Posts Tagged ‘sports photography’

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.

NW Champs

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.

Twin Image

 

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.