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Swimming Meet Help
  
 
bipock
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Swimming Meet Help


My kids are in their first year of swim team and, lo and behold, guess who is the team photographer and yearbook designer!

Our meets are "small", in outdoor pools that have hardly any lights. They start at 6pm and run until almost 9-930pm. the first couple hours are pretty good. Using a 5D4, 1/800, 2.8 on my 70-200II with Auto ISO, normally running +1/3 EC.

My question isn't about the early hour, but how do you shoot anything after sunset? We don't have electronic scoring or any kind of flash start system. I've thought about attaching some flashes to the marker flag poles, but haven't discussed it yet with team officials. Would that make a difference? What about flash on camera?

Anyone got any thoughts? For reference, this isn't college or high school type stuff. It is well organized, but different level.



Jun 21, 2017 at 07:15 PM
MikalWGrass
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Swimming Meet Help


High ISO. No flash because it may be too distracting to the swimmers.

I will be the first to tell you to ditch the job of being the team photographer and yearbook designer, and concentrate on being a parent, especially since this is the first year your kids are swimming, Read the thread entitled "Immutable Laws of Sports Photography."



Jun 21, 2017 at 07:52 PM
bipock
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Swimming Meet Help


Thanks Mikal. I take plenty of time to watch my kids and understand the meets. They don't suffer.



Jun 21, 2017 at 08:16 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Swimming Meet Help


How dark is dark? What about getting shots all done in the first 90 minutes and then be done? I agree with flash, especially if it's that dark. Plus, outdoor OCF under real dark conditions are going to be an issue with recharge time, etc.


Jun 22, 2017 at 08:14 AM
bipock
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Swimming Meet Help


I can get the free and back before the sun disappears for sure. The breast normally starts about sunset. Butterfly after dark.

P Alesse wrote:
How dark is dark? What about getting shots all done in the first 90 minutes and then be done? I agree with flash, especially if it's that dark. Plus, outdoor OCF under real dark conditions are going to be an issue with recharge time, etc.




Jun 22, 2017 at 12:24 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Swimming Meet Help


bipock wrote:
I can get the free and back before the sun disappears for sure. The breast normally starts about sunset. Butterfly after dark.



Oh boy, can't miss those heats. How dark are we talking?




Jun 22, 2017 at 01:16 PM
bipock
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Swimming Meet Help


The butterfly is nighttime with a set of lights at max. Honestly, I don't know how the judges can tell who touches the wall when. When I shot it the other night, I was at ISO 12800, 1/640, 2.8 with +1/3 EC. That wasn't quite enough shutter speed for the older, stronger kids.

Depending on the size of the other team, the breast stroke may start anywhere from 8pm-845pm. Earlier, I have light, latter, I don't.

It appears this league does thing backwards from most other by putting those 2 last.



Jun 22, 2017 at 04:43 PM
gene2632
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Swimming Meet Help


Using flash is likely to cause all kinds of complaints. From swimmers, parents, coaches and officials. It is disruptive. You will be much better off cranking the ISO to it max and shooting RAW. With RAW you can be a few stops under and still pull an image out in post. It is a pain but it works. One of old college clients, Ivy League school, has a pool that looked like it was lit by half a dozen 60 watt bulbs. I actually took light readings in there and in my living room at home and the living room was brighter. Another D3 school swam in pools that were so dark my AF struggled and the officials told me they were guessing half time about strokes and touches. They really could not see. So, ISO 8000 and then batch process to open them up in post. RAW is a must. Oh, I was shooting with 1D Mark IVs then and the 5D Mark IV is even better in low light.


Jun 24, 2017 at 12:24 AM
Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Swimming Meet Help


As a former swimming racer, please DO NOT USE FLASH. The other photogs here who advise against it are very right in that it is distracting and disruptive.

This leaves you to crank up the ISO. I know that's far from ideal, but this is one of those occasions when the files are not going to look ideal. If black and white is an option, you can always get away with a ton more grain with black and white than in color.




Jul 01, 2017 at 05:18 AM
Frank Lauri
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Swimming Meet Help


What is your exact role as team photographer and year book designer. Are you required to feature every kid in the league or program or every event?

Are the league officials aware of these barriers you're faced with. You might want to consider meeting with them to let them know exactly what the issues are and maybe they could move some of the events around...ones usually at the end - move them to the beginning and so on. OR....if there are funds available - possibly get portable lighting (not strobes or flash) to illuminate the pool area during the meets.

But if it is that dark as you indicated - there is definitely going to be a vast difference in the IQ between those from the early events and those towards the end. So it may worthwhile to have a meeting with these officials to see if something can be worked out.

If none of this is possible then maybe you will have to make the unpopular decision to provide images for only the events that are "photographically possible" given the conditions you have.



Jul 01, 2017 at 12:45 PM
 

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glort
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Swimming Meet Help



As off the wall and poo pooed this will likely be.......

Depending on how committed and prepared to invest in it your are, what about LED Lights?

I have bought some LED Lightbars, the type designed for Vehicles and have been doing some shooting with them. They work very well and leave any " Photo/ Video" light I have seen for dead. Especially on price.

They are of course 12V so no electrical danger if you threw them in the pool and they give great light output. Matter of fact, with their IP 68 rating, You could put them on the bottom of the pool and get some really awesome and different shots.
Never done swimming but I assume you could just light one end of the pool and shoot when the swimmers got to that place.

You can also get the LED house style floods in 12V ( although a bit harder to find) and with a much more diffused output. I picked up 5X 30w of this style a few weeks ago for $22.95 for the bunch delivered. Testing them, they aren't quite 30W but for the price, I'm not arguing.

I have Coupled the bar lights to my Lipo car Jump starter pack which will fit in a large shirt pocket and weights nothing and I can still get in excess of 30min run time off the big bar and the same powering multiple smaller ones.

Probably more trouble and expense than you want to go to on this gig but I'm finding a lot of professional and private uses for these lights so look at them as a very handy resource to have. Been using them to light up the back yard for working at night, lending them to friends to light up partys, Indoor shoots etc.


As for flash being distracting..... really?

Things like this always remind me of a complaint and conversation I had many years ago.
Parent was going nuts that my picture taking was putting her daughter off her performance and distracting. Made quite the scene of course.
When she walked away, a guy who I was quite friendly with came up and asked what the problem was. When I explained, his dead pan reply was " Did the daughter win?
Said it all really.

This guy was a champion in the sport and had been through the ranks for his age growing up doing it. His assertion was that if anyone let any outside influence put them off, they simply weren't concentrating hard enough on what they were doing in the first place and were never going to do any good no matter what.
He said I am sometimes aware of you taking pictures but anything outside that ring I don't allow to distract me from what I'm doing because I'll end up dead if I do.

Asking others with runs on the board and blue ribbons on the wall got exactly the same replys. You don't allow yourself to get distracted by anything.

With apologies to those with a different POV and whom may be offended, I think the concentration/ distraction thing in most sports is a crock.
Golfers that get pissy about noise for one thing make me laugh. So many other sports have 100K screaming fans surrounding them in a stadium going off their tits, waving flags, popping flashes left right and centre, throwing stuff on the field, blowing whistles and sounding horns and they have to concentrate on what they are doing just as much as anyone else. Golfers and others have you believe that they can't concentrate and perform in anything but dead silence. Pussys!

I did competition Shooting. Not too many things where pin point accuracy and concentration is more important than in that sport where 1/2" makes the difference between expert and amateur yet you have 19-49 other people around you blasting away and you have to put that out of your head. You can have flags going up beside your target, targets going up and down, reflections, dust, wind..... And that was what I loved about it the most. The fact that somehow I could put EVERYTHING out of my head, worries, anxiety's, stress, .30 cals 3 ft away and just get in the zone and put it all out your of my head and find a comforting peace amoungst the riot going on around me.

Look at rally driving. Guys hurtling through the bush in night stages, getting lit up like daylight by 100 people dropping flashes in their face as they do 100 MPH through corners, sideways, and you never hear them complaining about people taking flash pictures...... and people think that swimmers thrashing up and down a pool with people screaming at them are going to be off put by -A- camera flash?
C'mon!


Might be the mentality of the sport but it sure as hell doesn't stand up to any sort of reason or logic that's for sure.



Jul 02, 2017 at 02:32 AM
Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Swimming Meet Help


Definitely talk to the officials. If anyone might be able to improve things for you, they just might be able to.

I never thought about the light bars. That could be a very worthwhile idea.

But please do not listen to glort's opinion that the no-flash method is unfounded. He's explained himself and the rest of us have explained ourselves. If glort's opinion seems tasty to you, please consider giving your swimmers the courtesy that the sport has afforded them already. Just be nice. Of course, if the officials don't care and the swimmers don't care after you consult them, then flash away.



Jul 02, 2017 at 03:25 AM
glort
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Swimming Meet Help


Oscarsmadness wrote:
Of course, if the officials don't care and the swimmers don't care after you consult them, then flash away.


I would take it as a given that anyone would consult the officialdom and let them know what they were going to do before doing anything.

No matter what they say, logic does not support most sports players being distracted by a flash with so much else going on around them and the amount of mental focus that should be given to what they are doing.

REALITY CHECK:

A quick google search shows the majority of references from people shooting indoor swimming ARE allowed to shoot with flash and i found a US association site that also says it is permissible.
Obviously not the abhorrent sacrilege to the sport some may think.
Check with the officialdom you wish to work with as it appears there is a better than good chance it will be allowed and good sense prevail making your job a lot easier!

One other thing comes to mind.....
Is there a real need to shoot all your pictures during competition?
What about shooting during their training, warmups or non races? I don't see why the pic has to be during a race?

Other thing is, what about doing some set up portraits during training etc? You could create some dramatic lighting and have the kids in the water leaning on the edge of the pool, with the lighting underneath as I suggested or a heap of other creative things. Surely to hell no one is going to bitch whether you use flash or not during training or other non competitive time?
If they did, I'd be telling them to find someone else to do the shots. :0)

I did the squads when I was doing learn to swim underwater work. The older kids didn't want that but a cool looking dramatic shot down low to the water or a gelled backlit shot on the pool edge making them look like they were a champion had them lining up of their own volition. Not an easy thing to accomplish with teenagers and added nicely to the bottom line of what I was doing.



Jul 02, 2017 at 07:39 AM
bipock
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Swimming Meet Help


I did ask about flash, but was told that it is unwelcome and against the rules. I didn't think they would be bothered either if they were really concentrating, but apparently, they are.

I have done some of the pics during warmups, but with warmups, there are 3-4 swimmers per lane swimming, so it's pretty clear they weren't taken during the meet.

Last meet was sunny at the start so I rattled a lot of during then. My the time the last race was run, I was at ISO 25600, 2.8, 1/640 having only 1 set of flood lights and the pool lights. The images weren't bad, but weren't what they could be. Still learning how to handle them.

On a side note, the studio type pics for the yearbook were a huge hit with the kids and parents. I'm doing a set for the seniors next week for the yearbook cover, so I'll come up with a couple good ones for them.



Jul 02, 2017 at 05:38 PM
artyphoto
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Swimming Meet Help


The high school state championships in Iowa allow flash at their indoor venue except for the starts. The flash may disrupt the clarity of the video of the starts, in case a review is needed. I used flash until I got the 5D MkIII, now I just shoot with available light so I can get starts as well. Most of my sales are the out of water photos.


Jul 13, 2017 at 03:25 AM
cocodrillo
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Swimming Meet Help


If you aren't printing big, just milk the high iso and camera raw files... national track and field championships in the North had a distance night under mercury vapour lights. I shot at ISO 10K damn near two stops under-exposed with a 1Dx. With a bit of relatively basic photoshop magic on the raw files I had stuff that was easily good enough to print half page in a magazine. Nothing I'd really want in my portfolio, but definitely useable for most purposes.


Jul 13, 2017 at 03:12 PM
sanqunetti
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Swimming Meet Help


In central Indiana, in both club swimming and high school swimming, there is a light on top of the starting box that flashes simultaneous with the starting sound. This is used to ensure everyone get a fair start in situations where swimmers can not clearly hear the starting sound due to crowd noise or hearing impairment. In most meets flash photography is forbidden at the start but can be used after the start takes place. This can still be a problem when swimming a short course meet in a 50 meter pool. The 50 meter pool is often divided into two 25 yard competition pools. Starts may be taking place on both ends so it becomes more difficult to avoid flashing when a start is taking place in either pool. It's not necessarily a distraction problem while swimming the race, but if a swimmers are relying on the light to make their start, flash photography can cause false starts and get competitors disqualified. Many of the top club swimmers spend 20-30 hours a week training in the pool so they get more than a little upset if you cause a false start and get them disqualified.

Best Regards, Doug Sanqunetti



Jul 19, 2017 at 11:57 PM
wgulker
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Swimming Meet Help


I have just finished taking photos at my last swim HS meet. Our last child just graduated. I have loved being the team photographer for the last 15 years. I have made many team memory books. I could send you a link if you would like.

Low light action photography is all about fast glass and high ISO. A fast lens that may not be too expesive is the 85mm f1.8. The lens is not very long however the f1.8 is nice.

Link to Swim Photos



Aug 20, 2017 at 06:57 PM
bipock
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Swimming Meet Help


Great stuff there wgulker. I finished out the year with several meets with really good light - from the sun - and just drew a line at when I would stop shooting. I used Shutterfly to do their team yearbook and it got rave reviews from all the parents, definitely a huge step up from what they were used to. The team even took the time to give an appreciation gift and a pretty big round of applause from the swimmers and parents.

Already planning for next year. Told my senior on the team he had to come up with a concept for his cover shot (seniors on the cover of the yearbook). The two this year were underwater shots, which I'm learning I really enjoy.



Aug 25, 2017 at 04:47 AM
Microdol
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Swimming Meet Help


wgulker wrote:
I have just finished taking photos at my last swim HS meet. Our last child just graduated. I have loved being the team photographer for the last 15 years. I have made many team memory books. I could send you a link if you would like.

Low light action photography is all about fast glass and high ISO. A fast lens that may not be too expesive is the 85mm f1.8. The lens is not very long however the f1.8 is nice.

Link to Swim Photos


I think you did a wonderful job, kudos to you!



Sep 11, 2017 at 03:52 AM
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