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Archive 2012 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six
  
 
OntheRez
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p.1 #1 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Iíve hesitated to post these as they are not up to the quality of so much in this forum. Still, I thought it might be instructive for those who have to operate past the margin. I shoot for the local paper. The high school's field is literally so dark that with a 1DIV set at ISO25600, f/2.8, Tv 400, I'm still at least 1 stop under-exposed. It actually depends on whether or not a play takes place under a light standard. In the end zones, it's easily 2 steps dark. I have watched players "lose" the ball in the gloom on a high kickoff. Even with an excellent 70-200 f/2.8L II, focus acquisition is often a challenge. It's all about light. (BTW the league bans flash. Multiple attempts to influence this have failed.) Temp at 7PM game time is >100F until late September.

This is 8 man ball played on a regulation field. The schools are tiny. (Enrollment ~100.) Often a team will show up with <12 players. (The local squad with JV = 18). One of the facts of 8-man ball is that much of the offensive action goes to the outside. Simple geometry. With only 8 to fill a space designed for 11, thereís always a lot of room out there. So either the play comes towards you, or it's all the way to the opposite side. Murphy's law works well here, as I'd swear the great plays are always on the other side

Shots from 2 games. Red is local. Blue is the 90 year old grudge match. Two tiny towns you've never heard of buried deep in the Sonoran desert fighting like it's really important. Green is further north but still tiny and isolated. In some ways this - to me - represents football purity. None of these guys will ever see D1. A tiny percentage might play at one of the community colleges up in the big city. For most this is it.

Comments, critiques, advice always welcome - particularly if you can get me more light. (Yes, there is a LOT of noise suppression going on here.)





A key 1st down catch.







9 gets behind coverage and goes all the way.







A sack on a very quick QB.







1 shoe Corona scores.




Sep 24, 2012 at 07:46 PM
PShizzy
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p.1 #2 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


hey OTR,

I feel your pain. What part of AZ you in? I'm in Central (actually walking distance from Phoenix College, which hosts a few hs teams).

I have had to shoot at high ISO before (51,200 ISO) for some of the high schools. In fact, I would suggest the same to you, especially if you were 1 stop underexposed. I say this because that means that you're pushing the files, which tends to look worse than going to the "H" ISO settings.

Also, and maybe this is a bit of a gamble, but maybe an 85 1.8 would help you with end zone plays? Having that extra stop or so would counteract the loss of light, and 85 is the right sweet spot to me where its probably not too wide, not too tight, a fast lens both focus and aperture wise, and yet somehow inexpensive relative to other options.

If you're ever in the central area, lemme know.

Max



Sep 25, 2012 at 04:22 AM
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p.1 #3 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Max,
Nice to know others "feel the pain," I think a lot of shooters in better environments really don't believe how dark it is out here in nowhere'sville. I'm in Ajo (99% of our readers probably have no idea even how to pronounce it) and spend my time in places like San Simon, Baboquivari, Gila Bend, Patagonia. You know, all the hot spots!! Literally in the summer time. My 1DIV doesn't go past 25600. I understand a 1Dx will, but $7k!? Not sure my old truck is worth that much. So that leaves me pushing. You're absolutely right that it doesn't make a great pix, but I guess it's better than no pix

I keep thinking about trying my primes, but the fumbling in the dark and the dirt to change lens almost guarantees I'll be missing at least some plays - always the big ones if Murphy has anything to do with it. As it is, 200mm won't really reach down field on a long play and my longest prime is a 135 and it only gains me a stop. I suppose I could I could try shooting everything with a 50mm f/1.4. Get some tight shots that way

The only thing that saves me professionally is the paper publishes in B&W which can cover a multitude of sins and no one else around here is even vaguely pro. Valley of the blind and the 1 eyed king sort of thing

We've got a hot VB team. Might make state. If so that's the big city and I'll give you a shout.

Robert



Sep 25, 2012 at 08:33 PM
ChrisFWilson
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p.1 #4 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Robert,

I've not been challenged with the kind of low light you're talking about, but one way I've dealt with less extreme low light is to shoot RAW instead of JPEG. I've found that RAW files can handle the post processing exposure bumps with less distortion in the image quality.

Gotta love the B&W conversion as well - the noise can end up adding character!

And if you get a chance to say hi to Max, do it. Met him once at an Oregon/ASU game. He's a great guy - just wish I'd had time to take him up on the offer to get a beer after the game!

Chris



Sep 25, 2012 at 08:45 PM
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p.1 #5 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Chris,

I always shoot RAW even on the deadline. Just don't trust some programmer's idea of what the pix should look like. (Does make for an occasional long night.) It is entirely possible (nay, probable) that my PP for color could be better. This is my second year at it and I see real improvement from last year to this. I keep trying different approaches to noise suppression with strangely enough Topaz's DeNoise currently giving me the best result, if done before sharpening.

The one thing I had going for me when the season began in mid August was that thru the first quarter there was still a fair amount of ambient light. Most of my good shots in those games came early on. Drama of course is often late in the game and by then it's dark. Here in late Sept. the games begin in the dark so that advantage is gone.

I'm the only "real" photographer on the paper's staff and I only do sports for them. The difference between my 2 contributions and everything else in the paper is a bit mind boggling. The reading public has noticed and commented. Because of it, I'm now sending the editor 6-8 color shots per week for their online presence (covering VB and FB) for which they (1) pay a small pittance and (2) give me full credit and contact info. Gotten a few small sales though bluntly, folks here are hit with the double bind of first not understanding how much better a well crafted photo can be and two having very little money.

The black and white is a blast really. Kind of like old time SpeedGraphix stuff - not that I ever touched one. The wild card in the process is the printer (they send out for printing). The publisher (in disgust after a particularly dark edition) said the process had "all the subtlety of smearing tar on canvas." Ouch. I submit camera ready so it's always a wild guess as to what the printer will do. I go light which normally works but once in a while the printer spares the ink and things get pale. Converting to B&W is fun particularly when one sees it on a 4 column spread.

If the VB team makes state I'll certainly look Max up maybe cause I'll be the small town hick in the big city Those who don't live and shoot in little towns probably don't realize how important the schools are. The school is generally the central unifying thing in town. When they get a winner (which is hard to do in a high school with 100 kids) everybody lights up and figures the whole town is on the rise. (I even heard a couple of old-timers yesterday saying, "Yep, PD's gona open the mine again." Not a chance, but optimism is hard to come by these days in rural and small town America.)

Robert



Sep 26, 2012 at 06:44 PM
PShizzy
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p.1 #6 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Robert,

What is your current workflow, and what tools do you have available? I'd be glad to discuss it sometime, maybe we can fine tune the workflow.

As for your printer, it's sad to see their product can't be more consistent. We had that problem with a textbook printer before, and I kept having to mangle up perfectly fine photos to make it print right. Maybe they're the same guys sparing that ink.

Anyhow, if you're ever in town, feel free to let me know beforehand, and perhaps we can meet up, or if I'm free, I can go shoot the game (I have an AIA pass thru a local paper also)

Max



Sep 27, 2012 at 06:43 AM
 

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Frank Lauri
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p.1 #7 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Robert....my sincere condolences on the lighting issue there. I think what Max suggested with the 85 1.8 might be a considerable help for you....plus it's a great little lens that won't break the bank.

Some suggestions though....based on these limitations you are faced with....and only using the 70-200...it may be beneficial for you to identify the "hot spot" location of the field where the lighting is better in these locations that others and use these areas as your "go to" shooting locations and let the play come closer to you. Then you can use an 85 1.8 for those end zone shots. That will allow you to shoot a bit tighter and then crop a little tighter as well. The shots you posted would benefit with different and tighter crops.

For the flash issue....I don't know who was fighting the battle to convince the league to allow flash....but maybe your paper can address this with the league for consideration.

Robert....good luck with trying to find the light....bud.

Frank




Sep 27, 2012 at 11:29 AM
OntheRez
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p.1 #8 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Frank,

I've got an 85 f/1.8 and an 135 f/2.0. (I shot VB and BB with them in the also dark gym.) I keep thinking about trying to use them, but stumble over the when/how to change lenses. As you can imagine, the area around the field is pretty rough - think desert without any cactus, so that's what I'm kneeling in.

Homecoming is next week and since I have to carry some fast shorter FL lenses to do the king/queen thing, I'm going to give it a shot. I do work for the "brighter" pools, but one of the truisms of 8-man at this level is that plays mostly either end up in a pile with nothing to see or break very long if a man gets outside or behind coverage. So the nature of the beast is even though I work up field from the scrimmage line many of the "good" shots are a long reach.

As for the flash thing, it's apparently an association thing though not evenly applied. The guys up in the big city seem to be able to flash (even though universally they have better light) whereas those of us out here in the cactus get jumped on. I won't even start on how ossified and out of touch the state association is!

Thanks for the ideas. I'll try my quick lenses and see what happens.

Robert




Sep 30, 2012 at 03:23 AM
andyz
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p.1 #9 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Flash should be OK for homecoming at halftime, yes?

Maybe you should borrow/rent a second body and try that fast lens in the end zone with it?



Sep 30, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #10 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


If there was ever a time to setup that huge strobe setup, it would be now.

BTW: If you thought 8-man was crazy (we have 9-man here in MN) I saw some pictures of 6-man football in Wyoming.



Sep 30, 2012 at 03:03 PM
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p.1 #11 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


Andy, I'll have a tripod and fast lenses for homecoming and thanks for the flash idea. Would be legal then.

Caleb,
9-man? What is it 5 down 4 back? I shot some 6-man for a bit. Smaller field, center eligible. Teams regularly put up scores like the recent WVA vs Baylor thing. Absolutely wild. Once an editor claimed I'd gone to a basketball game by mistake

Robert



Oct 01, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #12 · Life at Twenty-Five-Six


I'm not sure really. I've never seen it live.


Oct 01, 2012 at 10:09 PM





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