I've been into sports photography for some years now. Last year I stepped up the game sending "live" photos to my home page www.sportphoto.no during the match, Why? So that my customers, Vålerenga Fotball ladies and gents team can have fresh photos for SOME and home page during and right after the match.

I will in this tutorial give you the recipe on how I work and the tools I'm using. The tutorial requires that you have some experience with Photo Mechanic, Lightroom and SmugMug.

TOOLS

In sports photography, having the right tools to do the job is essential. High speed, long days, demanding light and weather conditions will put the equipment to the test. I have always been a Nikon man, but I'm certain that you can get almost the same results with a Canon or a Sony, almost :-)

In my bag

  • 2x Nikon Z6 II
  • Nikon 24-70/2.8 S
  • Nikon 70-200/2.8 S
  • Nikon 300/2.8 VR
  • Nikon TC-14e III (1.4 teleconverter used with the 300mm)
  • Sirui P-324SR monopod
  • Nikon SB-910 speedlight (you never know)
  • Sony XQD cards, 64 Gb
  • Sony XQD card reader (attached to my Mac with velcro during the match)
  • Spare batteries and cleaning stash
  • Powerbank, a big one to ensure no power loss during the match.
  • MacBook Pro 15" 2.3 GHz i9, 32 Gb RAM (LR is a slugger. The more processing power, the better)
  • Photo Mechanic 6 (in the article referred to as PM)
  • Lightroom Classic w/SmugMug plug-in (in the article referred to as LR and SM)

During a football match everything has to go smooth. You don't have time to think, so the set-up must be done right and work every time to ensure the best results. Picking the right photos, transfer them from camera to PM over to LR, edit them and finally send them to the web. All at the same time as the heat is on.

The key is to have the system set to give you the overview and control needed. Which photos to transfer? Transfer the photo only once. Ensure the photo is tagged with headline, caption and keywords. Which photo is edited? Which photo is exported to web?

INITIAL SETUP

These settings are only done once.

In LR

  • Create a Smart Collection named "Today"
    • Filter #1 - Capture Date > is today
  • Create a Smart Collection named "Today - not edited"
    • Match all
    • Filter #1 - Capture Date > is today
    • Filter #2 - Label Color - is red
    • Filter #3 - Filter Flag > is not rejected
  • Create a Smart Collection named "Today - rejected"
    • Match all
    • Filter #1 - Capture Date > is today
    • Filter #3 - Filter Flag > is rejected

All these folders are in use match day, my main working folders.

  • Create a SM connection with the SM plug-in in Publish Services
  • Create an Import Metadata Preset named "LIVE import"
    • Basic Info > Label > Red

What this does is to add a red label to all imported photos.

In PM

Here's my Ingest settings. Important to notice that "Incremental Ingest" and "Auto Ingest" are checked.
My Metadata (IPTC) Template settings. Pay attention to the use of variables. Important to notice is the {datesort} variable in the keywords. This value is used by the smart collection in the SM plug-in to automatic get the match photos in right folders.

So, when that out of the world, let's get ready for the first football match.

BEFORE THE MATCH

In LR

  • Add a new smart gallery in Publish Services/Smug Mug
    • Name the smart gallery with the full team names "Vålerenga - Strømsgodset"
    • Match all
    • Filter #1 - Pick Flag > is not > rejected
    • Filter #2 - Label Color > is not > red
    • Filter #3 - Keywords > contains > [image date added in PM] eg. "20210425"
    • Custom URL: [only safe characters A-Z a-z 0-9] eg. "vif-sif"
    • Quick Settings > Advanced Settings > Photo Protection: Add Download Password to protect originals.
  • Add match day date as keyword in temporary gallery poster, eg. "20210425"
  • Publish gallery to SmugMug
  • Check SmugMug and see if the
    • Gallery is made
    • Photo uploaded
    • Password protection is ok
  • Change/check values in the import dialog.
  • Pause syncing to cloud storage!
The Smart Gallery settings. This ensures that only edited photos taken on a given day shows up. More on that in the DURING THE MATCH section under.
If you have enabled SmugMug to let users download originals, protect them with a password.
The LR import setting "LIVE import" you made in the initial setup, ensures that imported photos are colour labeled red.

In PM

Rename filename in "Ingest"
Change "Client1" and "Client2" in Job to the correct teams
Change/check "Feat. Org. Name" (Eliteserien, Toppserien, Landskaget, Trening) in "Metadata Template"
Change/check "Event", "City" and "Location" in "Metadata Template"

DURING THE MATCH

  • Make sure the Internet connection is ok. WiFi or cellular data.
  • Connect the Powerbank and card reader to your PC/Mac
  • Open LR, PM and a browser with your SmugMug page

The ref blows the whistle - let the party begin!

  1. After a series of photos, chimp through them and mark the keepers with the cameras "protect" button.
  2. When the pace of the game allows it, empty the memory card. When inserted in the card reader, PM opens and all new protected photos are automatically imported and visible in the PM's Contact Sheet. All photos have now automatically been tagged with headline, caption and keywords according to the setup done before the match.
  3. Select all photos and drag them into LR. In LR click import. If you have set the settings in LR import dialog right, all imported photos will have a red colour label.
  4. You will now have all imported photos visible in your Smart Collection named "Today - not edited".
  5. When you've got time, do your magic and edit the photos. When finished editing a photo, remove the red colour label. The photo will now disappear from the Smart Collection "Today - not edited".
  6. If all settings are made right, your edited photos with removed colour label will now be visible in the match smart gallery in Publish Services/Smug Mug you made before the match. You can now press "publish" and all your newly edited photos will be exported to SmugMug.
  7. By doing it this way you will have full control over imported photos, the ones that are not yet edited and the ones that are exported SmugMug.

Start over again - Easy peasy :-)

When you've got the hang of it, most of the work is done when the ref blows the whistle and the game is over. Sometimes, if the match is intense and it's party all over, concentrate on the most important photos. Goals, celebrations, injuries and so on. Take the rest after the match.

AFTER THE MATCH

Go through all imported photos and do final adjustments if needed and export changes.

I do tag all photos with player name. During the match this is to demanding, so this job is always done after the match. In LR this is helped off by activating "Face Detection". If you haven't tried it, do. It will save you a lot of time.

When all photos are finished with last edits and tags it's time for backup cleaning.

  1. Make Smart Previews of all photos. By doing this when all tagging is done and not before, you will ensure that all keywords are synced with Creative Cloud (CC)
  2. Enable LR sync to update CC
  3. When finished syncing, drag all new photos over to the LRCC to have the originals stored in CC

I shoot RAW and have not room far all my photos on the local drive. When all above is done I'll move my photos over to an external SDD and I take backup (several) of everything.

When finished it's time for a cup of coffee, look through Instagram and maybe post some photos and last but not least. Charge all your batteries :-)


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