Shooting Rugby

I have never shot Rugby before, so I thought I would enjoy this morning’s newspaper shoot, a high school rugby game. And I did.

Here’s a shot. Of course it is one that I did not send to the newspaper, since I only just shot this and the paper is not out yet, and it is bad practice to trump your own customers. Click for larger:

For Rugby I used the 70-200 2.8IS L lens on the Canon 1D Mark IV.

I set the camera to continuous focus (“AI Servo”) and used a custom setting to give preference to tracking, not to refocusing on objects that appear in between. I used one focus point, with expansion to surrounding point.

The camera produced many sharp shots – most of them by far, so I was more than impressed with this first sports shoot with the Mark IV.

But my main learning was about the sport itself. Here’s what I learned:

  1. The sidelines are a great place to be.
  2. The sun needs to be behind the photographer on a bright day – and pay attention to where it falls onto the subjects (face is better than back of head!)
  3. 70-200 is a great lens for this sport
  4. Get action shots. There’s not much action in a school game – in that sense it is like football or cricket: periods of boredom with the odd burst of action.
  5. Get emotion.
  6. Get colours.
  7. Use fast shutter speeds (I used 200 ISO with the camera in aperture mode and set to f/2.8 mostly – leading to 1/3000th second shutter speeds).
  8. Get the action while you can – 15 minutes times two with only occasional action is no guarantee of a shot/

Oh, and the team in the red jerseys won by a 10-0 margin, so you can see why the others were very determined to stop that ball.

0 thoughts on “Shooting Rugby

  1. What a timely post for me. My daughter surprised me this year by signing up for her highschool rugby team. She did have to pick one of the two major sports (cricket being the other one) I know nothing about!

    I had the pleasure to watch part of a game recently. I think the part that surprised me was the intensity of those odd bursts of action. Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t play that game. Here’s my favourite composition (I blew the post processing by making it too dark; I’ll fix that yet):

    Here’s a shot of the weirdest part of the game. Some sort of lift during throwing in the ball from the sidelines:

  2. Michael,

    Just back from kids soccer game – used my 70-200mm f2.8L (love the lens) on a Canon 7D. Some of my action pictures seemed to pick up objects inbetween causing out-of-focus. Just reviewed your Rugby blog, and now realize I can reset AI Servo sensitivity. What do you mean by “I used one focus point, with expansion to surrounding point”. Thanks. Richard

    • Thanks Michael. Looking forward to the flash course soon; still deliberating on the 580 vs 430. For flash, I presume I’m mostly a portrait/inside user. I am beginning to see the benefits outdoor as well (sunlight). I’ll be signing up once I make the splurge! Thanks again.

      • Indeed. Next course August 14 but there will be others. I cover inside as well as outside of course. Enjoy your photography, meanwhile!

        Btw I provide both 430s and 580s, plus a discussion of relative merits.

  3. Richard: there are three, and once you enable them all in the custom functions FIVE, focus modes on the 7D.

    One is the mode where you select one focus point, but when the camera cannot focus on that point, it looks at the focus points immediately surrounding it, and chooses one of those. That is what I meant.

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