View Full Version : Night Action Photography

10-10-2008, 08:19 AM
I have just purchased a Nikon D300 and a Nikon D70, does anyone have any tips on changing the settings to help adapt for night action photography. The lights have hotspots. I am shooting a youth rodeo and by the time bullriding comes up it is dark. On the bulls I can use flash but this happens so quick that it is best not to use flash if you can keep away from it. I am using a 50m 1.8 lens. With the D70 I can max out the ISO take the shutter speed to stop the action but on the D300 there are so many new features that I don't know where to begin. On the events with horses I will not use flash because I don't want to spook the horses, since the children are mostly beginners and do not have good control over the horse.

10-10-2008, 09:44 AM
Cameras have 3 settings for exposure. It could be a D300 or a tiny point and shoot. They work the same. A combination of opening up the aperture and raising the ISO will get you the shutter speed you need to stop the action. It's a noise versus depth of field compromise.

Visual Reality
10-10-2008, 03:18 PM
One trick you could use if you can't get enough shutter speed:

Use a very slow shutter speed - bulb mode is ideal. Turn ISO to its lowest setting, and use a very small aperture. Enough that most images would be almost black. Hold the shutter, take a flash unit and flash the subject once, then let go of the shutter. You just managed a "speed" of thousands of a second in the dark :)

The compromise here is depth of field, however due to the flash range there may not be much exposed behind your subject anyway. It can be used very effectively if you are close enough and the light just isn't good enough to get a good shot without max ISO.

Dread Pirate Roberts
10-10-2008, 09:13 PM
VR I didn't understand why to do that, could you explain it differently for me?

To get a faster shutterspeed on the D300 I'd hold the iso button on top left of cam and rotate the thumbwheel to around ISO800 or a touch higher.

I'd shoot in apperture by pressing mode on the top right and rotating the thumbwheel till it shows "A".

I'd set the apperture pretty big by rotating the forefinger wheel till F1.8.

Other people would probably use the "auto iso" feature (in your manual) and shoot in shutter priority mode but it's not what I do.

Visual Reality
10-10-2008, 09:52 PM
Actually it's better to use Aperture Priority with Auto ISO most of the time...but it depends on the situation. Reason is to keep from overexposing in bright scenes the camera would have to close down the aperture (tradeoff, depth of field) instead of increasing the shutter speed.

Anyway the method I explained isn't talked about much, but if you think about it, the camera only sees what you want it to see. By painting the target with a quick burst of light that only lasted thousandths of a second, you can freeze virtually any moving object in total darkness. It only saw the image for a split second, so that's what your final result is. Otherwise it doesn't expose anything with such "dark" settings. Get it? ;)

10-10-2008, 11:49 PM
VR I didn't understand why to do that, could you explain it differently for me?

Remember that shot Andrew did a while ago where there was a sequence of his mate going a high kick at Judo?
He used the same basic technique.

10-11-2008, 02:34 AM
Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words, but I'll put the explanation from my flickr account with the picture aswell.

Set camera on long exposure, turned off almost all the lights. Had 2 flashes lighting him, SB600 camera right and SB-26 camera left. Put the SB-26 into optical slave mode. SB-26 was held by a voice activated light stand (girlfriend) and moved with the subject to keep the same distance between flash and subject. Fired the flashes by setting the SB600 to manual mode 1/16 and pressed the test button 5 times in the 4 second exposure. f/3.8, ISO 200, both flashes 1/16 power.

10-11-2008, 04:16 AM
SB-26 was held by a voice activated light stand (girlfriend) and moved with the subject

That is some expensive gear there:D

10-13-2008, 12:08 AM
Another way to get the same effect if you don't have a girlfriend :(. The sb800 has a repeat feature that allows you to set the strength and number of flashes during a single exposure.

This example was taken using a 2 second exposure, flash set to repeat at 1hz 4 flashes, iso 400 f11. I simply moved my head as the flash was cycling, granted not pretty, but amusing. Although doubt this would do much for your rodeo shoot. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3089/2653455980_4d1b8a166c.jpg

with your 50 I would be suprised if you need more that iso 800 shooting at 2 to 2.8 to get a little depth. Of course your 50 is basically a 75 so you have a short tele and with good panning technique, at 1/200 to 1/250 I would expect you to get some good shots.