Crossfit and Indoor Gym Photography

What is it?

The usual problems with Crossfit and indoor gym photography, is the small amount of light in these places. Because of this, your camera if left in automatic mode, will slow the shutter speed down which will cause your pictures to blur.

The problem with this is that you don’t want your pictures to blur! So how do you get around this?

Below is a list of tips that you can do with any camera that has a P mode, most point and shoot cameras will allow you to set one aspect of the camera, and modify some of the settings to allow you to get better shots.

The first thing to do is consult your manual, and look up these three terms, if you don’t have your manual and are not sure what  they are I have linked the terms to previous blog posts, so you can have a read.

ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.

If you are taking pictures of people moving, you need a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. In these sorts of sports, you really need to be taking pictures at 1/250th of a second, as a minimum, anything slower than that and you will get motion blur.

Please note the following pictures were taken at Crossfit Coorparoo by me, using their Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS (pictured below), not my Canon 5D Mark II.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym Photography

I set the camera in P mode, I adjusted the ISO manually to different ISO, here is the critical part, this camera when zoomed will have a larger number aperture, so it is at its best and will let in more light, when it is NOT zoomed, (don’t worry Trent, i set the camera back to how you had it when I gave it back)

Examples

So all the images below were taken with the camera not zoomed in, I used Foot Zoom, its where you walk closer or further away to get everything into the picture.  With this in mind, have a look at some of the pictures below, I will explain what I have done to get these pictures and what is happening in the photos.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyIn this photo taken at F3 ISO 1600 and 1/40th of a second, Mike’s legs are blurry as they are moving through his toes to bar exercise.  This camera is being pushed to its limits though as ISO 1600 is very high and at F3 its at the smallest number it can be.  So the light is terrible, and I can’t really do much about it.

So how do I make sure that I don’t get blurry shots?

TIMING!  With Crossfit most of the movements have a point that they are locked out, or in a Rep. That’s when you take their picture. Please note the time between pushing the button and the camera taking the picture will depend with each camera, with a little practice you will get to know what it is.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyThese two images were both taken at F3 ISO 400 and 1/20th of a second, the one on the left has better timing than the one on the right, as I have managed to get the ball when it has stopped, whereas on the right the ball is still moving up or down. The two bodies are relatively stationary as they are in the top of their rep. An open door helped with the light at this end of the gym. Please note: I have very steady hands, taking a picture at 1/20th of a second may not give you the same results, its best to try and get the camera to use a faster shutter speed.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyThese two images were both taken at F3 ISO 1600 and 1/60th of a second, the one on the left has better timing than the one on the right, as I have managed to get the kettle bell when it has stopped, whereas on the right the ball is still moving up or down. The two bodies are relatively stationary as they are in the top of their rep. The open door in the background has really affected this photo, best to avoid bright spots like this with these point and shoot cameras that cannot be set manually.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyIn this photo shot at F3 ISO 400 and 1/60th of a second, I used the on camera flash to light up the subject, again the timing was key as Trent is at the top of his movement, note the flash on these point and shoot cameras is so small it will only usually have a range of about a meter. You can see how the light on his shoes is already not affected by the flash, usually best not to use flash.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyIn this photo shot at F3 ISO 320 and 1/60th of a second, again I have used the flash, you can see signs around Mike’s shoes where they have moved after the flash has fired, and there is blur.

So here are the tips summed up.

If your point and shoot camera has a zoom lens, don’t zoom, if you have an entry level DSLR and it has the kit lens on it, best not to zoom as well.

If you have a P mode in the menu (instead of “sports” “landscape” or “portrait”) use it, it will allow you to change some of the settings. Specifically the ISO.

Turn the flash off, usually it kills the battery quicker, slows down the reaction time of the camera, and it wont get too far.

If possible set the shutter speed as fast as you can.

Timing, timing, timing, test how long the response is between you pressing the button and the camera taking a picture, and hit the button at the right time.

If your camera has a burst mode which takes a series of photos very quickly, use it and start the burst as the movement is about to finish, one of the photos may be timed perfectly.

This was written specifically for point and shoot cameras, if you have a DSLR, then you should use shutter priority and lift the ISO as high as you need to, so that you can set the shutter speed to 1/250th. There are very cheap 50mm lenses (under $200) for most DSLR cameras with an Aperture of 1.8. they would be really well suited to this type of photography.

If you are a Crossfit Affiliate and would like me to show you how to take better photos with your own cameras in your gym, please contact me. If you would like to see some of my work, have a look through this gallery, taken at the Again Faster Semper Paratus 2014 Team Challenge. Most of these pictures were taken at F2.8 ISO 1600 and 1/90th of a second.

5 thoughts on “Crossfit and Indoor Gym Photography”

  1. This is great. I am using my new 50mm lens tomorrow night. Thanks for some great tips. I have practiced a little with it but tomorrow will be the first big night working with it.

          1. Thank you. Working on loading 15.3 right now. Was challenging one to photograph with wallabies and double unders. But happy with alot of what I got.

What are your thoughts?