Over the years, whether for the Indianapolis Star Newspaper or for other organizations I have had the opportunity to shoot quite a few different sporting events.  What most people wanting to get into shooting sports get hung up on is that they don’t realize how similar of a mentality shooting any individual sport can be.  The hardest part (aside from having the gear required) is simply deciding what you need to do to shoot said sport.  Knowing your camera, and having the correct auto focus setting also helps; but lots of people can’t get past that.  That’s why when I was approached by Roberts Camera here in Indianapolis about teaching a Sports Photography workshop where we would have a class portion to get through the nitty gritty tech stuff, and then go and shoot an actual sporting event I couldn’t’ say no!  That’s exactly what we did too.  We had a group of people sign up via the Roberts Education website, we had a class portion to discuss things like back button auto focus, and especially all of the auto focus settings that I use for sports.  (Which for the record you can also find at this blog post from a while back). Then we all went over to the Pan Am Plaza here in Indianapolis to shoot the Junior Team USA vs the Indiana Ice.  As a couple of bonuses Robert’s had a one day rental special for the day where the students could rent gear and keep it for the whole weekend for a days rental.  Some of the guys did this to try things out too, which is great because it’s hard to know what will work best for you when spending the kind of money required to buy the good stuff when it comes to camera gear.  The other bonus, I set up my lights and each person got 10  minutes of game time to shoot on Sports lights.  This is great because as a few of them said; it might be the only time they ever have that opportunity.


(My shot from a previous Indiana Ice game to test the lighting setup.  Nikon D4, 800ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2 @200mm .1/250th@F5.   Paul C Buff Einstein Set to 1/8th power hooked up to a Vagabond 2 Battery pack on each side of the rink with 11″ Sport Reflectors triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus X Transceivers).

To get started all the guys were really amped about being there.  The class was a nice and intimate size of 6 students.  It was really great because it gave me a chance to work a lot one on one with each of them to get their cameras set up the way that we deemed best for shooting action sports.  While many cameras are similar, they are very rarely identical and so some settings had to be slightly adapted, or translated into something that worked for their particular camera.  The guys were troopers.  We spent almost 4 hours in the classroom ahead of time talking about light, filling the frame, and autofocus.  It was admittedly a little long, but that’s something that can be adjusted for next time.   The guys took it in stride though, as you can tell by some of the work they produced.


(Photo by Nathan Rich.  www.nrichphoto.com with a Nikon D800E and Nikon 70-200VR2.)

There’s no puck in that frame, but the goal doesn’t look where the puck isn’t…… All of the guys were different in what they shoot, the style they shoot, and the kind of photography that they like.  Some shoot events at the track, others just enjoy shooting, one was a parent looking to get tips on how to better shoot his kids hockey games.  What made it all really great was that when we got to the Pan Am Plaza one of the Indiana Ice Team photographers (John from White Shark Photography), said a few inspiring words of wisdom to get them started.


(Photo by Rob Baker, More photos here, with a Canon 7D and a Canon 70-200F2.8 lens)

John and his wife Kelly have been shooting the Indiana Ice as their official team photographers for the last 10 years, and it showed when John gave the guys a couple of tips.  The tips he gave were much more game and situation related than I could have given in regards to if you are having trouble following the action.  Ironically one part that stood out in his advice was the part that was similar to if you were shooting football with a 70-200 in that you should just wait for the action to come to you as opposed to chase it.  This was especially true for the lights we set up, which only lit up a third to half of the rink.


(Photo by Mike Dempsey with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200F2.8 Lens)

The class went well, and as you can see from the couple of shots above the guys learned quite a bit.  I wish I could post something from all the guys as there were lots of good frames from the workshop but there is only so much time in the afternoon and some of the guys sent several shots to go through.  If any of you guys are reading this, I’ll be sure to send each of you feedback on them in the next day or two so watch out for that.  I said a few times on Saturday as well as I’ll say it again here that hockey is a very tough, and very fast sport to photograph.  There is even another level of difficulty added by the fact that at this particular hockey venue you have to shoot through the Lexan wall to protect the crowd.  It tends to make sharpness a never ending quest since if you’re shooting at a funny angle you tend to miss the shot completely.  Thanks again to the guys who attended the workshop for a great day, and thanks again to Roberts Camera for putting on such a great event.  Look in the future to a few more really cool things that Roberts Education is going to be doing.  I can’t let the cat out of the bag so to speak, but I know of a few of the things in the works and they are worth keeping tabs on.  In fact there is a class they are working on coming up that I’ll probably even sign up to take.  Until then though.  More Soon.