Friday, February 09, 2007

02/09/07: Know When You are Smarter Than Your Camera

Not long ago I posted about shooting an engagement session with j-peg and all manual settings. I got "outside the box" again recently. My wife is a former figure skater so we rarely miss professional or competitive figure skating events when they come to town. Last weekend we went to the Stars On Ice show and I had the fun of doing a shootout with myself. I shot the first act with aperature priority and auto-focus, and the second act with manual shutter / aperature and manual focus (5d w/ 85mm 1.8).

Shooting manual was tough in such a dark environment...especially with the constantly changing theatrical lighting and the fast movement of the athletes. I took around 1250 shots and had a very, very small % of keepers. The light being reflected off of the white paint under the ice can really fool a camera meter...even in spot mode depending on the width of the spot light and the costumes of the skaters.

What I like about doing this type of exercise is that it forces you to learn when to trust yourself over your camera's meter. You could shooting figure skating shows relate to other types of photography? Well...think of constantly changing lighting you whirl around an event shooting (esp. if you are shooting natural light) -- these are the typical types of situations where you need to learn to trust yourself more than your camera's meter.

Most of the following images were shot at ISO 1250, f2.0, and in the 1/400 to 1/800 shutter speed range (even at that range, most of the really fast action shots were blurry...and I wasn't out to practice motion blur that night!). I really only changed the shutter speed with the changing light as well as the focus ring. As lights got dimmer or brighter it was like I was bracketing in 1/3 stop increments over a 5 - 7 frame sequence (even though I wasn't intending to bracket the exposures). Here are some of the keepers...

Typically on Friday's I like to post a photography quote. Today, in keeping with the ice skater theme of this post, I'd like to share a quote that is totally not related to photography -- but it can have a big influence on your photography.

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude."

--Scott Hamilton (U.S., Olympic and World Champion figure skater, and cancer survivor)

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