Commack High School Varsity Badminton vs. Lindenhurst
I knew I was in trouble as soon as I walked into the gym. Both teams were wearing black uniforms and the gym is surrounded with black padding on the walls. That's a perfect recipe for autofocus hell. Add to that the fact that I was using my 100-400mm zoom whose aperture only maxes out at f/4 forcing me to shoot at 1/250 sec. and it had the makings of a long afternoon.
I tried just about every autofocus custom setting my camera had and none of them had any real advantage over the others. 1917 frames later and I wound up with only 107 images that were marginally close to being keepers.
At Commack the badminton courts cover the entire gym, wall to wall. This means the only place you can shoot from is the one set of bleachers that's shared by both teams and the spectators. Thus the use of the long 100-400mm zoom to reach the two farthest courts. Our new bleachers help make it a bit easier than in the past because they actually have staircases you can hang out on. You have to contend with players going up and down but it's way better than the old ones where you had to shoot from the seats, deftly navigating over players text books, food, coats, etc.
I shoot from about halfway up the bleachers. This gets me enough height to get over the players in the front courts so they're not blocking shots of the courts behind them, at least most of the time. One thing good about badminton is that many of the shots go high in the air so the players have to look up to follow them. That's an ideal time to take an image. Another good time is when the players are serving since there's very little movement except for their arms.
On the subject of movement, you can get away with a relatively low shutter speed. You'll blur the arms but I like that effect. Unless they're lunging for a low shot their movement isn't that fast so you don't end up doing a lot of panning. The main idea is to get the player's eyes in focus and sharp.
That's about it for this post. If the weather doesn't improve soon I may be shooting badminton for the rest of the spring season. Have fun.