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Monday, May 10, 2010
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Q&A 1: Sports Photogra...
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Welcome to the 472nd issue of SnapShot!

At BetterPhoto, we are so excited that our new certification program has jumped off to such a tremendous start! It's the result of many requests from students and BP members. In other words, you asked for it, you got it :-) Learn more here... ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Jim Zuckerman's advice on capturing motion through panning, and my own Photo Tip on graphic design. ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography!    Kerry Drager   Newsletter Editor    Where is Jim Miotke? Follow BetterPhoto's founder and president on Twitter - BetterPhotoJim - and in his blog:

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Photo Q&A

1: Sports Photography Etiquette

I had a very interesting thing happen at my daughter's softball game. Over the last 4 years, I started selling photos, making small collages at the end of the year for seniors and doing about a dozen senior shoots a year. Yesterday, I went inside the fence at the game and started taking pics. A local photographer came up to me and asked who I was shooting for. I replied that it was for myself and others. His reply was that the area inside is usually only for people asked to take photos and he was sure I was only shooting "my daughter".
I left the area, rather confused and didn't take another picture. For the most part, I was taking pictures of friends' kids, a senior I have business for, and my daughter. The coach said it was OK for me to take pics, and even mentioned that it would be neat to make a poster at the end of the year. I think I may have stepped on the other photographer's toes, but really, I am doing this as a little lucrative hobby, not my full-time job. I think I will call the school and see what the policy is there, since it is high school sports.
Was I in the wrong? Do I need permission first? I don't want to break any rules and, by all means, am not as good of a photographer as the professional (but I am working on it!).
I charge less because I feel my quality can't compete yet with others in town. I guess my question is what is proper etiquette in sports photography in the case of other photographers and other team-mates of my daughters?
- Tamera L. Reuvers

It's not really etiquette. He may be the one that the school has made an agreement with to do the pictures that will be put together for collages that will go into the yearbook. Mostly seen for seniors. So under that circumstance, it would be similar to someone shooting for the local paper. They have a legitimate reason to be inside the fence. Whereas parents would have to stay in the stands, or shoot through the fence.
On the other hand, if it's just a person, even if he has a photo business that one or a group of parents had asked to shoot games, he's not that different than you.
Some photographers who make deals with youth leagues to shoot a season will stipulate that no other person be allowed to shoot from the sidelines. This is not only because of the parent that will decide to go on down to the field, but also so a team won't bring somebody to be on the sidelines taking pictures.
Technically, a high school game is like any other game, pro or college, and I'm sure the school or school district has rules that say only part of the team or media are allowed down on the field. However, everybody knows how casual a high school field can be. If there's only a few people, and nobody gets in the way, you'll probably be okay. But one extra parent who wants to do it too can easily turn in to a crowd that's not supposed to be there.

- Gregory La Grange

For high school games, Max Preps photographers are welcomed. They usually have a lanyard identifying them as such. I do sports photography and senior photography but as a parent at a game, I stay behind the fence. Especially baseball. Very dangerous and I can do just as well behind the fence. I was on the field at varsity football games with a lanyard and permission to be there.

- Erica Murphy
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2: How to Photograph a Large Group

In shooting a group photo (say 10-15 people), how do you get subjects clearer and bigger?
- Charles K. Tufuor

Hi Charles,
There are several ways to go about this but I would start with positioning everyone in triangles - meaning that no 2 people's faces/heads are too close to another as this will cut down on shadows and allow the light to hit them all more even. Triangle in this sense is to have equal space (as much as possible) from top to bottom & left to right.
In 2 rows from left to right - the 1st person at eye level with the next person (in bottom row) at chest/belly level positioned between 1 & 3 and the 3rd person (top row) at eye level again, etc. ... The triangle technique will keep space between them to allow the light to hit all the people more evenly. You can also position the back row to lean in a bit to try to get everyone's faces close to the same plane which will help with sharpness.
With 15 people you may consider 3 rows but this creates more space from front to back which will work against shooting them on the same plane. Still very do-able though.
Big Light sources are good if you have Strobes with umbrellas/diffusers for spreading the light or big natural window light source. You may try shooting from overhead or an elevated vantage point (ladder) and have them looking up (still keeping the triangle technique in mind). I would stay away from bright sunlight outside as these images are often quite harsh - diffused (cloudy) outside lighting is more flattering but you need to position everyone that will allow that natural light to work for you. Under a shade tree would most likely require fill flash.
Its all about getting enough light on everyone and using enough DOF (f/9, f/11 or more) to allow for a sharper capture. Staggered will help with lighting and getting them close to the same plane will help with sharpness.
That's my .02 but I bet John S would have even better suggestions :)
Have fun!

- Carlton Ward

Thanks, Carlton, for your suggestions. I have learned about the triangle method which I will implement in my next group photo shoot. Another question is: Do you always have to use wide-angle lenses for such group photos? Can you use any lens type?
Most group pictures that I take always happen outside in daylight. How do you approach that. If you are indoors and do not have strobe lighting, what is the alternative. If you have only a flash, is that a good source of light for such photographs. I use the Nikon SB-800.
Thank you for your time.

- Charles K. Tufuor

Thank you Charles,
I don't recommend a wide-angle lens if you can avoid it. From my bag, I would opt for the 24-70mm or even better yet - the 70-200mm. If you are in a tight space, you have to work with what will fit. Wide angles can distort the image while the 70-200mm has a beautiful compression characteristic that would be more flattering. If you have any primes like the 50mm, 85mm or 135mm, these would work well. The light can be set up closer to the group if needed but if you have space to set the camera further back, the longer lenses will work very well and would be preferable.
With one flash you would need to get it positioned carefully as the chances of having shadows are likely & it will be tricky to get enough power & light spread evenly on the group to work but as long as you are aware of this challenge, it is do-able. It is pretty amazing how creative you can get with 1 strobe (if you have experiment/practice time) but 2 strobes would make this much easier IMO.
Window lighting and reflectors could work as well. And don't forget White Balance. WB can be fixed afterward in Photoshop but I try to set my custom WB for these type of shoots.

- Carlton Ward

Hi Charles and Carlton,
Here are a few ideas. It is easier to do this outdoors, because at least some of your light is provided by the sun. I would use at least one strobe outdoors. This will help freeze your subjects, but mostly it will fill shadows. As Carlton has suggested, two strobes would be better. You don’t need to make the light sources all that large if you are just using the strobes for fill. Indoors I would use umbrellas, and maybe one light behind the subject. The triangle approach works well, but the important thing is to keep the subjects pretty close together. The more area in the photo the smaller the subjects. I would use a lens of 35mm or longer, if I could, to shoot this with a full frame camera.

- John H. Siskin

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