how to play with shutter speed to freeze action


In August 2008, I traveled to Atanta to shoot a heavyweight bout between (then-undefeated) Roman Greenberg and Cedric Boswell.  When I arrived at Center Stage, I was immediately disappointed in the lighting.  Usually, these arenas are so bright, my Canon EF 24-104 f/4 — which is usually all you need at the apron — easily captures the action at a safe shutter speed of 250.  But this night was not like any other.  Even at ISO 3200 a properly exposed shot would click at a speed no faster than 40.  Because I’d become accustomed to using the 24-105, I hadn’t brought along my faster Tamron AF 28-75 f/2.8 XR Di — a lesson for the future.  I did have an EF 70-200 f/2.8 L, but at the apron, a much wider angle is needed.  So I chose to do, for me, the unimaginable — abandon the apron, and move into the stands.  I finally settled into a seat which was high enough to avoid intereference from the ropes, then set up, using my knee to support the lens.  Even now, though, at 80, my speed was insufficient.  This is where shooting in RAW helps. To double my speed I underexposed my shots by one F-Stop — relying on the fact that in Photoshop, I could subsequently process the image at the right exposure, with little loss in quality.  As a result, I shot the fight at ISO 3200, with a speed of 160.  To my surprise, 160 was just fast enough to stop the action in the shot below, the knockout punch.




This entry was posted in techniques & tips.

One Comment

  1. Susan Bradley 12 February 2018 at 7:02 pm #

    Thanks a lot for this great information. I’ve volunteered to photograph some Jazz concerts for Jazz In The Neighborhood, and needed some concrete advice. I have the Canon 24-70, F 2.8, so I think I’ll be ok. But all the other stuff, concentrating on the face and emotions, and where to place yourself – Super helpful.

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