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Shooting at an outdoor event with mixed lighting

edited March 2012 Posted in » Canon T3i Forum
Hey Moose! Love the site and glad you added this forum.

First off, here is the equipment I am working with:
Canon Rebel T3i
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Canon EF-S Zoom lens 18 mm-135 mm - F/3.5-5.6
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM II
Delkin Devices 32GB SDHC Memory Card Elite 633x UHS-I

I have a bit of a complicated, multi-part question.

I will be attending the "Super Bowl of Professional Wrestling" known as Wrestlemania on April 1st. This year it is taking place in Miami, FL at the Sun Life Stadium. The event will have a late afternoon start time and carry on into the evening which means natural light will be coming in through the beginning of the event but fade as the night progresses. Here is a short video (see here) to give you an idea of what the event will look like.

Now then, as much as I would love to be sitting ringside, I am actually sitting closer to what would be the 40 yard line at a football game (the ring is in the center of the 50 yard line). Here is a seating chart (see here) to give you a better idea (I'm Chris btw):

So here are my questions:

1. If I wanted to capture fast-paced action, what settings should I start at and what should I progress to as it becomes darker?
2. What setting(s) should I use to capture a firework display (at the stadium)?
3. If they were to deny me the use of my Sigma lens, would my 135mm stand a chance at capturing anything without blurring?
4. Since there will be a lot going on, should I shoot in bursts?
5. Are there drawbacks to shooting in bursts?
6. Should I keep the flash on or off?
7. Do you think that I should keep the AF off most of the time?

Any help would be appreciated! Thank you!


  • Howdy @shc - Thanks for the kind words. Sounds like a fun event. Let's jump right in...

    1. Start with Shutter priority (Tv on the mode dial), set the shutter speed to 1/500, set the ISO to Auto, set the AF mode to AI Servo, set the drive mode to Continuous Shooting. With this setup, you can half-press the shutter to continuously focus on the wrestlers. When you;re ready to take the shot, fully press the shutter and hold it down to rattle off a bunch of shots in quick succession. As the light starts to drop out, lower the shutter speed to 1/250.

    2. For fireworks, you'll need a tripod. Reason being, you'll need to use a shutter speed between 1 and 10 seconds to capture the burst of the fireworks. A gorillapod (see here) would be perfect for this event. You could attach it to your seat, angle the T3i upwards and set a slow shutter speed to capture the firework display. As for settings, you can stay in Shutter priority and adjust the shutter speed down to 1 to 10 seconds. If you have time, switch the focus mode back to One Shot and turn of Continuous Shooting. Focus on the moon or a distant light, then turn off the AF on your lens. This will allow you to take shot after shot without having to focus.

    3. Yes, I'm afraid your Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 is your only hope towards capturing live action in low light from a distance.

    4. Yes, as mentioned above set the drive mode to Continuous Shooting and hold down the shutter to rattle off a bunch of shots...this will improve your odds of finding a keeper.

    5. No, the only drawback would be that it eats up the space on your memory card. Your 32GB card should be more than enough for one night of intensive shooting.

    6. Off, unless you're taking group/personal shots nearby with friends or family.

    7. No, you want to utilize AF as much as possible. The only time you might want to turn it off is when you're capturing fireworks.

    Hope that all makes sense. Have a great trip and happy shooting! :)
  • edited October 2013
    Moose, great advice. I just purchased the T3i and didn't know what settings to use at the schools Powderpuff game. I followed your directions and they worked great! I did take the shutter speed down to 1/125. Thank you for helping out this newbie! :)
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