Author Topic: martial arts photography?  (Read 10223 times)

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Offline annaiso

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martial arts photography?
« on: February 05, 2006, 08:31:18 PM »
has anyone ever taken any martial arts photos?
im a member of a martial arts club and there is an amazing 17 year old black belt in kickboxing who has very kindly offered to let me photograph him. The problem is i have never taken these kind of shots before and im unsure of what equipment to take.

I know i need to buy a flashgun (that Q is in another part of forum) but i was also thinking of buying a cable release. I ve got a tripod but I think the head is no good for sports shots and was considering a pan and tilt.

Also im still learning about digtal cameras so bear with me on this, do i need to change the white balance with the shots being taken indoors ?

Offline rhett121

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2006, 10:05:05 PM »
WOW! Is that a loaded question or what?!

First you have to decide what "kind" of photos you want to take. Are you looking for a "sports portrait" of him doing the motions solo, or are you looking for some "action shots" of sparring with another?
 If you're doing some action shots, lose the tripod and shoot and move. For solo portrait style you can use the tripod. The biggest skill is to study the subject and anticipate the moves. "When" to press the shutter is the most important skill shooting any sport. Anticipate when the kick or punch will be at it's peak and shoot for that.
 A pan and tilt head won't do you any good for this type of shooting (unless he's running past you). Studio strobes will give you the best options and can be rented fairly cheap. On camera flash or a flash gun could work also but will give different results. If you've ever noticed during an indoor Pro sporting event they have dozens of studio heads mounted on the grid above the floor, these are fired by photographers shooting the event (usually wireless activated) to help freeze action but the photographer still has to figure out "what" action to freeze. You aren't going to find a camera fast enough to capture ALL the action (outside of video) so the skill comes from learning when to press the button. Since it's digital and doesn't cost anything to practice, you should practice as much as possible. Take your camera down and just shoot hand held to practice getting the hang of capturing the exact moment, whether that moment is "the moment of impact" (landing the punch), the moment "just before impact" (just before the punch lands) or the moment of "initiation" (just before the punch is thrown) is up to you and what you are trying to portray. Once you get the hang of the timing (which has to do with the camera delay as well as the action happening) you can play with your shutter speeds and flash settings to decide "IF" you want some motion blur and how much.

So really, depending on "HOW" you are planning on shooting, you really don't need much equipment at all. As far as recommending a flash, sorry but I haven't found any that I can get a definitive answer as to whether they actually work properly or not. I do however have studio strobes which is about all I use for flash work anyway. I have a 5400HSS that I used pre-digital and I wouldn't buy another Minolta flash, not since they cost twice as much as the competitors and obviously have no future compatibility roadmap.

Have fun and good luck!

p.s. Yes, you should always adjust your white balance when changing venues unless you want to correct it in post.
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Offline annaiso

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2006, 10:50:26 AM »
have u done sports photography before?

thankfully im in the same class as him so watching his moves won't be problem in fact it is kinda hard not to watch him, the power he has is unbelievable and he is so fast i would not like to be on the receiving end of one of his kicks or punches.
I think i would like to try both styles portrait and action.
I did take some shots of him when he got presented with his black belt but all the shots were too dark (i didn't change the white balance) and most had red eye, so i guess at the moment its going to trial and error but then again if we didn't make mistakes how do we learn?

i really appreciate the advice, im hoping to go and do a night course A level in photography in sept but before i can get on the course i have to have an interview and present a portfolio and i would like to have some action/sports shots in there. Also thinking about going to the local motorcross track.

Ronin

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2006, 12:26:59 PM »
Try some slow rear flash sync. Gives a great long exposure with a flash at the end, the flash freezes the shot. This gives a great feeling of movement. You will also want some very fast shots freezing the action in time, there you will need HSS.  Try a high ISO (800 or so)  in a bright place for the fast shots.

Ronin

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2006, 12:29:10 PM »
If all else fails. Then contact the „GRANDMASTER“. (sorry that’s a joke for Gaz).

Offline gazraa

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2006, 02:14:52 PM »
hehe and i think i'll be the only one to get that joke.

for those not in the know, 'grandmaster' is a chap on another forum that's into martial arts.

It would be great to see some of your photos anna. You mentioned images that were too dark, could these be saved using photoshop?

The redeye will be helped if you got a flash gun as the flash head will be further from the lense avoiding the flash relections in the eye which is what causes red eye, if you get a flash gun that allows it you can tilt/angle the head to bounce flash off the ceiling or other objects, but that depends on what is available to bounce light off. could bea bit tricky if it's in a gym.

For your course that you hope to do, make sure it covers digital. If most of it is film based and spent in the darkroom then that might not be too helpful for you.

And of course, keep asking us questions :)
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Offline rhett121

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2006, 02:57:24 PM »
I used to shoot some sports but that was long ago, and mostly with manual focus equipment (Nikon F3). For a little while I shot skateboarding with a 9xi (and later a Maxxum 9) and used the 5400HS with good results. I am actually going to start shooting sports again this spring (sail boat races) but they don't move as fast as martial arts do and flash won't be practical.
 You really have an advantage in that you already know the sport. You will be better prepared to anticipate his moves because you probably know them as well (maybe can't do them as fast, but can certainly see them coming sooner than most).

 I haven't used flash much on the 7D (and what little I have was unimpressive to say the least) but I know you will need to watch your settings very carefully. A lot of the settings require the flash to fire a pre-burst to acquire exposure settings (or focus) and this will cost you so much time you are sure to lose the shot! (see "lazy eyes" posts)
 When shooting action you may have more luck with the camera set to manual mode, shutter priority and manual focus with the aperture set according to the hyperfocal distance of your lens and the focus area you want. Unfortunately, most modern lenses make this difficult at best but it can still be done with a little math.

If you're shooting indoors without flash, crank that ISO up there. Don't be afraid of it for practice rounds because it will allow you to really get the hang of the timing involved in shooting like this. Once you feel comfortable and buy (or rent) a flash, you will know what it feels like.

ALSO!! If he is really sparring, be VERY careful as to where your flash is! The last thing you want is to fire a strobe into someone's eyes, temporarily blind them, and have them catch a sucker punch! It'll probably be the last time they let you shoot there! Just a heads up.

p.s. Here is a link to a DOF calculator you can use to find the hyperfocal distance of your lens.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2006, 03:17:09 PM by rhett121 »
- I've always thought a good lashing with a buggy whip would benefit you immensely

Offline annaiso

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2006, 04:57:43 PM »
ive got a kickboxing class tonight so im gonna see when my instructor will allow me to use the centre to practice my shots.
I didn't know u could rent flashes? 
The other thing ive to be careful of is that the centre has huge mirrors all along the walls (and i hate watching myself train)

ive checked the college course and it does both digital and film, thankfully when i bought the 7D i didn't sell my film camera. A lthough i haven't used it in about 10 months.

Offline HappySnapper

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2006, 10:43:34 PM »
Indoor sports hmmm, well ive done only outside and under floodlights (west ham reserves) using my trusty 7D and the 300 f4, even under those bright lights the ISO had to be pushed to get a nice fast shutter, as the other guys have mentioned, flashes going off may be distracting, try and aim for a fast shutter depending of the type of lighting adjust the white balance too. Should they come out dark you still have the option of ( touch ups ) digital dont you just love it..

Also try shooting from high and low positions and see what works best and best of luck.

Once you get the bug its going to be hard to stop.
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Offline annaiso

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2006, 04:16:03 PM »
i once was giving the chance to photograph my local football team "Doncaster Rovers" but spent most of the match yelling and screaming like a banshee at the players. There was another photographer there who i think worked for some newspaper he wasn't best impressed. Although i wasn't much bothered in what he thought he didn't speak to me once but kept sticking his nose up at my gear.

My other half wants me to take some shots of him fishing, no offense to any fisherman on this site but I'd refer to watch paint dry!

Any one ever done motorcross or car racing photography?

Offline gazraa

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2006, 05:05:31 PM »
I know one photographer who's done a lot of motorcross photography, not with minolta gear though.

One tip, get a long lense and keep away from the mud as much as you can!! I can get a little bit unfriedly towards cameras around these events with all the dust and mud.
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Offline rhett121

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2006, 05:39:35 PM »
Just for fun, here is a link to the Sports Illustrated photo guidelines (specifically the strobes page of the "final four"). Browse around there, it might give you some insight to the camera settings they use on different cameras (sorry, no Minolta though).

http://www.siphoto.com/?FinalFourRules.inc
- I've always thought a good lashing with a buggy whip would benefit you immensely

Offline annaiso

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2006, 06:21:42 PM »
I've been in touch with the local motorcross park and apparently there is an area where people can watch and take shots of the high jumps, so this weekend i think i'll take a trip out for the day if im not working.

thankfully i've got a 500mm lens so that should keep me away from the mud.

Offline AScot

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2006, 04:50:59 AM »
I know an Aussie who uses a 7D professionally to shoot motor racing. His initial worry was that the 7D could only shoot three frames per second, but after a couple of tries he was very happy. he now regularly sells his pics.
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Offline gazraa

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Re: martial arts photography?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2006, 10:12:29 AM »
i think our very own xeroid might do something similar :)
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