Photographing action... martial arts. Some hints and tips please.

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by SanPedro, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. SanPedro

    SanPedro
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    I'm photographing a friend tomorrow who is a world class Jeet Kune Do martial artist.

    My only camera is a Sony RX-10 with a 2.8 24-200 zoom. It's not an indoor tournament or exhibition and I'm doing the shoot outdoors. He says JKD is street fighting, so that's where the shots will be taken. There are some good white walls in the town so I was thinking of using these as the backdrop.

    So... any tips/hints on focussing, exposure, shutter speed etc.

    I was going to use burst mode as there is no way i can actually capture a moment in a single shot... he's just too damn fast. He want's proper action shots rather than staged poses.

    But what about focus? What focus mode? Or is it possible to stop the lens down to say 5.6 and just manually focus on a spot... i.e. if I am X feet away just set focus on that distance and fire away.

    And shutter speed... Am thinking I should try both fast and slow(ish). My concern is that maybe at 1/1000 or so the image might look posed. But with 1/250 it might introduce a bit of motion blur.

    Anhoo... anyone's experiences most welcome.
     
  2. Some Bloke

    Some Bloke
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    I don't have any experience shooting action or your camera, but ....

    I'm not sure if you're shooting a fight or just "poses" of one person.
    For focus, yes, I'd switch off auto focus, once you're focused on the subject.
    Ideally, you want to keep the same distance away from the subject and then you won't need to bother yourself with focus.

    What you could do, is use an hyper focal distance calculator on your phone or computer, to work out various distances for a certain aperture and distance.
    Then mark out the ground with small stones (remove them during PP), to determine the area the subject(s) can move in and still be in focus.
    That's if the subject needs to move towards and away from the camera, if he or they are just in one position, you probably don't need to do that.

    The shutter speed choice, just depends on what you want to achieve, some blur would be good to show the action. Burst mode will give you a greater chance of getting something.
    If you've got speedlites or lights, you can use those to "freeze" the action.
    Even under exposure the background and keep the subject lit correctly for a more dramatic effect.
    (Search for "overpowering the sun" to see the technique).
    Maybe, try this during the evening, when the light(s) will have more influence.

    For creativity, I'd try multi exposures, either in camera or during PP.
    Also get down low and shoot up towards the subject, so they appear more dominant/aggressive.

    Also search TB for vids, even capturing other types of action/sports/activities.
    This might be useful ??
    Code:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62DvEE6DzPU
    Good luck :)
     
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  3. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    I think some bloke has pretty much covered it. Just a couple of points to add -

    I'd look to keep the aperture pretty wide to isolate the subject from the background but as above, watch out for depth of field at the ends of arms and legs, using a longer focal length, say 100mm will give a similar effect.
    Again if you want to stage some shots try keeping the body still, moving arms and legs with slow shutter speed.
    Finally if you have a flash with stobe you can get some cool effects in the dark, search the photo section, think dancook had a play around with this to good effect.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Some good advice, it's amazing what you learn on here :) Ugg, I assume if you're using wide aperture you're not going to have to keep re-focussing rather than leaving focus in 'one spot' as mentioned by some bloke?
     
  5. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    Depends on how active the subject, if they are doing the tai chi type excerses probably not, if jumping around I'd probably use servo and burst mode to capture the motion. Good spot. To be honest, if it were me I would have been out there before with an assistant trying things out beforehand, hindsight is a great thing.
     
  6. snerkler

    snerkler
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    Thanks. I assume the reason manual focus was suggested was for speed of shooting? (Apologies for the numpty/newbie questions :blush: And also for the thread hijack :devil::D)
     
  7. SanPedro

    SanPedro
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    Pirate... ;-)

    If can work out hyperfocal length for given aperture and distance to subject I can pre-focus and then not have the camera have to hunt for focus. Autofocus on the RX10 is pretty good but it's no D4.

    And thanks for all the help folks. Some good ideas in there. I just hope the weather holds out.
     
  8. AMc

    AMc
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    I'm not pretending to be an expert but I would also try continuous auto focus and 1/1000th, 1/500th and 1/250th burst for a couple of sequences. They may not be as good as the pre-focused stuff (which I bow my head to on technique) but I have disappointed myself by trying "full manual" experiments and once loaded everything back to the PC discovered I have no usable shots because exposure or focus are beyond rescue.
    I notice this may be too late from the date of your thread.

    Please post your results in the sharing forum - I'd love to see what you've done!
     
  9. SanPedro

    SanPedro
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    Session called off
    Session off for today. It's wazzing it down and blowing a gale. Sunny Spain? Not this week señor.
    But if I do get out and get some decent shots I'll certainly post some for appraisal.
     

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