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Yet another night football thread
Michael Starghill, Photographer, Assistant
Bethesda | MD | United States | Posted: 6:15 PM on 08.27.07
->> I shot my first night high school football game on Friday and was very frustrated with the results.  First I'll give you a rundown of my equipment.  Canon Rebel XT (which I know is probably the second biggest contributor to my frustration...right behind operator error).  70-200 2.8 and 580 EX flash. I read most of the threads about night time football about the ISOs, red eye issues and camera settings but couldn't really make a good image. My most glaring issues are that I can't shoot faster than 1/200th of a second and that there are no ISO intervals between 800 and 1600. Now I'm trying to make it work with the equipment I have and it seems to not be working. Is shooting night time high school football with a canon rebel xt a complete impossibility? If not, can someone let me know the secret?


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Cecil Copeland, Photographer
Marietta | Ga | USA | Posted: 6:47 PM on 08.27.07
->> I don't think it's an impossibilty ...

The first thing I'd do is to get your flash off of your camera and trigger it with a pocket wizard or one of those wireless flash triggers that you can get off of e-bay (they do work well for this application). Then set your camera and your flash on manual with your flash at 1/4 power or 1/8 power (you may have to experiment with that). Then try your camera settings at ISO 1600; f2.8; 1/320 and see how an image looks with those settings. Make adjustments based on what you see (or don't see!). I think 1/320 may be the fastest shutter speed you can get without the curtain taking part of your image - but you might try it at 1/400 just to see "what if" ....

Hope that helps ....
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Bryan Hulse, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | Co | USA | Posted: 7:07 PM on 08.27.07
->> Off camera flash at night football? I am a big off camera flash advocate, but I haven’t figured out how to make that work. Yes, I could give a flash to an assistant and have them track the action, but how reliable is that? At least not so much with my assistant (my son).
Yes, I can (and do) put the flash on a bracket, or monopod, or fabricate a high bracket, but it is still much more like on camera flash, than off.
I can place strobes to cover part of the field, but that only gets me coverage for a small part of the field.
What are you suggesting? Please! :)
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David Luoto, Photographer
Gastonia | NC | USA | Posted: 7:28 PM on 08.27.07
->> I would take the flash off also or use it in manual mode like Cecil suggested. I'm not sure if your camera will go to ISO 3200. I shoot at 1600 ISO on the better fields or 3200 ISO on some of the darker fields and the most shutter speed I can get is around 1/320 sometimes 1/400. Then I have to run it through a noise reduction program.

This is pretty much my set-up for high school basketball.

Good luck!
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Carl Auer, Photographer
Eagle River | AK | USA | Posted: 7:50 PM on 08.27.07
->> Move to Alaska where the games start 2 weeks before the "Lower 48" and we are still in the time of the "Land of the Midnight Sun". Seriously, I shot my first 7pm start at ISO 400 and at 9pm I was still at 400 ISO and 1/640th shutter speeds.

First advice for flash I can give is, do not shoot the flash on E-TTL. Pop that puppy over to manual power and dial it down to about 1/4 power. This will do two things for you. Give you the same amount of light each time and recycle quickly. My personal experience with E-TTL and football is that sometimes it will produce a great looking image and the next ten shots are over exposed, under exposed, or just flat out yucky. TTL works just like your in camera meter. If it sees a dark overall subject it will increase the flash output, but if it is a very lightly colored subject, it will lower the power of the flash. Your exposures will be all over the place. Set your ISO to around 800 and the shutter to 1/200th. Your lens you might want to put around f3.2 just to give a little more depth of field. Then take some test shots. If things look good, you are ready. To bright, drop the iso down or change the flash power to 1/8th. To dark, bump the flash up to 1/4 or 1/2, or bump your ISO up to 1600. Leave the shutter at your X-Sync and do not think about changing the flash setting to HSS so you can increase your shutter. That will drastically reduce the range of your flash.

As for getting it off camera, as stated, basically, just get it off of the hotshoe. If you have the off camera cord and a flash bracket, that will work great. I personally use two vivitar 283's mounted on my monopod about 18" bellow the camera. This gets the flashes far enough from the lens to cut way down on red eye, but I will not have to do that for another 2 or three weeks here when we really start to have our daylight hours shrinking.

Another option is a flash on a stick, which has been used successfully by many SS members. Mount a flash to a monopod with a pocket wizard, have an assistant hold it and stay around 10 yards away from you, pointing the flash at the action, and fire away.

As for the camera, the Xt is not impossible to use for night football, but it is far from ideal. The low light focusing of 1 series cameras would work better for you, or a 20/30/40D. These cameras have a higher X-Sync (1/250th and 1/500th for the original 1D) but will just track subjects better than the Xt. I had the Xt for a while, as a back up to my 1D and there was more than a few times that I wanted to throw it at a brick wall.
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Bryan Hulse, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | Co | USA | Posted: 7:52 PM on 08.27.07
->> Yes, I personally put it on a flash bracket and/or a monopod. But I still think the results aren't that great.
I have some other ideas up my sleave for this season. But I thought I'd see if someone else had a jump on my thinking. I guess not.
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Brian Mount, Student/Intern
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 8:10 PM on 08.27.07
->> I've found that its all about experimenting with different techniques. What I have found with my 20d and 580ex is f2.8 @ 1/400th at iso 1600. It all depends on the lighting situation at the various stadiums, I've been at some where you can probably light the field better with flash lights than the stadium lights they have, others were almost like shooting at dusk. Just keep track of your settings for each stadium that you shoot at and see what works best for you. I know that on the 580ex it has the option for high-sync, which will allow you to go above the 1/250th shutter speed that most cameras now have without having the shutter curtain in your photo. Most of the football photos in my portfolio gallery on my page were used with these settings and they tend to work almost 100% of the time for me, but again you have to figure out what settings work for you. As for where the flash would go I normally just keep it in the hotshoe, which some would disagree with but its what works for me. Just experiment and keep track of your notes.
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Michael Starghill, Photographer, Assistant
Bethesda | MD | United States | Posted: 11:08 PM on 08.27.07
->> Thanks, everyone, for your advice. Let's see if next Friday goes a little bit better
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Thread Title: Yet another night football thread
Thread Started By: Michael Starghill
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