How to Improve this shot ? Equipment / Settings or Processing.

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#1
I would like to improve the overall Sharpness/Clarity/Quality of this shot, and others like it, though I'm not 100% certain what is the best way to do so.

IMG_9411-Edit.jpg
Ideally, I am hoping there is a way I can change my settings or my processing, rather than my equipment ( as obviously, it's a fair bit cheaper if there's something I can do myself)

Here's what I am shooting with.

Equipment
  • Canon 60D
  • 17-55 f/2.8

Settings
  • iso 1250 - 3200
  • f/2.8 - f/3.2
  • 1/100 - 1/250 (depending on if moving or stationary)
  • servo - centre weighted metering
  • Shot at 55mm & Cropped.
  • Edited in Lightroom


Location
  • Indoors
  • Usually a mix of random skylights, and strip lights.
  • At a fixed distance away ( can't get closer/change angle due to restrictions on where you can stand)


Reasoning
  • at f/2.8 I found it to be a tad too shallow DOF for this particular large subject, though I do use it on others.
  • 1/100 is the minimum I like to shoot while handholding the camera on a moving subject, as I find if the dog moves it's leg or head, I get motion blur.
  • NO FLASH is allowed. It's against KC rules, and you can be removed for using it.
  • This was shot at 55mm and cropped, not ideal but my 55-250 stm at f/4.0 is no good.

Is there anything that I can do to improve these shots, with the equipment that I have?
 
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#2
Well I don't think there's anything wrong with your equipment but you are rather restricted by the actual event which obviously can't be altered.

The shot is rather too small to see what could be done with processing but it looks as if you may have just missed focus on the dog's fur but I would ideally need a much a full size image to give any real advice.
 
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gothgirl
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#3
@petersmart The focus was on the centre point, which was on the dog's face.

This is as big as the TP server will allow me to attach it.


IMG_9411-Edit.jpg
 
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Rich
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#4
Not my speciality at all, but have you tried back button focusing?
 
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gothgirl
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#5
No, I haven't.
Though I probably should, as the way people speak it's the cure to all problems! :LOL:
 
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Brian
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#7
I would crop in from the left. Next i would see what I could do to seperate the dog from that distracting background. Maybe even cut the dog and lady out in photoshop and put them on a different background.
 
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gothgirl
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#10
I would crop in from the left. Next i would see what I could do to seperate the dog from that distracting background. Maybe even cut the dog and lady out in photoshop and put them on a different background.
Easily done, but that won't make the image any clearer/sharper.
 
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#12
When you say "servo" are you refering to the focusing mode? If so then try Single Shot as AI servo will not lock focus and will hunt, even if ever so slightly!!!

That choice alone could a major factor as why you are having difficulties?

PS also are you using a single AF point such the centre one to 'land' of the dog's eye or one higher up the viewfinder frame to 'land' on the handlers eye? If not using a single point say what you are using and why that choice?
 
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gothgirl
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#13
I have
When you say "servo" are you refering to the focusing mode? If so then try Single Shot as AI servo will not lock focus and will hunt, even if ever so slightly!!!

That choice alone could a major factor as why are having difficulties?
found that Single shot is no good when I have moving targets.
 
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Dave
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#14
This was shot at 55mm and cropped, not ideal but my 55-250 stm at f/4.0 is no good.
If you could use your longer lens and eliminate the need to crop that would help. As would keeping the shutter speed higher than 1/100th if possible.

Other than that is there any way you could get the handler to stand closer? That would enable you to use the shorter lens and it would help separate the subject from the background.
 
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gothgirl
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#17
If you could use your longer lens and eliminate the need to crop that would help. As would keeping the shutter speed higher than 1/100th if possible.

Other than that is there any way you could get the handler to stand closer? That would enable you to use the shorter lens and it would help separate the subject from the background.
My longer lens is the 55-250, and shooting at f/4 in these conditions is very poor.
And No, the handlers where the judges tell them to.
 
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gothgirl
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#18
But this target isn't moving...
Not right this second, but three seconds before it was.
And I might be shooting 3 or 4 dogs in the same class, and have to quickly swap from a stationary target to a moving one.
 
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#19
Not right this second, but three seconds before it was.
And I might be shooting 3 or 4 dogs in the same class, and have to quickly swap from a stationary target to a moving one.
Yes, that's the job of a photographer and if it means you are missing focus then you need to adapt and learn...
 
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#21
I have


found that Single shot is no good when I have moving targets.
Not right this second, but three seconds before it was.
And I might be shooting 3 or 4 dogs in the same class, and have to quickly swap from a stationary target to a moving one.
Hmmm! are they moving across the frame, in the location shown above, or coming towards you/going away from you.

If moving across the frame you need to try panning and using back button focus (not an absolute need) combined with high speed burst mode ~ with a practiced panning technique you should get one or two frames of a short burst "sharp" though at low shutter speeds you may get some motion blur but hopefully not on the heads of both dog and handler???
 
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Ned
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#22
To be fair I think thats why shes asking.
Yep, and the fundamental answer is pretty easy.

The shot is back focussed.
Is this the kit, the settings, or the photographer?
Figure out which it is and adjust accordingly.

All other points about photographic merit are moot at this point.
 
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Brian
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#23
Hmmm! are they moving across the frame, in the location shown above, or coming towards you/going away from you.

If moving across the frame you need to try panning and using back button focus (not an absolute need) combined with high speed burst mode ~ with a practiced panning technique you should get one or two frames of a short burst "sharp" though at low shutter speeds you may get some motion blur but hopefully not on the heads of both dog and handler???
I agree, under those circumstances I would be shooting bursts as well.
 
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#24
My longer lens is the 55-250, and shooting at f/4 in these conditions is very poor.
And No, the handlers where the judges tell them to.
What's so bad about f4? If you can fill the frame without cropping in post the noise from higher ISOs will be less noticeable.

This will probably get slated by the purists, but I'd set the camera to pick the focus spot. Don't know what that's called for Canons. The way that works is that focus goes on the thing closest to the camera, which in this case will be the dog - the thing you want in focus. Also make sure the camera will only fire when focus is achieved. This is my procedure for photographing chickens and sheep. Only if I have lots of time do I move the focus point to the creature's eye/head.
 
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gothgirl
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#26
Hmmm! are they moving across the frame, in the location shown above, or coming towards you/going away from you.
All of the above, they walk generally in circles and triangles, so come towards you, walk away from you and go across, though depending on the movement some of them are no good , as the handler will be stood between you and the dog
 
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#28
The focus points are larger than they appear to be, and the dogs eye isn’t particularly high contrast but the handlers outfit is. Ergo the camera is focussing on the handler.

IMHO though, if the dog is in focus at 2.8, the handler won’t be, I’d be adding light and shooting at 5.6
 
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#30
All of the above, they walk generally in circles and triangles, so come towards you, walk away from you and go across, though depending on the movement some of them are no good , as the handler will be stood between you and the dog
OK, I still think for such variation in subjects AI Servo is the wrong choice.

One Shot and high speed burst is still a good starting position but then so is 'developing' your camera handling techniques. If you adopt Back Button Focus there is a modified technique using it only as needed i.e. as the dog approaches you acquire focus and lift your thumb, keeping the AF point over the subject, once it/they are where you want the shot you press BBF again and once focus locked press the shutter button.......grabbing say a 3 frame burst. Try that out and see how you go???
 
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#31
TBH it looks to me like focus has missed completely, and the wall behind is sharp with dog & handler OOF. The suggestion was made to use single focus instead of servo, and I think that's a better suggestion: single will normally fire as soon as a focus lock is obtained if you hold the shutter button all the way down, and it's easy enough to release & re-press for another shot.

Phil is correct that 2.8 isn't really enough for everything to be sharp, however you also don't have the option to add light since flash is banned, so I'd probably be looking for higher ISO if the camera could cope.
 
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#34
you need to get focus in the camera as if you don't the picture is no use
some cameras and lens's focus quicker than others
some sensors don't like dull senarios
you may need to get a longer lens so your not cropping to much
i would use manual settings and auto iso also cont af using bb focus
maybe your sensor is at its limit with the light available
my nikon d500 copes fantastic in these conditions
 
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mike
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#38
Just for fun i put it through the new Topaz sharpen AI on its default settings, it makes a difference shown on the right side.

Capture.JPG
 
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#39
Flash is allowed outside the display ring. Ergo, directing staff answer: set up a photobooth at the entrance and shoot it there.
This is a clear case of the different mindset of the amateur and professional (not a judgement btw);

An amateur will try desperately to work with whatever limitations are chucked at them and when the results aren’t good will look for a way to ‘polish a turd’ or just accept it’s a crap situation.

The professional attitude is ‘what do I need to do to make sure the product is of a high quality and ensures I get paid and my reputation doesn’t suffer?’
The simple fact is we have to control the situation, there should never be questions of whether the gear is suitable or whether we can spend longer fixing something in post than we would have spent shooting it properly.

@gothgirl, there’s nothing wrong with your technique - I too would be using the continuous focus, BBF and centre focus point, but to deliver repeatable clean quality results you simply have to take control, and where there’s not enough light - that means adding more light.
 
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#40
This is a clear case of the different mindset of the amateur and professional (not a judgement btw);

The professional attitude is ‘what do I need to do to make sure the product is of a high quality and ensures I get paid and my reputation doesn’t suffer?’
Would that be reputation with the paying client or all stakeholders? If pushing the boundaries of what's permissible from event organisers ends up with a barring from the event in future, is that worth the risk to get the output in the here and now? A difficult tightrope.

I recall a "professional" who, to get the shot wandered onto a pitch to get the desired angle. Ended up being called up to the sport governing body and barred from a number of local pitches and all events organised by the National body. Tried to appeal legally that they were stifling his business by barring him. Suffice to say it didn't get upheld in his favour!
 
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