Monday, August 23, 2010

Physics and Sports Photography

I wrote this last week. But the environ around our house was devastated by a storm so we lost power, was displaced from our house for a couple of nights and, up to now, have intermittent wifi signal.


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Once upon a time, I wrote a physics book being used by high school students in the Philippines. Several years later, the book is up for revision. After submitting the revisions I asked my editor if I can change the cover of the book. She told me to submit photos for consideration.


With that, I thought of ways to convey motion and dynamism in my book cover. I thought that the wife would be a perfect model for this venture since she is, after all, also into physics. So, I made an outline of what I wanted to do and presented it to her. She agreed and we went to a basketball court.






I planned to do, as you can see from the sketch, a sequence of shots. I set my camera first to Aperture Priority (Av on a Canon DSLR). I was able to get some shots but I wasn't generally happy with what I got. So, I changed my setting to Manual. I read from some photography books and magazines that, for sports photography, there should be a setting of about 1/500 of a second or faster to freeze the action. But the wife is not a professional athlete, so I just set the shutter speed to 1/160 of a second, the aperture value to f/4.5 and the ISO setting to 200. I put my camera on a tripod and photographed the wife while she drove to the basket. The reason I put the camera on a tripod is so that I will have the hoop as a constant while the wife is the one that's moving. Oh, I almost forgot, I put the camera to High Speed Continuous Shooting mode at 8 frames per second. This is really the first time I have maximized this function of my camera. I then combined the pictures in photoshop to make a multishot image.


This is the picture:




I also added some physics scribbles on the picture. As you can see, the wife's center of gravity and the ball's trajectories both followed parabolic paths. Hail physics!


The tripod really performed well. There were no camera movements while I was taking the shot. Also, I used a cable release while I was taking these shots.


Next, with settings of 1/40 of a second, f/11 and ISO 200, I removed the camera from my tripod and took panning shots of the wife while she drove to the basket. This is another situation where the Canon grip really paid dividends.  I was able to take great shots of the wife with great ease.


Here is a sequence of shots while the wife is driving to the basket.




What did I learn from this?


First, you must have a lot of flash cards. I finished two 8GB cards in this photoshoot. Second, you really must train before you delve into sports photography where everything can happen in the blink of an eye. With the wife, I was able to convince her to keep on driving to the hoop until I got the shots that I wanted. When you shoot a game, a real game, you don't expect a re-take of a shot, whatever the sport may be. Also, I don't know if this is true for professional sports photographers but I felt that shooting in Manual Mode was best. This is so I can either freeze the action or do a panning shot.


And one more thing, I find the auto focus of the Canon 7D is really very good. I set my camera to AI Servo AF and let the camera do the focusing for me. I can say that I was able to get a sharp focus of the wife in about 95% of the shots. The 7D is really good!


I was so happy with this venture. I was able to combine my love for photography and my love for physics. Now, if only my editor would approve the pictures...

1 comment:

  1. Very nice concept, I hope the editor approves the picture for book cover. I also read some stuff on taking moving pictures and editing these kinds of shots in Photoshop. I must say you really are mastering the different aspects of Photography, I cannot catch up on your technical terms :)

    ReplyDelete

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