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Figure Skating Photography, Videography, and Visual Storytelling


Maya
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This thread is dedicated to better figure skating photography and videography. There are threads for sharing photos or videos. This one, instead, focuses on sharing experiences and questions about creating figure skating images and videos, such as how to take good photos and videos during figure skating competitions and ice shows; recommended cameras, camera settings, and other equipments; workflows on transferring, organizing, or editing files; recommended software; etc.

 

Edit: Please post photos and videos only when they are related to the experiences that are being discussed or questions you'd like to ask so that this space doesn't become a photo/video sharing one.

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I find the lighting condition during GP Helsinki exhibition quite challenging. It was overall very low light, and the spotlight was quite strong. What kind of camera and setting do you use for this kind of settings?

 

Another question: When you sit on either of the short sides of the arena, your distance from the skater of course varies a lot. Do you zoom in and out? The camera I use doesn't allow zooming during its manual video shooting mode. Do you find any particular camera and setting working well when your seat is on the short side?

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Ah, I'll follow this thread. Sadly I have never been to a skating event or competition, so I can't talk from experience at all, but I would like to see what your experiences are...

 

 I would also like to ask the people who are interested in this sort of thing: have you seen this?

Does anyone here know how to find out the equipment used? I want to do something like this one day, and I'm trying to think if the stabilizer is a really good and pro one or if the quality is because the videographer is an ice dancer...of course the fact that he's an ice dancer is gonna make a huge difference, but mainly I want to see if I can get something close to this, as good as this or better with a really good stabilizer or if he's using like the best there is and I should give up that dream :rofl:

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I'm not a big specialist on Figure skating photography. Helsinki was my second time, after Milan last year. But since I'm quite happy with some of my pictures, I'll give my two cents.

 

I found Gala settings to be easier than competition/practice to be honest. I just underexposed the pictures quite a bit so that the parts in the spotlight well exposed, and used the "sport photo" mode of my camera (i.e : high speed, high ISO setting).

Here are some of my pictures (http://spacealtie.tumblr.com/post/179990200942/some-of-my-pictures-of-yuzuru-hanyu-at-helsinki):

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o2_500.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o1_540.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o5_500.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o6_640.jpg

 

I tweaked a bit these photos with lightroom afterwards (enhanced contrast, mostly), but not much.

 

 

However I find that taking figure skating pictures in general is very challenging. So many pictures taken. So many baaaad pictures, blurry, underexposed, so kuyashii !

- I have a good camera, but the lens I use doesn't have a big enough aperture to take good pictures from afar (Lumix GX80 and 14-140 lens / equivalent to roughly 30-300 mm lens with a reflex camera, f/5.6 with full zooming). I've become really jealous of people with pro or semi-pro materials :)

- It depends a lot on your place in  the rink. During singles competition I was on the small side of the rink, 11th rank. It was a great place to watch the competition, I found, however too far to get pictures with good details. During the gala, pratice, and ice dance competition, I was just above the athlete's entrance and that's by far where I took my best pictures.

- Since I was limited by my zoom, I almost took all my pictures with the biggest magnifying factor. I worked on composition afterwards at home, because those athletes are so. damn. fast.

- I had to tweek a lot the exposure to get good pictures. And I used bracketting all the time to get, you know, the "moment décisif" ;). The "sport pictures" mode of my camera seemed to work well, so I didn't change the other camera parameters myself - but you'll need high ISO and high speed to get not-too-blurry pictures.

- The most challenging I found was to get the right focus in the images ! These guys are so fast, you have no time to change the settings to take the picture, I ended with so many pictures that are blurry in the end because my camera focused on the ice and not on the athletes. And my lens is a bit slow for the autofocus. In the end, I forced my camera to focus always on the same spot of the image, and put the athletes on that spot when taking the picture. It worked all right.

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2 minutes ago, Altie said:

I'm not a big specialist on Figure skating photography. Helsinki was my second time, after Milan last year. But since I'm quite happy with some of my pictures, I'll give my two cents.

 

I found Gala settings to be easier than competition/practice to be honest. I just underexposed the pictures quite a bit so that the parts in the spotlight well exposed, and used the "sport photo" mode of my camera (i.e : high speed, high ISO setting).

Here are some of my pictures (http://spacealtie.tumblr.com/post/179990200942/some-of-my-pictures-of-yuzuru-hanyu-at-helsinki):

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o2_500.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o1_540.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o5_500.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o6_640.jpg

 

I tweaked a bit these photos with lightroom afterwards (enhanced contrast, mostly), but not much.

 

 

However I find that taking figure skating pictures in general is very challenging. So many pictures taken. So many baaaad pictures, blurry, underexposed, so kuyashii !

- I have a good camera, but the lens I use doesn't have a big enough aperture to take good pictures from afar (Lumix GX80 and 14-140 lens / equivalent to roughly 30-300 mm lens with a reflex camera, f/5.6 with full zooming). I've become really jealous of people with pro or semi-pro materials :)

- It depends a lot on your place in  the rink. During singles competition I was on the small side of the rink, 11th rank. It was a great place to watch the competition, I found, however too far to get pictures with good details. During the gala, pratice, and ice dance competition, I was just above the athlete's entrance and that's by far where I took my best pictures.

- Since I was limited by my zoom, I almost took all my pictures with the biggest magnifying factor. I worked on composition afterwards at home, because those athletes are so. damn. fast.

- I had to tweek a lot the exposition to get good pictures. And I used bracketting all the time to get, you know, the "moment décisif" ;).

- The most challenging I found was to get the right focus in the images ! These guys are so fast, you have no time to change the settings to take the picture, I ended with so many pictures that are blurry in the end because my camera focused on the ice and not on the athletes. In the end, I forced my camera to focus always on the same spot of the image, and put the athletes on that spot when taking the picture.

Those are some nice pics!

5.6 :tumblr_inline_n18qr5AMus1qid2nw: must have been hard

I want a camera with a really good follow focus. Particularly for video I'm thinking of a mirrorless Sony but I'm still unsure of what model to buy...and I think I saw a recent review about the new mirrorless Nikon that seemed to have a good follow focus and was tested for sports? Though nothing as fast a skating...also I'd be worried since there are not many objectives for sale yet...

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My camera is mirrorless, but focus is always challenging with it, especially with this lens - I'm more a landscape photograph usually, and landscapes don't move, they all behave nicely ! ;)

The problem with mirrorelss cameras is that you have to rely on what you see on the screen, and that very often the picture seems to be well focused there, but then when you zoom in you realise that it was blurry... That was really my main challenge. At least with my camera.

 

So, really, if somebody has some advices for getting easy focused images, I'll take them gladly :)

 

I also realised but too late that I could take really nice films with it. Next time I'll film the run-throughs...

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Thanks to all the responses.  Glad to see the discussion going.

 

For the time being, my budget doesn't allow me to invest in cameras with detachable lenses.  For ACI and GP Helsinki, I used a Panasonic DMC-FZ300, which has a great zooming range (25-600mm) and constant f2.8 aperture, plus it takes 4K videos and photos. The out-of-focus issue happened frequently, though, when I used any mode other than the motion picture with high speed video settings. Needless to say, I have a serious case of kuyashi, considering my seat at GPF won't be nearly as good as those for ACI and GP Helsinki.

You can see some of the slow-mo videos I created using the high speed video mode below.

 

 

I think the camera is more capable than I know how to use currently. For example, I probably didn't use focus tracking the right way. I'll read carefully the advanced manual before GPF. Anyone here using FZ300, too?

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9 hours ago, LeadenMyr said:

Ah, I'll follow this thread. Sadly I have never been to a skating event or competition, so I can't talk from experience at all, but I would like to see what your experiences are...

 

 I would also like to ask the people who are interested in this sort of thing: have you seen this?

Does anyone here know how to find out the equipment used? I want to do something like this one day, and I'm trying to think if the stabilizer is a really good and pro one or if the quality is because the videographer is an ice dancer...of course the fact that he's an ice dancer is gonna make a huge difference, but mainly I want to see if I can get something close to this, as good as this or better with a really good stabilizer or if he's using like the best there is and I should give up that dream :rofl:

 

I suspect the videographer used a tripod with a 360 degree ball head (such as this one, which I used to shoot the videos posted in my previous post) to produce the smooth panning. 

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9 hours ago, LeadenMyr said:

Those are some nice pics!

5.6 :tumblr_inline_n18qr5AMus1qid2nw: must have been hard

I want a camera with a really good follow focus. Particularly for video I'm thinking of a mirrorless Sony but I'm still unsure of what model to buy...and I think I saw a recent review about the new mirrorless Nikon that seemed to have a good follow focus and was tested for sports? Though nothing as fast a skating...also I'd be worried since there are not many objectives for sale yet...

 

I saw a YouTube video some time ago saying that Sony a6000 had the best automatic focus tracking. It's been a few years. There are newer models. Not sure how they work, especially for high speed sport events.

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9 hours ago, Altie said:

I'm not a big specialist on Figure skating photography. Helsinki was my second time, after Milan last year. But since I'm quite happy with some of my pictures, I'll give my two cents.

 

I found Gala settings to be easier than competition/practice to be honest. I just underexposed the pictures quite a bit so that the parts in the spotlight well exposed, and used the "sport photo" mode of my camera (i.e : high speed, high ISO setting).

Here are some of my pictures (http://spacealtie.tumblr.com/post/179990200942/some-of-my-pictures-of-yuzuru-hanyu-at-helsinki):

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o2_500.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o1_540.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o5_500.jpg

 

tumblr_pi0sllzpqR1rcsic9o6_640.jpg

 

I tweaked a bit these photos with lightroom afterwards (enhanced contrast, mostly), but not much.

 

 

However I find that taking figure skating pictures in general is very challenging. So many pictures taken. So many baaaad pictures, blurry, underexposed, so kuyashii !

- I have a good camera, but the lens I use doesn't have a big enough aperture to take good pictures from afar (Lumix GX80 and 14-140 lens / equivalent to roughly 30-300 mm lens with a reflex camera, f/5.6 with full zooming). I've become really jealous of people with pro or semi-pro materials :)

- It depends a lot on your place in  the rink. During singles competition I was on the small side of the rink, 11th rank. It was a great place to watch the competition, I found, however too far to get pictures with good details. During the gala, pratice, and ice dance competition, I was just above the athlete's entrance and that's by far where I took my best pictures.

- Since I was limited by my zoom, I almost took all my pictures with the biggest magnifying factor. I worked on composition afterwards at home, because those athletes are so. damn. fast.

- I had to tweek a lot the exposure to get good pictures. And I used bracketting all the time to get, you know, the "moment décisif" ;). The "sport pictures" mode of my camera seemed to work well, so I didn't change the other camera parameters myself - but you'll need high ISO and high speed to get not-too-blurry pictures.

- The most challenging I found was to get the right focus in the images ! These guys are so fast, you have no time to change the settings to take the picture, I ended with so many pictures that are blurry in the end because my camera focused on the ice and not on the athletes. And my lens is a bit slow for the autofocus. In the end, I forced my camera to focus always on the same spot of the image, and put the athletes on that spot when taking the picture. It worked all right.

 

There are many lousy photos that I could contribute to the shitty Yuzu photo champion hashtag on Twitter :1: So, yeah, I can totally relate to your kuyashi. But, hey, even good photographers would feel happy if they produce 10 or even just 5 good photos every day. I'm hopeful that learning from each other here will help us improve.

 

You probably already know this: if you include "raw" in the files of photos you shoot in addition to jpg, you can tweek exposure and many other parameters afterwards with Lightroom. I haven't had time to process the raw files from recent trips, but knowing they are there gives me some peace of mind.

 

Keeping the skater in focus is indeed a challenge. Even though I used continuous focus, my camera still struggled at times, perhaps because its processor just couldn't handle the speed fast enough. I don't know if your camera behaves the same way, but I found that when I press the shuttle half way during shooting a video, it helps the camera focus faster. I'll explore other options such as automatic focus tracking and registering faces and see which works best. 

 

 

 

 

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Another question I have is about the workflow. One aspect of it is about file transfer. My strategy to have the best chance of producing good images is to take a lot of them, and take videos that allow me to extract high-resolution stills. Needless to say, the combined file sizes are huge. During a competition, I easily shoot 10GB or more files in a day. It takes a long time to transfer such volume of files to an external hard drive using my 4+ year old Macbook Pro, and much much longer to upload to my Google Drive using wifi. It's a real pain. For the time being, I just keep buying micro-SD cards. What are your strategies?

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2 hours ago, Maya said:

Thanks to all the responses.  Glad to see the discussion going.

 

For the time being, my budget doesn't allow me to invest in cameras with detachable lenses.  For ACI and GP Helsinki, I used a Panasonic DMC-FZ300, which has a great zooming range (25-600mm) and constant f2.8 aperture, plus it takes 4K videos and photos. The out-of-focus issue happened frequently, though, when I used any mode other than the motion picture with high speed video settings. Needless to say, I have a serious case of kuyashi, considering my seat at GPF won't be nearly as good as those for ACI and GP Helsinki.

You can see some of the slow-mo videos I created using the high speed video mode below.

 

 

I think the camera is more capable than I know how to use currently. For example, I probably didn't use focus tracking the right way. I'll read carefully the advanced manual before GPF. Anyone here using FZ300, too?

 

Hello ~ and Thank You!  ~  I had found your beautiful vids on Youtube already, and have started a Slo~Mo Yuzu playlist. Only one other vid on there at the moment. 

+

I've also this weekend put together a general playlist, a gathering of favourite videos  - I've put them in basically chronological order -  39 vids so far, and I'll be adding to it.

I'm not sure if this is the right thread to share it in, but along with the slo-mo synchronicity, I'll share this one too - YuzuZuzuru  ~ Enjoy!  :tumblr_m3j73lVQHJ1qid2nw:

 

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1 hour ago, hunny said:

 

Hello ~ and Thank You!  ~  I had found your beautiful vids on Youtube already, and have started a Slo~Mo Yuzu playlist. Only one other vid on there at the moment. 

+

I've also this weekend put together a general playlist, a gathering of favourite videos  - I've put them in basically chronological order -  39 vids so far, and I'll be adding to it.

I'm not sure if this is the right thread to share it in, but along with the slo-mo synchronicity, I'll share this one too - YuzuZuzuru  ~ Enjoy!  :tumblr_m3j73lVQHJ1qid2nw:

 

 

Hello! Thanks for putting together the playlists. This thread, though, is for sharing experiences and asking questions about figure skating photography and videography,  Posting/sharing videos and photos or links to them is mainly for illustrating experiences discussed or related questions. Sorry my OP and post with three slow-mo videos didn't make it clear.

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12 hours ago, Altie said:

My camera is mirrorless, but focus is always challenging with it, especially with this lens - I'm more a landscape photograph usually, and landscapes don't move, they all behave nicely ! ;)

The problem with mirrorelss cameras is that you have to rely on what you see on the screen, and that very often the picture seems to be well focused there, but then when you zoom in you realise that it was blurry... That was really my main challenge. At least with my camera.

 

So, really, if somebody has some advices for getting easy focused images, I'll take them gladly :)

 

I also realised but too late that I could take really nice films with it. Next time I'll film the run-throughs...

 

Some cameras have the "post focus" feature, which as I understand would allow you to fix focusing issues after the fact. Might your camera have that feature, too?

 

Focus tracking is another feature that might alleviate the focusing problem. Increasing number of models have it. It can be used in conjunction with face detection, which requires pre-registration of the face of the person you'd like to focus on.

 

How do these features work for figure skating motion and still images? Please share your experiences if you've used any of them.

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36 minutes ago, Maya said:

 

Hello! Thanks for putting together the playlists. This thread, though, is for sharing experiences and asking questions about figure skating photography and videography,  Posting/sharing videos and photos or links to them is mainly for illustrating experiences discussed or related questions. Sorry my OP and post with three slow-mo videos didn't make it clear.

 

Ok - thank you! :snonegai:

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