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Inconsistent Results in Manual Exposure Mode

jcgoodsonjcgoodson Member
edited June 2015 in general photography
I'm puzzled.  Three times now, I've taken photos at baseball games in full manual mode and get inconsistent exposures.  The images below illustrate the issue.  Taken just minutes after the first, the second photo appears to have a color cast relative to the first (especially in the color of the dirt).  I notice the same inconsistencies in photos taken just seconds apart.  I typically shoot these events in continuous drive mode -- would that make a difference?  I also wonder if the field lights are doing something funky, e.g., cycling (very quickly) through different color temperatures.  Thanks in advance for any explanations or remedies forum members might have.





  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    If you're shooting in continuous drive mode, then your flash might not be able to keep up. 

    If you are close to the ambient exposure, then the stadium lights might very well have caused this - they will show color changes depending on where the light is "flickering" in the cycle. 

    You can see this with fluorescent lights when you shoot ambient-only - the color changes. And I think this is what you're seeing here - the ambient light's color is changing due to the nature of the artificial lights there. 
  • Thanks Neil.  I forgot to add these are ambient-only photos, no flash.  So it's probably the stadium lights.
  • Were you in auto white balance?

    In the second photo it looks like the people behind the
    fence were lit by someone else’s flash, this could affect your white balance. 

  • @qrickman -- The white balance was the same across images.  And I'm pretty sure there wasn't a flash firing concurrent with these captures.  Thus, I am left to think that (1) the field lights rapidly cycle through different colors, as Neil pointed out, and (2) field light output varies based on the point in the cycle, possibly explaining why the images appear to have different exposures.
  • julieojulieo Member
    My main photography is sports photography, you are experiencing the recycling of the stadium lights. Human eye can not se the difference, but the camera will. Just be sure you are shooting in RAW and fix in post production. If you blast off a series of 7 images on continuous, there will be usually one in that grouping that you really like and thats the one you should post edit. Love my sports photography, getting that perfect shot is a wonderful feeling!
  • I've also dealt with this when shooting at night under stadium lights. These lights (fluorescent too) actually flash with the alternating current (60 Hz in North America). If you envision a full sinusoid wave, it crosses zero every 1/120 second. If you shoot at 1/60 second, you capture exactly one full sinusoid pulse and everything is fine. If you shoot at 1/125 second, you capture a half pulse and generally this is not bad. If you shoot slower than 1/60, things are not too bad, you've captured at least one full pulse plus some. Shooting faster than 1/125 is when problems arise. From shot to shot, you can get weird color casts, and you can also end up with very dark shots mixed with bright shots (depending on where in the AC cycle you captured).

    When shooting sports 1/60 and 1/125 are usually unacceptably slow shutter speeds, so the advice offered by folks above is best: shoot RAW, cross your fingers, and try your best to fix in post.
  • And, by the way, your shots look great above. You captured the action with sharp focus - looks good to me!
  • @julieo and @Nikonguy -- Thanks!  Your explanations make a lot of sense.  I believe these images were shot with a shutter speed of 1/400 second.  I like that speed because it shows some motion in the bat and ball but is sharp on the slower-moving player.  I guess I have to live with lighting variation across multiple shots at this shutter speed, although I'll admit it kind of drives me crazy when I'm trying to get consistent color/exposure across multiple images!  Thanks again.
  • julieojulieo Member
    edited June 2015
    @jcgoodson and @Nikonguy Certainly the faster the sport the bigger the problem with stadium lights as Nikonguy states. That said, id rather have a shaper image I can fix post than a blurry image with more pleasing color shift.. In Baseball you can get away with 400/500 shutter speed, due to most of the action being a bit static as opposed to lacrosse or football.

    I will shoot lax in raw, auto ISO, with the lowest shutter speed set to 1,000 and the highest ISO set to 8,000. Nightgames will keep you at a constant 2.8 and day games I will manually float between 2.8 and 4.0. Best advice, come early get the daylit pregame practice shots and player interaction shots and when game starts, concentrate on getting as many keepers before half-time and the light becomes really crappy. I also have the sunset Times on my phone and will select which games in the season that offer the best natural light.

    My cheap 2 cents
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