Shooting through a chain-link fence at a tennis match is much harder than I thought it would be.  Zach had a GREAT time at this tennis team tournament (even though I had trouble getting good pictures). His Twin Creeks team came in 3rd out of many other teams from the area.  Zach won 10 matches and lost 3 – – he was a superstar!!!

Tennis was a new sport for me to photograph, so much like when I started taking basketball pictures for the first time, there was a learning curve as to how to get the best shots.  There was an extra learning curve, because I was having to shoot through a chain-link fence!  With a sport where the balls go back and forth very quickly, a chain link fence can prove to be very difficult, and when the fence has wind screens up, just forget about getting a picture.

The main problem with the chain link fence was that my lens was larger than the holes in the fence.  Silly me…I thought I could just poke my lens through the links in the fence and pan my camera back and forth.  I quickly discovered that was not going to work.  I tried to follow Zach with my lens, but my focus kept getting distracted by the chains on the fence.  I still managed to get some good shots (I think), but many of them were fuzzy because of the focusing system getting distracted by the chain-links!

At this tournament , I was shooting with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens, so I was able to get better pictures when Zach was a few courts away from me.  Of course, then there is the additional challenge of other players on nearby courts stepping in front of my shot.

I feel like this dilemma makes a great case for purchasing a new Canon M5 – this is a micro 4/3 camera.  It is so much smaller than my Canon 5D Mark III, that I do think these lenses would just fit right through the chain link fence!  No focusing problems at all.  Now if I could just convince my husband that I do, in fact need the Canon EOS M5 EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS.  Don’t you all agree?

And not only would it solve my chain-link fence problems, but they also say that this camera EOS M5 camera has the fastest autofocus (AF) speed of the EOS M-Series and a built-in Electronic Viewfinder.  Sounds like something I really, really need (want)!!

After about 20 minutes of attempting shots through the fence with my 5D Mark III and my giant 70-200 zoom lens, the Tennis Director noticed my lens and asked me if I was a professional photographer.  I laughed, and told him that I was just a very over-zealous mom.  He then told me that in exchange for taking pictures for his newsletter, he would give me a “press pass” of sorts.  This meant that I would be allowed to be on the courts during the tournament to take pictures.  So…fence problem solved!  At least for this tournament…

4

Notice the blur on the left hand side of this picture. That is the chain link fence!! This shot was taken before I was received the “press pass” to be out on the courts.

3

 

5

The two pictures above were taken out on the court – no fence in the way to distract the focus or blur the edges.  Much easier this way, but unfortunately I only got one Press Pass!  Now it’s back to figuring out how to shoot through a chain-link fence.

Unfortunately, the press pass was only good for that one tournament.  I searched and searched for the director at the next tournament, but he was nowhere to be found!  So…back to figuring out how to shoot good pictures through a chain link fence.  Don’t let things like a fence stand in your way…just grab your camera and do what you need to do to get a good shot!  Good luck!  Until next time…

Update:  Since posting this article, I found a great article from DPS called How to Shoot Through a Chain-Link Fence.  Sure wish I had seen this before I went to take pictures at Zach’s tennis tournament.  But…I’ve read through it, and now I’m ready for the next time I’m having to shoot through those annoying chain-link fences.

Not sure I’m ready to shoot in Manual Mode, but I guess it’s worth a try, because I already implement most of the other suggestions.  When shooting through a fence, I am always very close to the fence.

In fact, I press my lens against it so hopefully it won’t focus on the fence instead of what I’m shooting.  And if there is a gap or a bent chain link, I always try to sit in that spot if I can (but sometimes those gaps are too far off to the side).

I also always use a large Aperture (small number) so the depth of focus is narrow.  That helps to blur out the fence if any gets captured in the shot.  I never did think about incorporating the fence into my picture.

Not sure that would work when taking a tennis shot.  Seems like that might be better for a still subject?  Who knows…  Anyway, these are just a few things to remember.  I’ll let you know how it goes when I attempt shooting in Manual Mode!!  Wish me luck…