Shooting Sport Indoors: Aussie Rules in Oslo / by Conor Cunningham

Last Sunday I was shooting a local AFL (Australian Football) club, The Oslo Crows, playing indoor footy. Tungsten lights all around and enclosed within walls on all sides, I knew this wasn't going to be easy. Additionally, there was nothing aesthetically pleasing about the spot from a photographic point of view, but it is a tip top spot for indoor sport in Oslo.

First, all my shots we at 1/1000 of a second. I could have gone lower, but it's a quick and dynamic game and I found it best to be on the safe side. Lot's of fast chaps on the pitch and plenty of jumping through the air.

I was armed with three lenses (all Canon): 24 - 105 f/4, 70 - 300 IS USM f/4 - 5.6 and an 85mm  f/1.8. I started with the 70 - 300 and after about two minutes thought, 'no way, too slow and not enough light'. Furthermore, there was no bokeh and the walls weren't looking fantastic.

 What a catch! ISO 6400 70 - 300mm @ 70mm (too dark for my liking)

What a catch! ISO 6400 70 - 300mm @ 70mm (too dark for my liking)

I was shooting at around 10000 ISO and it was slower when focusing than Dublin's light rail, the Dart (very slow).  Next I brought out the 24 - 105. Nice and quick to focus, IS working well, but still fancied a bit more light. And again, bokeh, no, not a chance. Every tile, wall, basketball hoop was nice and sharp. Fantastico!

 Goal! f/4 ISO 1000 24 - 105 @ 44

Goal! f/4 ISO 1000 24 - 105 @ 44

So, that brought me to the 85mm f/1.8. All of a suddent I'm down at 2000 ISO and things are looking up. It's quick enough to focus, but by golly is it unforgiving. In the end I got some nice(ish) shots but I missed four to five times as many.

 Woo hoo! Sharp, bokeh both back and front, subject popping. 85mm f/1.8 ISO 2000

Woo hoo! Sharp, bokeh both back and front, subject popping. 85mm f/1.8 ISO 2000

Gallery above contains the shots I sent the team. Fingers crossed they like them. Next time I hope to shoot them outdoors with blue skies, a little bit of cloud for diffusion, a light breeze and shall we say an atmospheric ambient temperature of 23˚ celcius?

Lessons Learned

Follow the ball, not the people. I was following people and just trying to find good shots when I started off. Quickly learnt that I wanted to capture the essence of the game, which meant the sport, the ball and the people.

Indoors? Light not changing? Get your exposure right in manual mode and leave it. No need to worry about the camera going its own way.