First time Sports (swimming)

Registered: Aug 12, 2012
Total Posts: 84
Country: Austria

Normally i am a People/Lifestyle/Fashion photographer but now I've tried some sport shoots.

Last week i got a phone call from a swimm club guy. He was angry and told me he lost his sports photographer, because he did not want to shoot in there very dark indoor pool. I told him that i am not a sports photographer but he did not care. It was an emergency.
So I wrote a mail to the photographer and asked him what went wrong last time. He answered me quickly. He said it was just too dark and he could not manage to photograph it in the hall. He used a 7D and a 100-400mm Canon Lens. I thought he is a whiner, so i accepted.

A few days later i went out to try it. And it was worse than I thought.
It was cold outside and hot inside. Like a sauna club. My lenses mist up immediately and I could not take pictures. I was on ISO 16.000 @ f/4, a 1/200sec and 300mm was to short... Shutter Speed to Slow, ISO to High and Lens to Short...
And it just got worse. The Light inside was just stupid. The bulbs constantly changed the color temperature. From green to yellow to magenta. Each picture was different.

To get a faster shutter speed and a lower ISO i decided to use a faster (but shorter) lens and crop afterwards in Lightroom.

Main Problem was the color temperature. I could not use the same color temperature for every picture. So i hat to set the color temperature individually in Lightroom for each picture...

Fashion and People Photography is much more easy.

Here are the results:











I think I stay with the fashion business...

suggestions for improvement always welcome!

Registered: May 23, 2009
Total Posts: 202
Country: United States

When I shoot indoor swimming I always show up at least 30 minutes early and leave all my gear in my bag.

Was flash not allowed? Where I shoot only off the blocks is where flash is not allowed.

The ones you posted are pretty good but not much variation. It looks like the same shot over and over but I don't know the venue so I don't know how much you are allowed to move around.

Steven King
Registered: Jun 04, 2007
Total Posts: 400
Country: United States

You did well, and you probably covered all the usable angles for the freestyle and got the classic butterfly shot in #1. You also stayed very low which is very good too. I like the perspective of the last shot, that one along with #3 are good ones for the team to give some interest to the group of pictures.
Usually there are no flashes allowed because the officials think you will have the strobe pointed right at the faces of the swimmers, which is what most parents will do. Next time you could try to go early and talk with the officials and coaches to show them what you will do with a couple of different speedlight/strobe set up locations, then they might let you do it. Plus they like to see things battery powered, at least here in the States, since that means no cords or electricity near the water. Otherwise it works well to set a custom white balance during warm ups in the area where you will shoot the most, and still correct it in post using Lightroom. Typically the lights in swimming natatoriums have lights of different colors that cycle, and there isn't much you can do about that until post processing.

Registered: Oct 01, 2004
Total Posts: 422
Country: United States

This is actually pretty routine to bright light for indoor pools ... The color shifting is a headache. The condensation thing - I arrive early with a handheld hair dryer, find an electric outlet somewhere in the hallway and really warmup all gear before going into the pool area. I have used remote flash but don't like the shadows caused by the water splash. These look especially good in my opinion.

Registered: Jul 29, 2006
Total Posts: 570
Country: United States

I agree with others that think these are well done. Swimming is a tough sport to shoot. I've only shot open water swims (triathlons) where I could get really close. I tried unusual angles, like a bridge over the channel the athletes were swimming in, right on top of them, down at water level, etc. Outside of the butterfly, getting good face shots is difficult. Also, given the color temp issues and low light, I think you did well.

Deborah Kolt
Registered: Dec 27, 2006
Total Posts: 564
Country: United States

Your frustrations are business as usual for indoor sports photography. Now you know why sports photographers get paid the big bucks.

Indoor sports are great for the first game of the season, as we give thanks that we are no longer freezing outside. Then it's back to cursing the idiots who purchase lighting for gyms and pools.

As mentioned above, getting there early and letting your equipment adapt to the ambient temp and humidity is important. Fast lenses help; depending in the size of the pool and shooting positions, the 200 f/2 or 135 f/2 can be great tools.

Set the wb in kelvin, rather than letting the camera waste time figuring out the shifting lights. You will still have shifts, but they will usually be less extreme. Shoot a burst on a grey card to get a starting point for correcting each color phase. Set a manual exposure and be sure not to underexpose, because the red/magenta phase puts out less light anyway.

Although it may not seem like it, you were lucky. As you move to higher levels in swimming, in short pools the swimmers may not even take a breath on some legs, further increasing the challenge. Otherwise, catching faces is just a question of observation and timing. Pay attention to your target's rhythm and watch their shoulders for the muscle movement that precedes lifting their head for a breath.

Registered: Apr 03, 2009
Total Posts: 5927
Country: United States

nice set, humidity with indoor pools in the winter can be bad for pics

Registered: Dec 09, 2012
Total Posts: 31
Country: United States

Not bad for a first timer.