Being able to capture a shot under any set of conditions is a key element in sports photography. Nights like this are one of the challenges. With no floodlights and dark skies upon arrival a quarter to seven kick off is a late start for a local amateur game. By half time light was fading significantly with the last twenty minutes being played in conditions where most other matches would have been stopped. I continued to shoot right through to the end despite knowing that most of my gallery was going to come from the first half of the match.
I want to explain things in a little more technical terms for those who find that sort of information useful. Basically I like to keep my shutter speed at around 1/1250 shooting at an aperture of f/2.8 for football. I feel it’s a nice speed for freezing the action including legs/arms etc that may be moving quickly.
As the second half progressed the ISO required for the above settings was rising rapidly. The 1DX is capable of going to silly ISOs like 256,000 but I try not to go above 6400 where possible. With twenty minutes to go I was at 6400 and I could see the camera light meter telling me I was starting to shoot underexposed. I decided to start sacrificing shutter speed instead of pushing the ISO higher. By the time the game finished I was shooting at 1/640 at ISO6400 which is about as low as I could go to keep the action frozen.
To my eyes the picture quality is never satisfactory at these settings but the important thing is that I do have pictures. If something important happens then there is an image to call upon. Last night a third goal was scored close to the end of the match and the player ran towards the camera offering a great celebration shot. It’s the header image for this post and probably the defining image of what was a close match. I think it’s also a great example of the importance of having the right equipment and being willing to push it to the limit to get that shot under challenging circumstances.
Despite the conditions tonight there are another round of Kingdom of Fife AFA league fixtures next Tuesday evening. With the same kick-off times scheduled I can already see next week being even tougher.