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  • Andrew JK Tan

Canoe Sprint Action - Photography Tips

I had the opportunity to photograph the sport of Canoe sprinting on the 12th of Mar. The 1000M (meter) races were held at MacRitchie Reservoir.

My photography setup

a. Nikon D850 (set to DX mode 1.5x to hit 825mm focal length when needed)

b. Nikkor 80-400mm f4.5-5.6

c. Nikkor 1.4x TC-EII

d. AF Setup : AF-C , D9 AF points , AF-C release priority : Focus + Release , Tracking sensitivity : 2


f. 7 FPS

g. Hand-Held

Again the Nikon D850's autofocus ability was up to par and performed very well even with the tele-converter attached.

Photography Tips For Canoe Sprint Action

1. To fill the frame with action and the subject , a min. of 400 mm focal length is needed

- best to use a crop sensor DSLR

- use an additional tele-converter , best to use a 1.4x for minimal IQ loss and f-stop loss

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length (click on image to see larger version where appropriate)

2. Recommend a fast Shutter Speed (in general)

- to prevent motion blur due to shake from hand-holding a long focal length

- to freeze action , droplets and splashes

- shutter speed settings calculator , effective focal length used 600 mm , 1/ (600 x 2) = 1/1200s

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

3. If a tele-converter is used to get additional reach , stop down the aperture to f10.0

Stopping down will provide better Image Quality (IQ) - less soft and crisper and a little bit more Depth Of Field (DOF)

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

4. Avoid direct head-on shots if you want to show the faces of the canoeist or kayakers. Capture the scene with the boat at an angle and the paddles in the appropriate position

- a fast burst rate & good timing helps make sure the paddles do not obscure the faces too much

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

5. For the action content try to show the following :

- impressive splashes

- determined facial expressions

- synchronisation amongst the paddlers

- show pursuit by the other boats

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

6. If you can , try to avoid the rowers overlapping too much with rowers from the pursuing boats

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

ISO800 , 1/800s , f8.0 , 220 mm focal length

7. Capture SYMMETRY for those with 2 rowers in the Canoe (single blade paddle) category

ISO800 , 1/1000s , f10.0 , 825 mm focal length

8. Panning is also a good technique to employ to get unique motion blur images

- important to have a dark background to show off the motion blurred splashes well

ISO64 , 1/20s , f18.0 , 180mm focal length

ISO64 , 1/20s , f18.0 , 130mm focal length

9. Chaos at the Starting point

ISO1600 , 1/800s , f10.0 , 130 mm focal length

ISO1600 , 1/400s , f10.0 , 120 mm focal length

10. Celebration moments

ISO800 , 1/800s , f8.0 , 825 mm focal length

Hope you enjoyed the sharing. Btw , you do NOT have to go out and buy a long focal length lens to shoot , just go loan one from the lens rental centres.

Lookout for an upcoming blog after I photograph some exciting & dramatic motocross action next.



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