From fashion to football, embrace the limitations
Here is a change of pace from the previous fashion show post. Several weeks ago I went to the first high school football game of the season, McCallum vs. Anderson High School. High School football is practically a religion here in Texas and I was going to shoot it with my newest camera, the Panasonic ZR1. For those of you that are following my blog you know that I’m in the midst of a challenge. To make compelling images from this inexpensive point and shoot that I got factory refurbished for $70. All cameras have limitations and this one certainly has its share. So how do I overcome its shortcomings and still make an interesting image?
Unlike a DLSR or my mirrorless system cameras, these point and shoots, with their tiny sensors get noisy at modest ISOs. The usable, high-quality limit in color for this camera, maybe ISO 400. I sometimes push the black and white images up to ISO 800. I was zoomed into the action and the maximum aperture was f5.9. The light was starting to fade and keeping the ISO at 400 at this aperture meant a shutter speed of about 1/50. Not enough to get a tack sharp image. I decided to make the best of it and go for the motion blur. It took several shots and this one looked the best. Just the right amount of blur, enough to look purposely done but you still see enough detail.
I gave suggestions of how to take great photos with point and shoots but here is another tip. Embrace the limitations. You are not going to get Sports Illustrated caliber images with a point and shoot, especially in marginal light. For that you need long lenses with large apertures and a fast focusing DLSR. Instead think of how to make interesting images within the available parameters. That is what I tried to do here. I zoomed in, the equivalent of 200mm, to simplify the composition. The motion blur gives a sense of the action and something potentially more interesting than a tack sharp image.
I shot the image below during the same football game. Since there was no action, I could further slow down my shutter and increase quality by using a lower ISO. I used a different technique since the circumstances and limitations were different from the action shot.