Most people at our club know that I am an Olympic photographer, which means that people are always asking me to photograph these types of events. And for those of you who photograph sports, you know that when shooting these events, you actually miss most of the meet. I end up concentrating on the focus, composition and everything photographic, but miss the race itself. So...for many of the last meets, I chose not to bring the camera, and to just be dad.
But since this was our last swim meet, and the big final meet of the season, I decided to bring the camera and capture as much as I could.
I am going to share some of the photos with you all, and also share the camera settings and thought processes so that you too can capture nice photos of your own.
Here we go...
|My daughter in action|
Using the fast shutter speed freezes the swimmers and the water around them. In order to keep the swimmer in focus,, I set the camera to servo focus mode and I move the focus point to the upper center. If you do not know how to use servo focus mode, read your manual and try this. It is almost always the best way to get good photos of sports action. Get that focus point right on the face of the swimmer and fire away. The nice thing about the Canon 1Dx and the Canon 7D Mark II is that they can take photos at a very fast frame rate. Something in the area of 12 photos per second. This really helps you get photos at the peak of action.
I would shoot photos at different points of the swimmer's stroke. This would give me a nice variety of photos, not always having the swimmer looking directly at me. This shot clearly shows the muscles of this young man.
When shooting a swim meet, don't only capture the action. Have some fun and look for other good shots.
I saw the reflection of the Stanford swimming pool in this man's sunglasses and zoomed into for this photo. This is way more interesting than a straight shot of the pool, don't you think?
For backstroke, I decided that the photos would look better from a high position. So I climbed to the top of the stands and shot down from this location. For this shot, I turned the camera and I adjusted the 100-400mm lens all the way back to 100mm (on this crop sensor camera) to include most of the swimmers diving into the pool. When shooting this way, I changed the aperture to f/11 so that they would all be in focus. Even at this narrower aperture, I still had a shutter speed of 1/640 sec.
I also zoomed the lens in tight to isolate some of the swimmers diving back from the edge of the ppol.
Just like in the butterfly stroke, I will often shoot photos at different times during the swimmer's race. In this case, I chose to shoot photos as the swimmer was still underwater and just about to break the surface to start her backstroke.
I also took some backstroke photos from the pool deck. As you can tell, this yields a completely different look than the shots from up above. Don't be afraid the move around and try different shooting locations. I really like the veil of water coming over Rachel's face on this shot.
With all of the distractions at this end of the pool, I did not take too many photos of the kids diving in for the start of their race. But it is a good idea to get some photos of this, since it is an important part of the meet.
The breast stroke in an interesting event to photograph, since the swimmers come out of the water quite often and get their faces low to the water line. Much like the butterfly stroke, I usually choose to shoot this from straight on.
Some shots with them high out of the water and some not...
And then there are the mishaps. I always feel bad for the swimmers who have to complete with their goggles out of place. But it does make for some interesting photos.
I have seen many kids swim with their goggles off, but never seen anyone chewing on them as they swim. :)
And...of course, you have to photograph the little ones. They are just too darned cute!
The last stroke is freestyle, which is best captured from the side of the pool. Shooting from the side of the pool means that you can see the swimmer's face. The biggest challenge with this is when some kids only breath to one side. If they breath on the side away from where you are standing, this may mean that you can never get a shot of their face.
You might be wondering how many photos I shot over the 8 hour time period of this meet. Using the high speed shooting mode of the Canon 7D Mark II, meant that I had a lot of photos to sort through that evening. Turns out that I shot 64GB of photos (3000 images in MRAW). Luckily I was using the Lexar 128GB 1066x Professional CF card so I had plenty of room to spare. I pared through the 3000 photos, using Photo Mechanic, and kept my favorite 1200. I then went through and marked the 400 photos that I would share with the club members. I did some quick retouching in Adobe Lightroom (mostly cropping and making small exposure adjustments) before uploading them to my web site for everyone to download and enjoy.
As a recap, here is what I recommend for camera settings for a swim meet:
* High speed shooting mode (this could be anywhere from 3-14 photos per second depending on the camera)
* Servo focus to help keep the swimmer in focus as they swim to and away from you
* Keep a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 sec for all fast action (adjusting ISO and aperture to get this shutter speed)
* If you know how to shoot with back button focusing, do that. I did for all these photos. If you do not know about back button focusing, check out this video.
And some other non-camera reminders:
* Move around to get different perspectives
* Be creative and look for interesting reflections and details
* Be polite to the people around you, especially when moving in front of them to get a shot.
* Have fun
I hope this helps you get some great shots of your own!
If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.
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