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I’d never photographed a lacrosse game before so I was intrigued when the mom of a high school student asked me to do a series of photographs of her daughter in casual dress, a hunting gear, and her lacrosse goalie outfit. Her request could be easily accommodated in our studio. During our discussion to pick a date she mentioned that her daughter would be playing lacrosse at a tournament nearby the next Saturday. I immediately asked if she could get permission for me to photograph the event and her coach approved my request. Whenever we can go out of our way to create a truly unique photograph, we’ll do our best without any additional cost to our client.

Early the next Saturday morning I arrived at the event site. First problem was the sun was just below the horizon and the skies were overcast. I was using a Nikon 200-500mm lens that requires an aperture setting no lower than f5.6. Even though I was shooting with a Nikon D5 (known for its ability to produce quality images a very high ISOs) I am typically reluctant to shoot with a high ISO setting. However, I really didn’t have many options so I pushed the camera up to ISO-1600 and those settings worked for me. I mounted the camera onto a Manfoto tripod and adjusted the lens to M/A (automatic focus) and the focus range from infinity to six meters for slightly faster focusing. Next, I turned the VR (vibration reduction) feature to “off” since the camera was on a tripod and turned the activity setting to “SPORT.” Because the skies were gray and overcast, I knew my initial shots would have a blue cast; I let the camera automatically adjust the Kelvin temperature. I positioned myself with the sun to my back and took a few test shots. The first images were, as expected, slightly blue, but since I was shooting in RAW/NEF mode I knew I could easily adjust the color cast in post processing. My next decision was to use spot focusing (I later switched over to group focusing) using a continuous setting. I was now ready to begin shooting.

The D5 with the 200-500mm is an amazing combination of fast, accurate focusing and rapid capturing of a moving subject (absolutely no delay). I pushed myself (and the camera) to catch the players moving in front of the lens while tracking a single player. Results were terrific. After about a third of the game I decided to switch up to 1/1000th of a second since the sun was starting to break through the clouds behind me and I decided to switch from spot focusing to GRP (group) focus as way of seeing which mode produced better results (they both worked just fine). Later on, I dropped the shutter speed down to 1/200th of a second. It produced only a little blur and I should have dropped down to 1/50th of a second to capture more blur. I ended the game back at 1/500th of a second.

Hopefully this will give beginning photographers an idea of the settings I chose in shooting a sporting evens under cloudy, early-morning conditions.

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