Talking Points

September 14, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Talking Points

I know that most of you want to grab that camera and start taking photos! Yup, that was me too.

Yet, if at first I started talking about how things worked in photography, your eyes would start to glaze over and any excitement would be gone, and the air in your sails would be lost forever. Well, the same would be true if you started taking photos and they all were coming out, bright, dark, blurry, out of focus, and you had no idea why this was happening, or how to fix these problems.

These talking points are here to help you overcome these problems. They are about starting points, ideas, concepts, and lessons learned. They talk about how I might try to or do take photos.

If there are terms you read about here and have no idea what I'm talking about, or want to know more information on a term, you might want to read my other blog posting called and “An Introduction To My Talking Points”. Also, you might want to check my other posting "Talking Points Mark II". So enjoy and I hope they are helpful!

Web sites

Here are some web sites I find helpful.


Pop Photo

Sports Shooter

Luminous Landscape

Outdoor Photographer

Following is what I learned at the web site for the New York Institute of Photography, and this is their core philosophy, all their lessons expand from this point. I never took a class from them, just read some of the articles they had posted on line.

At NYI we teach our students a simple Three-Step Method for setting up every photograph they shoot:

Step 1. Know your subject.

Step 2. Focus attention on your subject.

Step 3. Simplify.

Use this link to read some of the articles (at the bottom of the page) by New York Institute of Photography.

General Notes 

Everything is a trade off in photography.

High ISO will get faster shutter speeds but using them will add noise to the photo. Example

Low ISO will have less noise but will cause you to use longer shutter speeds. Example

I shoot mostly in Av mode so I can control my aperture, mostly at f2.8 which will give me a blurry background with less distractions and a faster shutter speed. But at f2.8 objects will not be as sharp as say f8. Example

For better or worse, I do the mostly “shoot and scoot” style of shooting.

When I do some sports, soccer for example, I will use the “spray and pray” style of shooting. With this style I should be able to capture most everything but will have lots of photos to then weed thought later.

I like to set WB to “cloudy” when outside. This will take out some of the blue tint and add a bit of warmth.

Always be on the look out for new angles (get low for example) and locations. Or just turn the camera 45 degrees or so. Also remember, never endanger yourself or anyone around or affect the out come of a sporting game or event while shooting! Example

Sometimes you should get as close as you can again without hurting anyone or affecting a game or event.

Other times, back off a little bit or a long ways. Example

Try to capture movement by using a slow shutter speed. It will depend on the subject for a good speed. If the subject is moving fast then the shutter speed will be faster then what would be used for a dog walking. 1/80 of a second maybe a good starting point. Example

I don't shoot too much with flash.

Watch for things in the background that are distracting, bright lights, signs, etc. These could cause the viewer's eye to look at them and not at what you wanted them to see. Remember, you are telling a story with your photography, so it is up to you to control what is in the photo and what is not. Don't assume the viewer will know what the subject is; it is your job to lead them there. Example

I don't want to have port-a-johns in the background; I'll pop the photo right away if they are. If I do have one in a photo and I really want to use that photo then I'll either crop it out or convert the photo to black and white.

YouTube is a great place to find information.

I always format my cards after offloading them.

Try not use up all the space on a card, change to a new card when the camera is indicating there are only a few photos left to go. The number photos remaining is an estimate, so if you take it all the way down to the last photo there might not be enough room to write that last photo and that could cause an I/O problem and corrupt the whole card....not good.

One thing to keep in mind to reduce camera shake if you are using it hand held, try not to shoot with a shutter speed less the length of the lens. This means if you are using a 50mm lens then try not to shoot below a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second.

I try to use the 1/3 rule as much as possible. This is much more pleasing to the eye, at least mine. Example

Give the subject “room to move in to” in the photo, meaning don't place the subject next to an edge that it appears to be moving towards as if it were exiting the photo. Example

Check your histogram; you want the peak sort of in the middle.

I try to expose a bit to the right (the light side).

Try a slow pan with a slow shutter speed (dragging the shutter) and setting the flash to go off with the second curtain. Example

I have my cameras set to do “thumb focus”. The camera focus button is now on the back of the body not at the shutter button. This way I can set the focus where I want before taking the photo.

General Sports Notes

Shoot the action side sports set to the biggest, fastest aperture your lens has. This will give you the fastest shutter speeds and burry backgrounds, both elements needed for sports.

I have only shot baseball (from the stands), softball, soccer, two night football games and the Bay City River Roar.

I try to be around at least a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second when shooting sports. This will freeze most of the action and reduce a lot of camera shake.

If I have a big/long lens I'll use my monopod. There are times I feel it will limit me in my shooting. So I'll just carry it around for awhile that is if the lens is light enough to be hand held.

I shot most of soccer on my knees and lying down. I'm looking for eye level shoots or looking up a bit. Example

Shoot from behind the nets or goal posts. Example

I try panning for all sports. When I do this, I will use the TV mode to control the shutter speed. For soccer, I would be around 1/80, sometimes a bit slower, sometimes a bit faster. Example

Always try to show the ball, puck, etc., but not every photo will need it, some work without them. Example

Interaction between team members, fans and family. Example

Shots of the team, groups and single members after the game is over, win, lose or draw (this maybe when you can get the interaction between players and family members). Example

I use AL Servo and burst mode.

I set my camera to using the center focus point with sports. This is the most sensitive focusing and metering point in the camera.

I shoot in JPG for fasting action subjects like sports. This gives me the ability to put more photos on a single card because the photo files are much smaller than RAW ones. Also, I can have more files placed into the camera's buffer waiting to be written to the card before the cameras stops taking photos in order to let itself catch up.

I try not taking or posting any photos of the players in what could be embarrassing moments like stretching before or after the games. Remember, the players are trusting you will not do that by allowing the photos to be taken, don't burn that trust.

Photos can be taken at practices, not always at the meets or games. The pace is a bit slower so and you might be able to get a shot you missed at the match. Example

Shots of the team members while the national anthem is being played/sung, single members and the whole team. Also, try to get a shot of the team, a player or two or the singers with the flag in the shot. Example

A shot of the singers if they are used. Example

Shoot from standing at the top of the bleachers or the fan's seating.

Shoot from behind the bleachers or fan seating to get the backs of people watching, either focus on them or the players. Example

For a general indoor sports shoot, get up in a corner at the top of the seating and use a wide angle lens to capture the event, fans and the game in one shoot. Example

Some crowd shots! Happiness, shock, reactions, fans dressed for team/school support. Example

Theater/Stage Production Notes

Maybe shoot the actors of the play during dress rehearsal to get all the good angles, looking up from the stage, so as not to get in the way of people watching during the performance.

Can you get a shot of the play from above the stage by getting up in the scaffolding? Wide and tight shoots. Example

Here you most likely are really going to need to shoot with the lens wide open and a high ISO because it will be dark. Use either the auto WB or incandescent WB setting.

Football Notes

For the night games, try to shoot mostly at the start of the game and season when there is still some sun light.

Try standing about 10 yards in front or behind the scrimmage line. Example

Watch out for players or balls coming at you! They will not stop and you will not stop them either!

Also get to the game early to shoot the players as they are warming up. Example

Keep looking for things that are happening all around, crowds, cheerleaders (some times just milling about) banners, the boosters selling food. Example

See if you can get up in the press box for some shoots, wide angle or even the top of the press box.

Swimming Notes

Low for swimming meets, at the other end of the pool for the starting of a swimming race. And maybe behind the swimming racers if they are starting from the blocks. Or parallel to them starting.

Can you get a group shot of the swimmers in the pool (at practice) by you looking down from one of the diving boards?

Track and Field Notes

Parallel to a track hurdle to catch the runners going over. One that just shows their feet and legs an other one of the whole body. Also maybe a bit to the left or right of the hurdle. This might be a great place to be very low so you are looking up as the runners go over the hurdle.

The long jumpers coming at you as they hit the sand or are taking off, pre-focus at the point they start the jump if not using Al Servo.

At a track practice can you bring in a ladder to place next to the long jump pit to shoot the landings looking down?

At the discs, this would be a great time to use a slow shutter speed to capture the motion of the athlete spinning around. This could also work with the javelin thrower and long jumper.

At practice can you use that ladder you dragged in for the long jump be set up near the pole vault so you can take a straight on shoot of somebody going over? Also to the each side?

Try to get a close up of the hand off during the relays.

The start of a running race (sprints), around the blocks. Behind or to the side of the blocks. Looking down the track as they are running toward you (very low, laying on you stomach).

Baseball and Softball Notes

Get behind the backstop, a little to the left or right to see both the hitter and pitcher. Get close enough so the fence so is not seen or just far enough so it is blurry just like when shooting from behind the soccer goal net.

Getting on top of the dugouts.

Looking down the baseline.

A lot of action will take place at home, the mound, first and second base. Example

Closing Notes





And most of all, have fun!

Remember, these are just talking points, not the be all and end all. Not hard and fast rules. Just merely starting points for conversations about how to do certain things. From these points it is were knowledge and learning should expand from. I didn't talk about all the possible sports that are played in high school, my intent was to cover a few and then you would take what you have learned from these sports and apply them to other subjects.

All rules can be broken so check out this article.



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