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It's a Pink Whale


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#1 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted October 25 2009 - 12:48 PM

Well, not really, but I tried my hand at some shots at a Plymouth Whalers hockey game last night. The team was having their annual "pink out" event to benefit breast cancer, so the players wore pink uniforms and died their hair pink. The Whalers won 6-1.

Tyler Seguin, who is expected to be one of the top two picks in next June's NHL Draft, scores a goal:

http://smerryfield.s...4_h5vW7-L.jpg">

Seguin skating at center ice:


The loser of a fight:


Goalie Matt Hackett (drafted by the Minnesota Wild last June, and the nephew of former NHL goalie Jeff Hackett) clears the puck:

A loose puck:




#2 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted October 25 2009 - 06:09 PM

That looks like a lot of fun, nice job!  I've never shot hockey but I hear it can be tricky due to the speed of the players and the odd lighting, looks like you had plenty to work with tho!

Sam

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#3 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted October 25 2009 - 11:50 PM

Thanks, Sam.  The lighting was tricky. I started out shooting in manual mode, but the light differed on different sections of the ice, so I switched to shutter priority mode, with an exposure compensation of +1/3. I probably needed to increase the EC to +2/3, though, as I needed to increase the exposure in most shots during post processing. I used a custom white balance, but used the ice as my source, when in post processing it appears that the white side boards would have been a better source. Since I shot in RAW mode, though, this was simple to correct.

I was also limited by focal length. I used my EF 85mm f/1.8 lens, which is the longest fast lens I own. Later, I attached a Kenko 1.4x teleconvertor to get more reach. The TC did not seem to slow down the auto focus with this lens, so I was happy with the results there.

I'll probably try again this season when the team is wearing its normal green and blue jerseys. We go to a lot of games.

BTW, here is a shot of the banner from the team's championship year in 2007. That team featured James Neal (now a top player for the Dallas Stars), Daniel Ryder (younger brother of Boston Bruin Michael Ryder), and Washington Capitals goalie Mike Neuvirth.

Posted Image


#4 of 30 Jon_Are

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Posted November 25 2009 - 05:41 AM

Nice shots, Scott. I made it to Compuware once this year, didn't bring the camera, though. The only fast lens I have is a 50mm 1.8. I guess I could have obtained some pretty cool ultra-wide angles of the arena with my 10-20.

What shutter speed did you end up with most of these. ISO? I ask because they could be a hair sharper, just wondering if you tried various iso's.

Jon


#5 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 25 2009 - 06:31 AM

Thanks, Jon. I started at 1/250sec and ISO 800, then later switched to 1/400sec and ISO 1600. Any faster would have pushed me to my max ISO of 3200, and I was trying to avoid that. Next time I will probably try 3200 anyway. I still had a little leeway with my aperture, but I didn't want to go down to f/1.8 if I could avoid it because of the razor thin depth of field. It certainly is a learning process.

We have been going to games there since the arena opened, but I had never brought my camera before, either. Until recently, I didn't have any lens that would even come close to working under these conditions, but I added a EF 85mm f/1.8 lens to my kit for our niece's wedding this summer, and decided to play a little. Ideally, though, I would really need something longer if I was serious about sports shooting. The pro who stands near us has a 300mm L f/2.8, but that's way out of my price range.

Jon, if you plan on going to another game, let me know. My wife and I go to 15-20 games a year -- it would be great to meet a fellow longtime HTF member.


#6 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 25 2009 - 06:44 AM

Since I had forgotten about this thread (thanks, Jon), I did want to add a cool action sequence I caught using continuous shooting mode of Seguin's goal:

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


#7 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted November 25 2009 - 02:58 PM

Once you start using burst mode you can't stop, be careful! 

I seriously covet 10fps for Football, Baseball and even Golf Swings now =)

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#8 of 30 Jon_Are

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Posted November 27 2009 - 11:23 PM

Scott,

Hey, you're gonna burn through a whole roll of film with that continuous shooting. /img/vbsmilies/htf/laugh.gif

Nice job on the white balance; did you have it set to auto?

Also, which Nikon body do you have? What the heck, gimme your whole equipment list.

Yeah, you really have to have deep pockets to do any serious sports shooting above the Pee-Wee level. I had a similar revelation long, long ago when I thought it would be cool to take some photos of Springsteen at Cobo Hall with my AE-1 and a 200mm Vivitar lens that had a max aperture probably in the double digits. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif

I'm more into shooting landscapes and real estate these days.

Quote:
Jon, if you plan on going to another game, let me know. My wife and I go to 15-20 games a year -- it would be great to meet a fellow longtime HTF member.
Absolutely, that would be way cool. We went because some free tickets fell into our lap, and we'll probably have more opportunities next year.



#9 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted November 28 2009 - 05:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon_Are 

Yeah, you really have to have deep pockets to do any serious sports shooting above the Pee-Wee level.
 
This is one area I think Nikon really excels in.  I hate hate hated the canon 70-300IS consumer lens but the Nikon 70-300VR is cheaper, sharper and the VR really really really works well:

These were taken from the middle deck:


These were taken from the sidelines:





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#10 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 28 2009 - 11:31 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon_Are 

Scott,

Hey, you're gonna burn through a whole roll of film with that continuous shooting. /img/vbsmilies/htf/laugh.gif">

Nice job on the white balance; did you have it set to auto?

Also, which Nikon body do you have? What the heck, gimme your whole equipment list.

Yeah, you really have to have deep pockets to do any serious sports shooting above the Pee-Wee level. I had a similar revelation long, long ago when I thought it would be cool to take some photos of Springsteen at Cobo Hall with my AE-1 and a 200mm Vivitar lens that had a max aperture probably in the double digits. <br /></span>
<br />
I'm more into shooting landscapes and real estate these days.<br />
<br />
<br />
Absolutely, that would be way cool. We went because some free tickets fell into our lap, and we'll probably have more opportunities next year.<br />
 </div></div>
Jon, <br />
<br />
I set a custom white balance, using the ice as my source. However, it was still a little off -- in retrospect the white side boards were a more accurate source. Fortunately, I always shoot RAW, so fixing this was easy.<br />
<br />
I am a Canon shooter, not Nikon. I have a Canon 40D with EF-S 10-22mm, EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, EF 70-200mm L f/4 IS and EF 85mm f/1.8 lenses. I also have a Kenko 1.4x teleconverter, which I used with the 85mm for some of these shots. <br />
<br />
Like you, I shoot mostly landscapes and wildlife, along with indoor family events, so I really do not have the need for super fast telephoto lenses. It's just fun to try new things occasionally.<br />
<br />
<br />
<div class=Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten 

Quote:


This is one area I think Nikon really excels in.  I hate hate hated the canon 70-300IS consumer lens but the Nikon 70-300VR is cheaper, sharper and the VR really really really works well:

These were taken from the middle deck:


These were taken from the sidelines:



 
Sam, those are some cool shots. Did you have any issues getting your camera and lens into the NFL stadium? I know some pro venues can be very restrictive to amateurs. At the Whalers OHL games, they are pretty lenient.

Unfortunately, though, neither the Canon nor Nikon 70-300mm IS/VR lenses are really appropriate for indoor sports -- both have too small of maximum aperture for indoors. You really need lenses with maximum apertures of f/2.8 or larger. I wouldn't even think about trying these shots with my 70-200mm L f/4, even though that is one sweet lens. All the shots I took had an aperture of f/1.8 - f/3.2. I never would have obtained a decent shutter speed at f/4, even with maximum ISO. Besides, both the Canon and Nikon 70-300's are variable aperture, so the aperture would have been even smaller than f/4 when zoomed in.

I used to own the Canon 70-300mm IS lens, and it was decent for it's price, but certainly pales in comparison with the 70-200mm L f/4 IS that I replaced it with. The 70-300's biggest drawback was a slower auto focus, hunting AF in lower light, and it was not as sharp wide open or at 300mm. However, it is about half the cost of the 70-200mm L.


#11 of 30 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted November 29 2009 - 12:18 AM

Looks like you had fun, Scott.  For us peon amateurs, that's probably the most important thing anyway. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smiley_wink.gif">

I'm glad I don't have an urge to go shoot sports action.  <img alt=  I do have a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, but haven't been using it (or lugging it) much lately since picking up the Nikon 70-300VR.  Nowadays, I only bring the Sigma f/2.8 if I have a good idea I'll need it.

I don't know how the used market is for Canon, but maybe you can try to pick up something like a used 180mm or 200mm f/2.8 to use for those kinds of shots, if you'd like to do that often.  I picked up a used Nikon 180mm f/2.8 off ebay at a nice price some time ago, and it's a sweet prime though I haven't used it much so far -- it isn't AF-S though, so focusing (w/ the camera's AF motor) can be a tad slow.  I was actually thinking about selling the Sigma f/2.8 and just swap between my 85mm f/1.8 and the 180mm f/2.8 when I need something better than the 70-300VR.  I'm used to sticking w/ primes for the normal focal length range, but haven't gotten the hang of it w/ the teles yet (much beyond the 85mm that is).

_Man_

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#12 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 29 2009 - 03:14 AM

Man, Canon has a EF 200mm L f/2.8 prime that is very well regarded and I have considered. But, even used, it is still over $500, and it's hard to justify that expense when I already have an excellent 70-200mm L f/4 IS that suits most of my real shooting needs. I do not think that Canon makes anything fast in the 180mm range, but their EF 135mm L f/2.0 is highly regarded (but almost $1,000 new). If I was serious about sports photography, it would be easier to justify the expense. But, just to experiment with a few times a year my 85mm f/1.8 with a 1.4x TC will have to suffice.

I am holding off on any new lenses for now. My next purchase will probably be something at 400mm or longer before our next Yellowstone trip, but that will not be in 2010. Last time there I had the Canon 70-300mm IS lens, and it just wasn't long enough for the wildlife in the park. Now, with 200mm being my longest focal length, I will definitely need something longer for our next visit.


#13 of 30 Jon_Are

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Posted December 01 2009 - 12:05 PM

Another thought is to rent a lens for a day or two (whether sports or Yellowstone). Haven't done this myself...I think I'd be swayed too much to spring for a nice lens once I've used it.

Crap, my longest lens is my Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5 - 4.5. /img/vbsmilies/htf/laugh.gif

Also tote a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 and a Sigma 10-20mm f/4 - 5.6.

Jon


#14 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted December 01 2009 - 11:41 PM

I have considered lens rental, but like you Jon, I would probably want to buy the lens anyway. For Yellowstone, we are usually there for 7-8 days, so the cost of a rental can be high. If I decided to try something like the Canon 500mm L f/4, though, rental would be the only option due to the very high purchase cost of that lens. If I buy a 500mm lens, it will have to be the Sigma 150-500mm due to cost. I may be able to handle buying a Canon 100-400mm L IS or Canon 400mm L f/5.6, though.

I have the Canon 50mm f/1.8, too, but never use it. Canon's version is decent optically when stopped down a little, but has a very poor AF system -- both slow and inaccurate. However, it only cost $70, so I cannot expect much at that price. My 17-55mm f/2.8 is a much, much better fast lens, so it gets used in any circumstance where the 50mm f/1.8 could be useful.


#15 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted March 19 2012 - 01:18 AM

I found this old thread of my first attempt at shooting ice hockey. While I do not shoot this subject very often, I think I've improved some. Also, upgrading to a Canon 7D body has allowed me to shoot at a higher ISO, so I can now use my 70-200mm f/4 L lens. Here are a few shots from Saturday night's Plymouth Whalers OHL season finale as a comparison to those first shots from 2009. BTW, this year's team finished second overall in the Ontario Hockey League -- hopefully they will have a long playoff run. The complete gallery is here. Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

#16 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted March 19 2012 - 02:11 AM

Love the first one. Tough to tell on the crappy monitor here at work but these seem blown out. Will have to check em from a calibrated display. Looks like you are having fun and getting some more key action so that's really great!

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#17 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted March 19 2012 - 02:21 AM

Wrong post sorry!

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#18 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted March 19 2012 - 04:44 AM

Love the first one. Tough to tell on the crappy monitor here at work but these seem blown out. Will have to check em from a calibrated display. Looks like you are having fun and getting some more key action so that's really great!

Sam, the ice is over exposed on purpose -- it's the only way to get the players properly exposed. I may have went a little too far, though. The arena installed new lights this year, and I was using my same exposure settings from last year. I may be able to drop the ISO back down to 3200 now (all shots were f/4, 1/1000sec and 6400 ISO). On the plus side, the new lights worked great with the auto white balance setting, where I needed a custom WB with the old ones. While we go to a lot of games (30+ regular season, plus playoffs), I only take my camera along occasionally, as it's difficult to watch the actual game while also trying to capture the action on camera. So, I do not get to practice much. Also, our seats are great for watching the game (we are right at center ice), but I cannot get a clean shot of either goal -- the protective glass intrudes on the bottom half of the frame. Any action on the far boards, though, offers a clean shot.

#19 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted March 19 2012 - 07:19 AM

Yeah, this is why I'm going for more high-iso cams than for more megapickles. I'd be curious how much different 1/500th or 1/640th would be too, you will obviously get some subject blur (and there's still some showing in your examples here, even at 1/1000th) but I wonder if it would be less distracting than an overexposure. I bet the exposure works better in prints than it does on screen tho!

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#20 of 30 Scott Merryfield

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Posted March 19 2012 - 09:39 AM

Thanks for the feedback, Sam. On my calibrated screen at home, the over exposed ice looks acceptable to me, but I know this can be a matter of different tastes. I really want to keep the shutter speed high, as I'm trying for sharp shots of the players, and at this level of play anything slower than around 1/1000sec brings motion blur too much into play for me. If I was shooting a lower level league or smaller kids, I could probably get away with something slower, but many of these players are just one step away from the NHL, so the action is pretty fast. I'd really like an even faster shutter speed, but it's just not possible with this lens. Ideally, my 70-200 would be f/2.8 instead of f/4, but this is the only type of shooting where I really need that extra stop. So, it's doesn't make sense spending the extra money on the lens, especially with the high ISO improvements in the newer bodies. The backgrounds still show some noise due being a little under exposed, but the main action cleaned up pretty well just using the noise reduction within Canon's DPP raw processing software. One of these days I'm going to download a free Noiseware trial and give that a shot. I've heard good things about it, and the tool is reasonably priced if I like the trial.




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