Shooting Synchro Skating WC 2011 — Tech Tips

Shooting Synchro Skating WC 2011 — Tech Tips

Team Sweden 2, shot with Canon TS-24 on Eos 5Dmk2 

I had a couple of questions yesterday and today on some equipment — plus the always flattering “how the hell did you do that” comments — so I just thought I post quickly some pointers.

Three FW-800 readers and one USB

Somebody asked on my cardreader… Yes, it is three Lexar readers daisy-chained together using the FW-800 port on my MBP; the fourth one on the top is a standard USB-reader. Why this set-up? Well, I work with four cameras (two remotes and two in my hands), so I don’t have to switch cards at all when I do the editing. Plus, when I am going thru card number 1, Photo­mec­hanic is already loading the previews on the other cards. So why not have four FW-800 readers? Because my Mac only has one FW-800 port (and no FW-400). If that port for whatever reason stops operating, I’d be screwed if I did not have a USB back-up. Plus: Canon EOS 1D can use also SD-cards; should I for some reason not use CF but go SD; I need a reader for it.

The “weird” DOF — like my opening shot? Tilt-Shift (24mm) on a remote — no, no photoshop to get that effect, it’s “straight out of the camera” as they say. Shooting raw, naturally, so there is image editing, but no soft masks. Here’s another one:

Team USA with 24mm Tilt-Shift

One thing I learned is that when using Manfrotto’s hydraulic magic arms it’s a smart idea to take away all excess of weight. Just makes it easier. So I stripped my EOS 5Dmk2’s by taking away the trans­mitters n the bottom. The trans­mitter (WFT-E4 IIB)) is real nice piece of work if you need to access the camera in the middle of the action (it has built in server software, so you can access it easily with e.g. an iPad with no extra software needed — and e.g. download images if you need to). But I had no real need for that, so I took the trans­mitters off.

What’s wrong with the image?

I used Multimax remotes for firing, one channel and then subchannels (A, B, …) to diffe­ren­tiate between the remote cams. I clamped the remotes on metal bars, next to the rink, secured them with climbing leashes. Multimax radio NOT on top of the cam but hanging below it. A skater might come very close to the side and acciden­tally hit it with a hand — and you DO NOT WANT any pieces of your equipment flying to the ice.

And DO NOT leave the hood on… for the same reason: you don’t want it to be flying around to the ice. And yes, I did take mine off from the camera on the right… ;-)

The photo-chief was a good friend of mine, so she gave me basically free hands to do what I want — but “don’t disturb anybody and don’t f*** up anything…” ‑reminder ringing in the back of my head.

Thus: I was very careful asking for permission from the people on the first row i.e. if they’d mind me setting up a remote on the bar in front of them — little courtesy and being polite makes a big diffe­rence when dealing with people. And a big “thank you” to these people, should any of them be reading this.

Mrk4 on the leg of the TV-cam platform. The resulting image below.

On Saturday I noticed that the leg of a TV-cam in the corner would be an optimal position for a remote. A very low angle. I asked the cameraman for permission to do it and he gave me thumbs up, so I set it there. Took me some practicing to get the angle, focus and exposure as I wanted them but I think the trouble paid off. Aamulehti (at least) ran the image pretty big this morning (image below).

On the whole, what would I do diffe­rently next time? Very simple: TS-45mm lens, from a bit elevated position. That’d be cool. And make a point of seeing all the practises before I set the remotes. That is crucial — but this time I got lucky.

The gallery I made from the games is now updated.

12 Replies to “Shooting Synchro Skating WC 2011 — Tech Tips”

    1. Cheers -

      you cracked me… :-) Yup, I have gotten some of that feedback i.e. that I write tooo-ooo long. Trouble is: it started as a hobby… got into a profession… developped into a passion… and now, it is an obsession. Especially if I talk about multi­media and stuff… But: I promise to work on that.
      Thanks for commenting.

  1. Thanks for the mini-tutorial Kari! And no need to shorten the writing :) The value of posts like this is not small I think. Myself for example, except for a few basics of photo­graphy courses, I have no formal training. Everything I know or have a remote clue of, I have absorbed by searching, reading, comparing and trying out stuff those who are more advanced on the subject have written or shared in one way or another. Being self taught doesn’t mean you can, or would want to, actually invent all the wheels all by yourself.

    A silly question about remote shooting in low light events like this, where the subjects move unpre­dic­tably: manual focus beforehand in the area where you know or guess the action will take place, or auto focus? I’m thinking in the former, if you need a wide aperture, the shallow DOF becomes an issue when you want the skater(s) in focus. And how would you autofocus from the other side of the rink as the skaters fly by? Do you use wireless tethered shooting seeing what the camera sees on your laptop screen, or just fire the remote when you see the action approaching that camera?

    As you can see, you gave the little finger, so I’m going for the arm… I don’t mean to turn your blog into a classroom!

    1. Sami hi -

      sorry it took a while, lots of stuff going on…
      Focusing the remotes? Depends on the camera, subject, lens etc. Like with the one I used from the lower angel (Canon 1D mrk4) I had ai-servo, all the focus points. The TS-24 on the side of the rink on 5Dmkr2 was manual focus. Exposure manual in both cases.
      No, no iPad or iPhone to focus or see the image prior of taking it. Too slow. Pocket Wizard Multimax to release the shutter. Then, if you’d like, you could see how the picture turned out and adjust the camera (speed, iso, aperture, focus, wb, etc.) thru an iPad… or download the images and file away immediately should you need to. But I had no need for that.
      But for instance, if the compe­tition is athletics so you have access to your camera only around midnight when the compe­tition is totally over, so then it is a different matter.
      Talking of athletics, just heard some real wild rumors about the regula­tions of setting up remotes etc. in London Olympics… Boy, our life will be pretty hard over there if the rumors are correct.
      I hope this was of some help.

      1. Thanks Kari, very illumi­nating indeed!

        Well I hope they won’t put too many hurdles on your track (pun not intended, or maybe it is) in the Olympics. A bit baffling why organiza­tions whose whole business depends on media exposure would want to make life difficult for the very same media. Can’t see how a few DSLRs sitting somewhere will be a major intrusion. How they may help to provide impacting images otherwise not available is easier to get. Oh well.

        1. Sami -

          a quick answer. London: if anywhere we are going to have tight security — and for a reason — that’s it. It’s not to bother media. It’s for the safety of all. Think about all the TV-cams turned into that place and how vulne­rable the whole infra­structure is. Frankly, I’m not totally thrilled about the whole games.

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