Sports Photography Auto Focus

Sports Photography For Parents – Auto Focus Mode

I see more and more DSLR’s at kids’ sporting events. It’s sports photography opportunities for proud parents. Some parents have even moved beyond their kit lens and purchased a zoom lens.  Cameras, like lenses, come in varied qualities. The quality of the equipment does have an consequence on the quality of the pictures you take.  You, the ‘picture taker’, can increase your chances of capturing that great shot of your kid catching the ball, making that block or scoring that shot.  Here is one suggestion.

Most parental sports photographers I meet up with shoot in one of the many program modes.  Knowing this, as smart as  your camera is, until you get off the program modes and on to manual or semi-manual modes, your pictures will never be GREAT.  That said, one thing you can do is change the AF (auto focus) mode on your camera.  If you have a Canon, set it to AI SERVO.  If you have a Nikon, set it to AF-C (the C is for continuous).  Refer to your manual to change the AF settings for your particular camera make and model.

What this does is when you depress your shutter button, half-way, the camera will continue to focus on the moving object.  You can also fully hold the shutter down and the camera will auto focus while shooting. When doing this, your camera will enter “release priority mode” and it will take pictures when the shutter is down regardless of if the image is in focus or not. This will increase your chances of getting an in-focus shot when your kid is running down the field.  Take into account some lenses focus quicker than others.

Taking in-focus photographs is dependent on more than just your AF Mode, and we will talk about those in future articles.

If you’re interested in private lessons give me a call.  You can also check out the Lessons page.

Oak Show Choir

Shooting In Low Light: Show Choir – Closing Night

The Oak Show Choir had their closing night performance for the 2015-2016 season.  I had to pleasure to photograph this last concert. The biggest challenge was shooting in low light conditions.  This was overcome with fast glass and high ISO.  I couldn’t sacrifice shutter speed due to the fact that the kids were dancing.  But, I couldn’t go too fast as my shots would have been far to dark.

Other challenges included: Irregularly lit stage (many hot and dead spots), not being able to move from my location, and stationary items that sometimes blocked the kids. That said, challenges are meant to be overcome.  Get the shot no matter what.

The low-light was overcome by, what I mentioned earlier, fast glass.  Fast glass refers to lenses with large apertures. The aperture is the opening of a lens.  I shot with a f 2.8 and a f 2.0.  I used the f 2.8 only for a short time.  It is a wide angle lens and I wanted shots of the entire ensemble. This did not work as I had hoped since the piano player, in the live band, was right smack in the middle of every shot.  So, I switched to my f 2.0 zoom lens and focused in on single or small group shots.

I also mentioned that I shot at a high ISO.  It wasn’t too high, 1600 ISO.  Most cameras today can easily handle this.  That being true, due to the low-light there was some graininess. Don’t be afraid of grain though.  Far too many think grain is a bad thing.  We are getting so used to High Definition TV’s that we want everything crystal clear.  The end results is that we think that any grain is bad.  It’s not.  So, don’t stress on it. In the days of film, we didn’t stress on it. What is more important, in this case, is capturing a point in time that is very important to these kids and their family. If it was a commercial shoot, that would have been a different story and we would make allowances to address it.

I ended the evening with around 300 really nice shots.  If you’re a parent or student, and you wish to purchase any shots, please contact me to view a private gallery.

Bands of Santiago Sharks

Great Year With The Band

I am nearly finished spending a great year photographing BOSS (Bands of Santiago Sharks).  These young musicians led by Kris Parish and Joe Dudek comprise the award-winning bands that have marched in the Rose Parade and performed at Carnegie Hall, just to name two.

It started off just before school started, at “band camp”.  Three days of MARCHING under the hot sun.  Most of the kids didn’t know me, nor where they entirely comfortable having a camera pointed at them.  This quickly changed.  Over this past year they have learned to ignore me, in a good way.  It’s been a combination of me becoming somewhat invisible to them and they becoming more comfortable with the camera.

The first half of the season they MARCHED – football games, parades and competitions.  The second half, they performed in one of four bands and/or one of four jazz ensembles.  In being the photographer, documenting there growth visually, I had the added honor of hearing them grow as musicians.  This is especially exciting since my son is involved, playing multiple instruments in multiple bands. I spent a large portion of my life in the music business as a player, audio engineer and producer.

It’s been an amazing ride.  I got 7 more years to go with BOSS, can’t wait to see what is captured.

For more images go to 3penguins.shootproof.com/santiago

Joe Randeen
3 Penguins Photography
714.225.7674

BOSS BOSS BOSS Band CampSocial Media Badge

Photographing Children

Expressions of Kids

Capturing Real Life

I just love the expressions of kids.  At some point in a persons life, they start growing shy of the camera.  Not of their own camera obviously, because selfies are a must in most peoples lives.  But, when they see a DSLR pointed in their direction, they turn, shout “NO” and/or run away. But not kids.

In fact, sometimes it’s hard to have them play down the cameras presence.  Who cares though.  If you can capture some shots of realism – let them run the show.

It Don't Fit

Photographers are taught and strongly encouraged to get the eyes in the shot.  Albeit very true and important, sometimes you can’t and shouldn’t.  This girl is so focused on getting the food on her fork.  If I had called out her name she would have looked up and it would have been a nice shot, but I much prefer this.

Kids Portrait

In this shot, the eyes are necessary.  She’s inviting us in to her world, which currently consists of this wonderful dessert that she may or may not share with us.  Her eyes, along with her smile, tell such a wonderful story.

Kiddos

This photo is a mixture of posed and spontaneity. I gathered the kids but they all made up their individual minds on how they wanted to be shot.  Take a look at the redhead in the left lower corner versus the blond girl next to her.  How about the young man in the back?  Everyone is in their own little world, telling their own story.

Kids Running

From a technical standpoint, this shot is awful.  It’s over-exposed and under-exposed.  If this was entered into a contest it would get thrown out immediately.  Who cares.  I love it.  It shows the joy of these kids running, playing and having fun.  In such a case, the rules get thrown out.

the look

Again, in this shot, the eyes are essential – the girls’ that is – not her dads.  I’m sure that her eyes speak something different to me, since I was in the moment with her, than they do to others who look at this picture. Regardless, they are telling a story.

Kids at Play Run, Run, Run

I love these two pictures because, as a parent, there are NO electronic devices.  It’s kids running, playing, having fun, the way I did growing up – the way kids should have fun.

Cooper's Eyes

This may look posed to some, but I saw this young man sitting on a bench just trying his all to keep warm.

As a photographer, my preferred way to approach a shoot with children is to let them play, have fun with them and allow them to be themselves.  That is one of the reasons that most shoots will take a couple of hours, at least.  I often hear from parents, “my kids won’t last that long.”  If we are trying to pose them the entire time that is probably true.  Instead, let’s get together and play – the time will fly by and we will come out of it with some fantastic memories, in pictures.

Joe Randeen
714.225.7674

Bands of Santiago Sharks Concert Photo

Event Photography for Programs

Event Photography

I had the pleasure of photographing the Bands and Color Guard for Santiago High School for two seasons now.  This year I was asked to design the programs for the Band Concerts. My experience in event photography came in handy.  Most of the photographs needed to be taken in low-light situations, both indoor and outdoors.

I love photographing events such as concerts, dance and theater performances, especially with kids and young adults because these photographs will become mementos for them and their children.

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These two initial programs needed both color and black and white photographs.  I wanted individual shots or the musicians as well as group shots.  At the time, most of the photographs I had shot were those of the marching band season, yet both programs where concerts.  That forced me to ‘fake’ some of them.  That is, I shot rehearsal, and close ups to give the sense of concert shots.  After the first event I increased the number of shots I could draw from.

At the time of posting this, there was a gallery of photos to draw from. (Depending on when you read this the gallery may no longer be available).

There is also an event page at EVENTS as well as at 500px.