What do I mean? Shutter speed is everything in action photography. You see in these places, the lighting isn't very good photographically speaking. Firstly, it's contrasty. Secondly it's not in a great enough quantity to allow enough light into the sensor properly exposing the image.
Why is contrasty light bad? I mean, yeah sometimes we want BLACK shadows, and BRIGHT highlights that transition from one another quickly.
Like what the eye sees isn't always what the camera sees. The dynamic range of the human eye is much greater than the dynamic range of a camera sensor.
Simply put, if you put a very contrasty light scene with lots of dark shadows and bright highlights in front of your camera, and in front of your eye. More often than not, the eye sees more than the camera sensor in that situation. Wait, more? What do I mean more? Well in the eye we see a little detail in the black and we see a little detail in the highlights. In the camera, we may see just BLACK instead of shadow with detail. In the camera we may see "blown" highlights (nuked white), but our eye still discerns details. Maybe it's texture of the material, or something like that that WE can see, btu the eye doesn't see.
So these places that have the low light, require you to bump your ISO substantially. OKay, not as big of a deal as before. You should see some of the examples of high ISO film. Just google them. I am actually posting an ISO 1600 film shot exposed for in a controlled environment. You should see how grainy it is compared to one of the ISO 6400 (4 times more sensitive to light and likewise them more likely to show digital noise patterns or "grain) from my 1D3. The difference is staggering.
So yes, I know that bumping ISO isn't as big deal as before but back to the dynamic range thing. When you increase the ISO further, the dynamic range of the scene decreases in the sensor's eyes. So a typical scene may measure 13-15 f/stops of light. The sensor normally can get around 11 in optimal conditions, and then when you increase the ISO you may get 8 f/stops in the high ISO settings. So that means either the highlights go so you have shadow detail or your shadows go so you have highlight detail. You can use flash to bring up the exposure, btu if you use flash and you don't have a gel on your light that matches your main source...guess what? Your colors are going to look all wrong.
The numbers above I"m just making up, but they are similar and indicative of what I'm talking about. They just put a nuumber on the loss of dynamic range. We as people learn a lot more from something when we can put a number on it.
"It costs A LOT of money."
"It costs $246, 624, 677.00"
See what I mean?
The other thing is the cycling of the lights. When your shutter speed is too fast for the cycle of the type of light (which is almost always in action photography BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO HAVE FAST SHUTTER SPEEDS to freeze action), you'll catch the cycle of the light.
I've enclosed 4 photographs taken in sequence (meaning they were one burst). they are 4 that didn't make the cut, but they perfectly illustrate my point.
1D3, ISO 6400, f/2.8 1/400 is the "data" on them. This gives you an idea of the cycling I'm talking about and what makes it a bugger to deal with.
See the difference in the 4? How there's the "band" or "dark" that travels across the frame. That's the cycle of light that I'm talking about. So couple high ISO, rapid cycling lights, and fast moving subjects and you see just three of the reasons why action photography is so difficult.
I'll post more GOOD news from the event, as I process everything. So look for blog part two.