here’s the before
on the lower left in the after I know I show this as a few seconds ago but not
only did I crop it in but I lightened up the image and alter the contrast just
just a little bit it’s very difficult to get a perfectly exposed shot out of your
camera especially in indoor sports photography you’re probably going to
have to do some level of post-production there’s tons of YouTube videos out there
on how to lighten shots and adjust contrast fish around for the one that
works best for raw for you getting started don’t wait until the next hockey
game to start practicing your skills if you’re going out to dinner tonight to
take a camera start practicing in a low-light environment at the mall
another perfect place to do that where you don’t have a whole lot of light to
uh to deal with walk around the neighborhood at dusk and take pictures
of cars moving by or or whatever just get used to working in manual mode if
you’re not used to it it’s gonna take a while for you to figure out how to get
your camera working but once you have you’re gonna watch your level of
photography go way up and of course the spot focusing is the other thing that
you need to uh to practice on and take tons of tons and tons of test shots and
you’re never gonna get shots good out of camera the first time so be patient scan
take you a while to get used to working in manual mode and taking action shots
especially when you don’t have a light a lot of light involved and the other
thing is if you don’t have a fast lens a a 2.8 or or faster means a 2.8 or a
lower number you’re gonna have to spend some money and an opt for one so anyway
folks I hope you learn something here thanks for watching and don’t forget to