Photo Communication 255, Goshen College


INTRODUCTION Indoor sporting events and night games outdoors both offer unique challenges in taking, processing, and printing. If we wish to use a faster shutter speed to stop motion or a smaller aperture to gain more depth of field, we find that the light is woefully inadequate. Even in daylight, because of the fast action, small balls used, and the distances from the action, photographers generally are forced to take many extra exposures before capturing the quality we have come to expect in an AP photo in the Sports section of the daily paper. PREPARATION In the library, study the sports section of several papers. See what the editors have selected and try to figure out why these particular shots were selected for publication. Compare the differences between photos done by local photojournalists with those provided by international wire services.

Note the ability of the photographers to portray tension, competition, and peak action. Note tight cropping (close up) and diagonal lines of motion. The ball, face(s), and hands are dominant.

Select an example of what you would say is a good sports photo from a newspaper. Photocopy or clip it. Use it as a standard for your own work to compete with for this assignment.

In the text, read relating to photographing things in motion (stopping motion) and the topics that relate to push processing film and pages dealing with sports.

FILM Use Kodak P3200 film, exposed at ASA 1600 or 1200 (not at ASA 3200 unless needed). See "Exposure Test Shots" before you start. If flash is permitted, you may also shoot a role of 400 ASA film using a flash as a second role. Some coaches have asked that flash not be used. In any case, shoot one film without a flash first.

We can also push the 400 ASA film to 1600, but the results do not equal the P3200 film shot at 1600. Our cost for P3200 film is about twice the cost of 400 ASA film.

LENSES Normal lenses are more appropriate in the gym than for the larger playing field. Telephoto lenses are helpful in many events if you have enough light and can steady the camera. Many photographers use a monopod to help steady the camera when long lenses are used. A lightweight tripod with the legs folded together can operate as a monopod to make it more portable. SUBJECT Photograph any evening or night sporting event. Emphasis should be on active competition between opposing team members. Games that are played with a ball must have the ball in the picture, possibly as a center of attention. Include the face of your main character(s) in each shot and any other faces you can. Games that are played with hands and/or rackets should include these in the shots.

In other shots, zero in on some audience reaction at peak moments of excitement or disappointment. Consider a few shots of the coach that show the intensity of the game.

 SETTING THE CORRECT EXPOSURE Take light readings until you are satisfied that you have a good average reading for the exposures you plan to make. If at night, be sure that NO lights are included in your view when you take the exposure readings. A gray card reading is best.

Once you have selected an exposure setting, use that for the whole film unless lighting conditions change. If possible, set your camera to the manual mode. This will avoid underexposures caused by an automatic shutter speed that is fooled when lights happen to be in a picture.

Watch out for the effects of the lights reflected from the gym floor. The light meter may cause underexposures if you read off the bright reflections.

EXPOSURE TEST SHOTS If this is your first P3200, make several (3 to 5) exposures at the beginning of your film (using only the predetermined exposure setting). Include typical subject matter in these exposures. Back in the lab, these will be cut off and developed separately to check for negative density (see "processing test shots"). FRAMING AND COMPOSITION

1. Get close enough to the action so that you will not need to do much cropping while printing to produce a high impact image. Turn the camera to the vertical format position whenever you anticipate a vertical composition.

2. Find camera angles for diagonal action lines in the compositions. Diagonal lines activate the composition.


Telephoto lenses can get the action closer, but they also make focusing very difficult. At 200mm the depth of field is only a few inches.

Practice focusing slightly ahead of the action while you follow the action. While watching the game through the viewfinder you may discover certain types of action shot opportunities that repeat themselves. This allows you to focus on the distance that the action tends to occur and wait for the next opportunity.

MOTION BLUR With a normal lens you will probably need to use a shutter speed of 125 or faster to eliminate blur. Telephoto lenses magnify the size AND the speed of motion. The following factors contribute to motion blur:

1. Slow shutter speed,

2. Faster subject motion,

3. Closeness to the motion,

4. Direction of motion (motion going straight at you or away from you shows less), and

5. Lens focal length (telephoto increases motion blur).

6. Panning (moving camera) (following along with the motion decreases the blur).

7. Waiting for peak action moments reduces blur. The peak action of a highjump is the moment when a highjumper stops going up but has not yet begun to come down.

In spite of their problems, professionals generally do use telephoto lenses at outdoor field games to bring the action in tight. Professionals do not often use zoom lenses because they are not as fast (largest zoom lens aperture tends to be around f/4). This limits light for easy focusing and may limit shutter speeds too much.


Begin by getting the latest information available regarding the best developer, temperature, developing time and agitation routine. Find out what other students have learned using the same materials and shooting speeds. Feel free to check with the instructor about this. Compare your meter to others. Camera meter calibration errors can give you unsatisfactory results even if you do the same processing another student does.

T-max liquid developer is recommended. It is in a square plastic Kodak bottle. Carefully measure out and mix at the exact temperature. Use 2 ounces of liquid concentrate from the Kodak container and 8 ounces of water for each film. Check temperature carefully.


For your first P3200 film, test your processing by developing only your film leader with about three shots attached to it (see "EXPOSURE TEST SHOTS" ). Leave the rest of your film in the cassette. Process these first test shots alone. Save the developer and use it for the whole film.


If the test shots look and print like normal negatives with full contrast and reasonable mid-tones, use the same developer (which you saved), and develop the rest of the film the same way with only a slight increase in time to allow for the using the developer twice. 10 seconds more time should do it. Discard the developer after developing a whole film.

If the negatives from the test look too thin and lack contrast when printing, you'll want to increase the developing time and/or temperature significantly. Increase it least 25%, 50%, or double the time. A 50% increase in developing time will be about the same as one stop more exposure. So, if you negs are only slightly thin, increase from 10 minutes to 15 minutes (if 10 minutes was the original time). If the negs are really thin, consider 50% more time plus 5 degree higher temperature.

If negatives are too dense (black) reduce time and/or temperature.

All pushed film and high-speed film will be grainier. Some newspaper labs use substantially less agitation in hopes of minimizing grain. This also slows the development, so be consistent. Flat white areas will tend to develop more around the edges when there is inadequate agitation, but longer times with less agitation does decrease grain while maintaining contrast.


This assignment will be printed from Photoshop. Using the black and white laser printer in the Computing Center. Examine contacts and negatives. Find at least three shots that you think would be appropriate for use in the Maple Leaf or the Record. Follow separate instructions for scanning and enhancing the negatives before printing them.

Crop to include faces, ball, hands, and action in every print. Use contrast adjustments to achieve full-range prints with both black and white areas, but show as much real mid-range texture as you can.

Burn in around the edges if the print has a light background that wouldn't contrast with the surrounding paper if it was printed in a yearbook or newspaper. Darkening the background may also focus more attention on the subject. Retouch spots and blemishes.


Laser print three 5 x 7 photographs with full contrast as sharp as possible after as much enhancement as possible using Photoshop. Do not manipulate the content beyond what would be ethically acceptable to an honorable photojournalist. Mounting may be borderless or with a border on poster board or better backing.


Bring in your prints, all negatives, all records of shutter speed, f/stop, a list of Photoshop commands used, film processing records, and the photocopy of the newspaper photo you studied before making the original exposures.

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© Marvin Bartel, instructor. 1998, 1999
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