Posts Tagged ‘sports photography’

Firstly I would like to state that all images on this blog are copyright to Cecil Paul Studio’s and we do not give any permission for any individual or company to copy, transfer, alter or amend any image in any known or unknown format without permission. Don’t be a digital thief and pay for the image if you like it that much!!

The above statement comes after one particular radio station robbed an image from here and used it for a promotion. Unbelievably another radio station then robbed that copy for their own radio promotion. The music industry complains about kids downloading songs for free and yet they are thieving when it suits them. Double standards at work which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

So onto September –

Things kicked off for us on the first weekend with the third series of the National Trampoline & DMT League, held at Birmingham University. This was a superb venue and being almost new gave us possibly the best balanced lighting of any event this year so far. When you can have your speed with a nice low iso its almost xmas as a photographer and this place delivered in swathes of light.

The weekend as a whole was manic as expected with some 600+ competitors over the two days. We were constantly busy and without barely time to visit the loo for most of both days. The evening meal and a few cold ones, on the Saturday evening, to wash it all down makes things worthwhile though and helps us get a nice nights sleep.

We took some 8500 images in total and had our usual excellent response to the quality of our image and montage offerings over the weekend. Sadly the organisers hadn’t produced the promised event program and so, with no advert, all things regarding our gallery codes went out of the window which had a knock on effect to the subsequent online sales. You’d think they would learn from this, as we were not the only disappointed sponsor, yet you’ll see in Octobers roundup they never. Incompetence at the highest level.

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One thing can always be said for the competitors though is they have a good laugh when there and will happily pose for images such as this one below.

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Our equestrian coverage also continued with several dressage events over the month, one of which was our own business dedicated event. This was a lovely day not only with the quality of competition shown but we had our own branded rosettes. Manor Grange Stud had commissioned a whole series of garlands and rosettes with our name and logo on which was absolutely lovely to see.

The other equestrian events were, as usual, slick and with no messing about. Thankfully the weather held out and so there were no monsoon days where I end up hiding under the main building canopy to shoot from. Our business from these events continues to grow at a steady rate and thus I believe we will chose to continue providing coverage into 2018 and possibly beyond.

These galleries remain our only open event galleries and can be found here – Equestrian Galleries

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Gymnastics also played a key part in September with two competition weekends hosted by Bridlington Gymnastics. This is proper grass roots stuff and we love it. No big arenas, no ego’s, just lots of enthusiastic kids and parents doing what they do. The competitors start around 4-5 years up to the seniors around the 16-17 age group. We are well looked after by the hosts and have a fantastic rapport with both the organisers, adults and kids alike. We are already booked for the 2018 events and look forward to them as its just a fun set of weekends.

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Back in July this year I did a bit of work with the band Wayward Sons when I covered their first ever live gig down in Bristol. This had come about from my involvement with their promotional videos for the new album which can all be read about in an earlier post.

September saw them out supporting UFO on their 2017 UK Tour. One particular date, the 15th, was also the official release date for the album. Thinking it would be a good idea to capture that night I emailed Toby and he said thanks, yes, pop along and do your thing. The night was superb and in my personal opinion the Sons were head and shoulders above UFO in musical deliver and enthusiasm. The crowd were bouncing along to the music, which noticeably stopped once UFO had taken to the stage. The UFO set was slick and polished though I feel lacked a raw feel. I could honestly say that you could have listened to this on the radio as visually and engagement wise things were seriously lacking. To put it into context I was sat uploading and editing my images in the main hall area whilst they were on. Looked up a few times just to make sure things were still going when the music stopped.

On a working basis the Picturedome at Holmfirth is not actually too bad to work in. Yes it is compact though the fans are all stood on a sloping floor leading upend away from the stage. Tis allowed me to move up and down and simply shoot over the top of those in front of me. Non of the usual clamouring about to secure a gap between heads and phones which is nice. Setting were mediocre as though the lighting operator did give some light it wasn’t nearly as much as that given to the headline act. Thank the lord for full frame cameras and f2.8 lenses.

The night finished, I had a good chat with the band and then it was away home, still damp from sweating in the pit for a nice warm shower and bed.

The images from this event are behind a secured gallery and only for the band to see. Images from the gig will be released as and when they see fit which is sad in a way as I like to see my images out there in the wild. To stop any thieving radio stations or any other publications grabbing images of the band you’ll just have to put up with this montage again. Shame how people spoil things for others.

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The month was topped off with a visit to City Of Leeds Trampolining & Gymnastics to undertake a specific shoot of gymnasts who had qualified for a host of national and international competitions. With all new leotards the head coach wanted a series of portrait images taking to help promote the club within the Yorkshire region.

The whole thing took around 4hrs to complete and with a happy head coach, general coaches, kids and parents I headed home.

That was not quite the end though regarding this as we are returning in January to film a whole series of short films about the club, their offerings and what kids can expect to be doing if they join the club. Really looking forward to that.

This image was a fun pic taken after all the kids had individually paraded in each of their leotards for their portrait to be taken. I know from my school photo experiences this isn’t fun so when the coach suggested a pic in the foam pit, we ended up with this.

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I’ll try not to leave things too long before blogging our October exploits.

 

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Sunday saw us booked to cover a regional qualifying round for the British Riding Clubs UK Championships. Winners and, I believe, certain others would be qualifying for the National finals in a few weeks which is quite some achievement when you consider what they have to do on a horse.

Horse jumping has always intrigued me, especially those jumps where the height simply doesn’t appear achievable, yet the horse somehow gets over without knocking off the poles. So, as a non rider myself, the fact that people can actually make a horse complete any number of manoeuvres, which include almost dancing, to me, is exceptional. I know full well that many hundreds of hours go into practicing and training so when something goes wrong even I tend to be a little disappointed for the rider. Equestrian riding is almost an art with the subtle ways in which they guide and instruct the horse. There are no verbal commands just fine control of the reigns, stirrups and seating position of the riders. There may be more and I’m happy to be corrected if there are.

So take the difficulty of equestrian competition and place a twist into the mix, with the twist being two horses doing the same routine at the same time. Oh yes and with a maximum of 20% of the allotted time spent apart with the other 80% of the routine side by side, around the arena.

I saw this “Pairs” riding for the first time on Sunday and was totally impressed with the four groups of competitors who took part in their respective groups. The look of concentration was clear for all to see on their faces throughout the routines, with the elation of finishing what they obviously knew was a solid routine visible too.

As a photographer this was no different to any other equestrian event I shoot with just one exception, capturing the 2 horses in complete harmony and literally mirroring each other step for step. Now that sounds easy yet I assure you it isn’t. This actually happens only a few times in any routine owing to all the turning and change of step etc. Ideally, so one pair told me, they have 2 horses of the same size etc etc. As this is not too easy to find at club level you tend to get one horse which is slightly bigger than the other. This is like having one tall human walk alongside a smaller human and expected to walk stride for stride for 8 minutes. It rarely happens but thats the image they want capturing.

Knowing my strides and turns I was able to second guess when the pairs were likely to come together in that perfect harmony moment. Even then only two of the four actually achieved this whilst travelling in a direction that gave a suitable image. Standing and watching this happen as they trotted away down the arena, away from you with bums and backs onshore, is rather demoralising. In those instances you simply capture what you can from the opportunities given when they are correctly positioned in their line of travel.

The day for us was great with the lovely weather and a few cool drinks to boot. With many of the competitors asking about images we also hoped for a good response with the galleries which I am pleased to say has actually been superb. We have also received several messages complimenting the quality of our images.

I know, from a riding friend, that a lot of the local clubs either use someone they know i.e. a rider or parent for photography, with some clubs having serious amateur or even alleged professionals shooting them. Now I am not here to slag anyone off so I will just say that a lot of these  images tend to be somewhat lacking in technical ability.

On Sunday and ,as an example of this, we had a very ice lady who came to stand near us to photograph several different horses, all from one club. She quite openly declared herself as the club photographer, for those horses, and was most impressed with our setup and the way we conducted ourselves. After the first horse she captured, someone came over and asked her to turn the camera flash off. She had a Canon DSLR, with pop up flash, the camera set to auto and was just clicking away happily with the flash trying to doing its thing against the sun. She asked for some advice and I suggested changing the settings to either TV or AV and adjusting those to shoot what she wanted. She admitted to having not much of a clue so I showed her two options that would improve the images shot and, more importantly, not require flash. Did she listen …. nope she went to the other end of the arena so the sun was more to the side of her. Oh well you try and help lol.

So the images we took. I’m going to keep this down to the usual couple of images I like to add at the end of a post.

If you would like to see the days images click here – Cecil Paul Studios Equestrian Galleries

Image One :

The one where it all comes together, just at the right time, right angles, riding positions and just togetherness. Riding like this for an 8 Minute routine is not easy.

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Image Two :

When you just know it was excellent. The elation at completing a quality equestrian pairs routine. I do believe these two ladies came first and thus through to the national finals.

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When not on a commissioned job, or working in the studio and I actually have a weekend free I like to take a look at local motor racing circuits and see whats on. Usually there’s nothing of interest happening or the wife has something organised for us. Last weekend however my Saturday was free, yes totally free and with the VMCC holding one of their racing events at my local circuit Cadwell Park I was on my way.

I love Cadwell Park as the place is quite simply a superb circuit, non of the flat round and round places that are all too common these days. Full of hills and sweeping bends with the infamous mountain it ticks all the boxes for spectators and photographers alike. The VMCC events are totally open so you can have a good, unrestricted wander around looking at the machinery on show. The facilities are good, there’s always a burger van there for lunch and coffee which is reasonably priced and finally the toilets are clean and functional. There is a hospitality building, if that’s your Raceday thing, excellent access to a good 80% of the racing with just one small strip inaccessible. Official photography is exclusive to one chap, which I find odd for such a big place. Access to the prime spots is therefore a non starter, though there are plenty of places you can stand if the crowds aren’t too big. A nice 200-400 zoom or fixed 400mm 2.8 would create an even keel though as you could reach across to achieve those angles. Justifying the £8k spend to the wife would be a tad difficult though lol.

I enjoy this racing for two reasons. Firstly I rode motorbikes in my youth having range of Yamaha’s from 350cc through to 750cc over several years. Fabulous carefree times where the adrenaline rush of twisting a throttle and being catapulted down the road made my youthful brain buzz. Living in Germany for three years and having speed limit free autobahns made fun for modding the latter, bigger engined machines, and in the early 90’s and quieter roads having an absolute hoot out there. Secondly I love capturing motorsport and movement. Motorsport, like gymnastics, needs to have a perspective of movement. All of the top publications will show on track imagery with a sense of movement. This will be within the tires and spokes of the vehicles as nothing else really moves. A adjusting settings to continually provide this effect, coupled with some clever planning helps produce some lovely imagery. Doing this consistently to provide a gallery of the days events takes some skill. I see many online images that are simply awful in tat the bike has been shot at such a high speed it simply looks stationary. Not ideal when trying to provide that sense of movement.

I was actually approached by a group of men, from a local amateur photography club, who stated they were struggling with aperture speeds around the 1/1000th of a second. They had recognised my “Gear” and labelled me either Semi Pro or Pro so popped over for a chat. Lovely blokes, well mannered and respected the fact I was cracking on capturing the racing. In short they where simply after the fastest shutter speed they could grab to freeze the action. They almost had a seizure when I showed them a shutter speed under 1/250th sec. To put it simply they tried it, failed at the panning and surprisingly went back to high shutter speed, high ISO’s and medium apertures of F4+. Using stock kit lenses didn’t help their cause on flexibility but with the day being clear and bright they could easily capture imagery like mine with a bit of effort. Even under 1/250th and an ISO 100 gave me apertures of between f.35 – f11 through the day. Anyway they stayed at their super speed options as I came across them again when I moved to the chicane. Blasting away on high speed shutter with high speed apertures and ISO’s it was like they were shooting some rare, single moment, wildlife rather than repetitive circuit racing. Oh well.

All in all I had a fabulous day. The smell of 2 stroke oil in the air, rasping engines all blessed with some bright dry weather made things great. From traditional motorcycles to scooters, sidecars and the odd rare one off’s that survive into today an excellent day out for any petrolhead. A plus point, for me anyway, being that a few riders came to me for business cards made things worthwhile.

A couple of images from the day now follow. To see the entire days images see here 2017 VMCC Cadwell Park

A Norton, I believe..

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These sidecar guys are brave or a little unhinged or potentially both.

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A BSA Bantam in full flow.

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Equipment wise all images were captured using a Canon 5Diii with Canon 70-200mm IS ii zoom. Settings varied owing to location and light available but nothing shot over 1/250th sec thus portraying the speed involved.

Oh for one of those magic Media Passes to reach the prime shooting points 😂

New up were the NW Championships held at Wigan’s Robin Park Arena. The Arena and indeed the centre as a whole is superb with some excellent facilities.

It’s only downfall for us is the dismal lighting afforded in the the main hall. Rows of old failing strip lights adorn the ceiling with many having long since expired from this life whilst others make last ditch attempts at lighting the floor like distant stars burning out never to be seen again. We have made enquiries as to if the lighting is on the agenda to be changed yet sadly, as with most things council run, until we are basically holding competitions by candle light there is no plan or indeed funding to replace these lights.

An easy comparison as to how poor the lighting has got is to compare it to a more updated lighting hall. An example of this is in Hull and having recently had a complete lighting change to new strip lights allows us a shutter speed of 1/500th sec at f2.8 and a very credible indoor ISO of 1000. This allows us to capture all the action with lovely stills and quality exposures which require very little in their post event processing. To compare we are pushing the limits at Robin Park with a reduced shutter speed of 1/400th sec at f.28 yet a whopping ISO of 5000. Now I won’t begin on how increasing ISO and reducing shutter speed affects exposure values and stops of light etc as I will assume most of you know. With that knowledge you will understand that we are thus pushing boundaries with the quality of printing. Yes things can be modified and “improved” in Photoshop but it’s always nice to simply take a correctly exposed image, at quality settings which require little doing to them. Post production requires constant white balance corrections dependant on where in the hall we shoot from owing to the vast difference in lighting quality across this single ceiling of light.

The event as always was a roaring success for all involved, with the added bonus of Olympic Trampoline Silver Medallist Bryony Page turning up to talk with the competitors and also present some of the medals at the close of the event. To be fair she was an absolute star even though the onslaught of kids wanting a signature or selfie with her was relentless. I’ve seen some so called stars who can be quite off with hoards of kids yet Bryony simply soaked it all up like a true professional. Nothing was too much and it took her being rescued by one of the organisers to give her a break from it all.

Some 400+ competitors and the associated swathes of parents and family there to watch made for an excellent day.

For us it was another 5500 images, a queue long after the event had finished and home for 2130hrs.

The image below shows the afternoon medal winners with Bryony and the bouquet of flowers she was presented with. The full image was somewhat larger and included all the judges for the day.

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This is something that I knocked together for the BSGA Schools Trampoline series and to advertise that we were covering the Northern Zonals along with the upcoming finals.

The young lady in the leotard is my daughter. The image of her in that pose was taken in the studio and then simply photoshopped onto the swirling galaxy image. Taken with her sat on a black sheet and with a black background the removal was easy to accomplish. With a couple of star burst or lens flares added to strategic places the image was good to go.

I could have taken far more care over this yet as it was only going online to social media and not being printed out I felt that the time making things perfect was not justified. Issues with the hair, feet etc could have been sorted to look a little more convincing but for something such as this is there a need?

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September saw the 4th round of the Uk Trampoline / DMT League take place in Newcastle. These events are huge and extremely demanding for us not only as a business yet also on a personal level.

The weekend starts a few days before with the preparation of online galleries being set up correctly and with coordinated passwords for guest access. Equipment checks follow with essentials such as all batteries receiving a last top up charge to ensure we at least have power. We drain at least 4 of the Canon LP-E6N’s each day depending on usage. Usage obviously varies depending on the amount of competitors which dictates how many clicks are required per day.

We aim to capture at least one present to the judges followed by as many of the 10 subsequent moves as possible or look good and then the final present at the end of the routine to the judges. This can provide a maximum of 12 images per competitor. Consider that every competitor does 2 routines and it becomes obvious that with a minimum of 400 competitors at an event we easily reach 10,000 images when podium images are included. Earlier in the year at Cardiff there were 800 competitors over the 2 days and we came away with some 15,000 images to process.

The weekend starts with a drive to the host city on the Friday evening where we have a pre-booked hotel for the 2 nights. If there is time we visit the venue and start our setup if possible. This saves us a little time on the Saturday morning yet as we have been doing this some time now we can set the desk up in some 10 minutes from bare tables to fully functioning sales desks.

The weekend then just steam rolls along taking us along with it. Photographers almost hold the 4.5kg of camera & lens to our faces for 9hrs straight. This can be extended if delays are incurred by competitors crashing out and requiring medical assistance. This has a massive effect on your arms and back which can start to stiffen by lunchtime. The Sunday becomes a mind over matter exercise with the pain that just doesn’t go away. The desk is a continuous queue of people wanting to view, and hopefully purchase the images taken. As Sunday ends for the photographers the desk continues to run. It can, and has, run on for over 2hrs after an event has finished. Still with a queue of parents waiting, the venue almost cleared and up to a 4hr drive in front of us every potential purchase is important so we stay. We arrive home late on the Sunday night, sometimes gone midnight, and after unloading the van its bedtime.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and sometimes even Thursday are then solid editing and uploading of images to the respective galleries.Whilst most people understand the process I can guarantee at least 2 emails are sent on the Sunday, whilst we are still shooting the ongoing competition, asking what they can’t yet see any images in the gallery. We even place a notice at the start of every gallery notifying visitors of the process and yet they still email. Sometimes you just wonder how some people cope with life.

Once Friday arrives its simply time to check everything again if we have work on that upcoming weekend too. We are working almost every weekend of 2017 with just a few free or deliberately crossed off because of birthdays or holidays etc. You have to be busy to survive yet sometimes you just wish things would stop or at least slow down.

This particular weekend produced a reasonable 10,100 images which were edited by the Wednesday. With just one more qualifier to go in a few weeks time it’ll soon be the finals down at the Velodrome in London and thats a big one.

The images are simply what we post on social media to announce when certain panels and beds have completed galleries, though the second one just goes to prove that the competitors can still have time to enjoy themselves too.

You can read all about the league here – Trampoline / DMT League

All serious but with smiles –

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Having a bit of fun too or in one case how not to bounce –

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One series we now cover had its 2015 finals last weekend in Wigan. Odd but they don’t actually start the qualifiers until late in the year and then have the finals in the first quarter of the following year. Must be an educational thing.

Anyway the culmination of all the qualifiers and subsequent knock out rounds around the country led us to Wigan for an excellent days competition. Some 400 competitors, all of school age, battling it out for an array of age and ability awards. The atmosphere within the competitors and most of the parents was one of excitement and positivity. As always there were a couple of moaning minis but hey ho the world needs these miserable gits to laugh at.

Whilst there was the usual array of Elite gymnasts form other series we now cover there were also the novice and disabled individuals of which some were truly inspirational. It was superb to see that all the gymnasts encouraged and even assisted in helping some of these gymnasts achieve their given goal. Grassroots sports is all too often neglected these days owing to money etc yet this is where, I personally see, the truly compassionate side of competition regardless of age, gender, money, disability etc etc. Whilst I agree some degree of elitism/dedication is required to reach the pinnacle of any sport people shouldn’t abandon or forget their roots and where they once started at the bottom.

Our coverage of the UK National League starts this weekend down at Southampton. This should be interesting as the whole series of qualifiers is maxed out at the 750 competitor safety limits. Last year we were dealing with 350 – 750 competitors per event so this year will see a marked increase in the obscene amount of images taken and GB storage used with our equipment. I still await the announcement for the 5D Mkiv specification before making a decision on at least one new body owing to the telephone number shutter count one of our 5Diii’s currently has. Nice and quick please Canon 🙂

A quick image showing some of the winners from last weekend.

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As my previous post explains I spent this weekend away in Perth, Scotland as the official photographer for the Home Nations Trampolining/DMT championships.

The journey up was horrendous as the weather was simply appalling. Torrential rain whipped up by high winds made driving a total nightmare. Even with my ‘Quattro’ there were times when the vehicle aquaplaned in the rivers of water crossing the motorways. Suffice to say that when we finally arrived at the hotel there was a palatable sense relief, throughout my family, at our safe arrival.

Both days of competition produced some fantastic routines from the 400 competitors. I was shooting from an elevated judging panel mezzanine which gave me an elevated and less restricted view of the competitors. This elevated position also saved a great strain on my neck and shoulders with the reduced angle of my shooting position. Whilst I certainly still had fatigued arms and feet after each 8 hour day of continual shooting I woke on Monday morning quite sprightly and with no stiff neck.

A total of 1293 images, from 1400 taken, were deemed, by myself, suitable for sale and we were indeed busy, on both days of competition, selling the images. All are now live on the website, password protected & via the client access page, for people to purchase post event. I have found that parental attendance at events such as this is lower. Many clubs travel using mini busses as it’s far more cost effective so only local parents usually attend along with coaches who have driven the mini busses. We were inundated by kids wanting our web address and the gallery password so parents could be shown, and hopefully purchase images post event. The gallery has already been viewed by a decent amount of visitors and products have been purchased.

Our regular offering of prints, frames, key rings, mugs, jigsaws and collages are all available to purchase and are very popular. I found that offering too many options for purchase actually generated less sales. Narrowing the options to something easily viewed, rather than a 400 item list of product options, appears to work. The less is more thought.

So onto the photography. The stadium lighting was superb allowing more than adequate shutter speeds along with low iso’s. I found a simple balance allowing me to freeze all action with a suitable iso and an aperture of f/2.8. Custom white balance completed and I was ready to go on my elevated platform. From a power point of view I flattened 4 LP-E6 batteries over the 2 days.

So the big opening ceremony and competitor parade.

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My superb shooting position in the main arena meant even my 70-200 was rarely over 150mm unless it was the juniors competing. This allowed the subject to easily fill the frame with absolute minimal cropping to most images. Image taken on iPad by my daughter with only colour correction applied.

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One of the many contact sheets to show just how monotonous this event photography can be. There’s certainly no glamour with this work but possibly an RSI after a few years of doing it.

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My final comment with this post is about the now growing number of parents who feel they can ‘out do’ the “Pro” with their bridge cameras and phones.

On Sunday a man approaches the desk and asks to speak with me about images. At my next available opportunity I attend our desk to see what he wants, thinking he wants a deal on several images as we will negotiate price on bulk buys.

Oh no…… this guy has been snapping away, from the stands, with his Canon 400d and has an SD card full of blurred images with a serious yellow hue owing to the sodium lighting.

His request is for me to correct the lighting, attempt clean up and reduce the blurring of his images so that they looked like the ones we had of his daughter competing………….for FREE !!!!! and secondly to let him know my settings !!!!!

Short conversation with that chap who, as he toddled off, had a parent queuing let him know how rude his requests were.

Onward to Liverpool in a few weeks for another round of nationals before the finals in December.