Posts Tagged ‘Trampolining’

March was one of those months that just flew by, was solid with bookings and when you get to the end of the month you sit back and think, yeah we did it.

The month kicked off with us covering the UK BSGA Trampoline Finals in Belfast. We had been booked for this since our coverage of the previous 2017 event. The organiser had approached us, asked us if we were prepared to travel and after some brief discussions we were booked again.

The journey and ferry was simply a repeat of the January travelling I had done for the Steel Panther & Wayward Sons tour, though this time there was no issue with snow. I’m pleased that this event was just outside the normal poor winter weather possibility as when the van is full of gear, I wouldn’t want to be driving in snow. We set off late on the Friday and arrived at Cairnryan around 2am on the Saturday morning. Into the ferry queue and heads down for a couple of hours before waking to embark on the ferry. Once on it was find a comfy seat and fall asleep again for the two hour crossing. Arriving in Belfast at the crack of dawn, already tired, was not the best start yet the only way we could do this. A quick stop for coffee’s and breakfast still saw us arrive nice and early at the venue.

Once in we got the desk set up, the camera settings agreed and then the show started. It was absolute mayhem from start to finish, as had been the previous years finals. Several hundred school kids vying for their places on the rostrum. Parents & teachers screaming instructions at them whilst judges & helpers tried to maintain some kind of semblance and organisation to it all. To be fair the day could have been a lot worse, the PA kept failing and so communication was sporadic and at times confusing for some, yet everyone in authority just pulled together and shoved the whole machine to the finish line, just over an hour or so late.

We knew things would overrun so booking a ferry back on he same day would be almost impossible to predict and I would be seriously sleep deprived. We had therefore booked a lovely B&B just outside Belfast and, it transpired, from where we could see Stormont on the hill too. I had barely sat down and I was nodding off so an early night was had by all, to which our slumber was only disturbed by our alarm the following morning. Up, showered, breakfast and then back in the van for the ferry, the crossing & the subsequent five hour drive back to home. We arrived home mid afternoon after a no rush, plenty of coffee stop, journey.

Photography wise this was quite simple other than the open glass ceiling lights. The sun was bright and so large sun spots moved slowly accross the trampoline beds throughout the day. Altering your exposure is easy enough, though when you have just done so and the sun pops behind a cloud things can go dark. Thankfully Lisa, on our desk, was up to the job of getting these images onto our screens in a suitable state and as always did an excellent job of selling them too.

Flag bearers from the final awards ceremony.

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March also saw us cover, for the third year, the Yorkshire Gymnastics Regional Finals at Haltemprice Sports Centre. This is an absolute gem for us as its so local we can literally leave home 15 minutes before our access time. As it was our third year we knew exactly what was involved, what was expected and how we would deliver it all.

The day went smoothly and actually finished on time, which is a massive bonus for us, allowing us to have an evening meal at a most sensible time for once. Photography wise this location does not have the best of lighting and so the ISO’s are rather high. As this doesn’t bode well for cropping the pressure to capture things in an almost printable version is high. Not the easiest thing to do though once you work out what sells, where the gymnasts are doing those moves, you simply position yourself and hope things fall into place along with some good general imagery.

Its also great that they all have such a sense of fun too.

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The remainder of March was mopped up with equestrian work and another superb, one off, job which will be getting its own entry on the blog. Loch Lomond anyone?

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February saw us have an almost complete calendar filled with equestrian competitions other than one weekend of gymnastics in Wigan for the NDP 3 qualifying.

The equestrian work continues to grow and our images have been used in both the Equestrian Life and Horse & Hound Publications since we began. As I have mentioned before the work is not particularly difficult other than standing outside for several hours at a time. When the weather is kind, the job is great though if the weather is not so good then it can be a real headache. With persistent rain I usually start shooting and see how things go. Sadly if the images are being spoilt by the intensity of the rain and its affect on the images then I pack up and go home. I did stick it out in the early months of 2017 though quickly realised that we had not, and still have not, sold a single image when it is either raining or misty.

Thankfully all of the dates that I covered in February all stayed dry and so I captured full days of competition.

The NDP 3 Qualifying event at Wigan was almost a repeat of the NDP 2 event, the previous month. More fierce competition with competitors trying to grab the all important points to take them into the national rounds. Again the day was a success for us on both the image and sales fronts, though thats now it at Wigan until the Autumn when the NW Championship series returns.

Some equestrian images including jumps.

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January is usually a quiet month for us. Gymnastic competitions are few and far between and most outdoor events, including our equestrian work, have yet to start. 2018 however started with two large events for us.

Firstly there was a re scheduled North West NDP Qualifier weekend in Wigan followed by a weekend at Huddersfield for the BSGA Northern Qualifying Event. The Wigan event is one of three qualifying events which can see competitors continue onward to national event qualification. The competition is fierce, qualification places are limited and the entire weekend is absolutely superb to watch and indeed cover. The weekend as a whole, for us personally, was a success and we left having fulfilled what we set out to do as always in deliver the best coverage possible. Starting as we meant to continue throughout 2018 we captured a rather modest 6000 images.

Secondly we covered the BSGA Northern trampoline competition qualifier for the finals which are to be held Northern Ireland during March this year. We are booked to cover the Finals too so it was interesting to see who, as in individuals and indeed schools, qualified. At this stage a large amount of the competitors are known to us from other competitions, with mostly the school groups having individuals we have not seen before. Having not been able to cover the North East qualification event in November this also let us see what they had on offer to challenge at the finals. Again the weekend went well, some 7500 images were taken and profit conversion was excellent. February was fast approaching and we had big smiles on our faces already.

So the social media image for the NDP 2.

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And the social media image for the Northern BSGA Regional Qualifier.

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We already knew that December only had the one large event for us. This was the Trampoline & DMT League 2017 Finals which were to be held at the Velodrome in London.

Whilst this is a prestige event it is also a right royal pain in the butt for us. The two days are simply manic, if previous years events are to go by, along with two huge drives to and from London along with overpriced accommodation. Prestigious though not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination.

We arrived nice and early only to find that, for the third year running, we had not been issued laminates or passes to the event. This put me in a bad mood, from the off, which I found hard to contain when speaking to representatives of the League. As always one individual, the same individual as previous years, was blamed for our omission for the sponsors list. As sponsors we are promised the earth each year and yet delivered almost nothing once we have paid our sponsorship money to them. This fact alone is making me wonder if the whole series is with continuing with beyond 2017. There are some lovely and genuine people involved with running the League, though sadly there are also a couple of soft heads who just don’t seem to care about anyone other than themselves.

The weekend, as always, was utterly manic in every respect. Panels over running, accidents delaying competition and organisers running about like headless chickens trying to resolve the monumental pile of issues being thrown at them. Sunday’s presentations were rushed because of over running which meant our desk receiving an unwarranted barrage of complaints that winners had not been given suitable time on the podium for pictures. We happily sent them to the organisers as this also affects our sales.

To top things off, on the Sunday, we ended up almost being evicted from the premises for not having sponsors laminates. Yes almost 48hrs after we had arrived there was still no sign of our laminates. Thankfully our request for the security supervisor to intervene and talk to a representative of the League calmed things down and we continued to trade until the last image of the day had been sold.

The drive home was taken after a deep sigh and a quick chat about us and the 2018 series. What is true is that we won’t be continuing with them in the current style of agreement without concrete guarantees and penalties for failures on their part.

December also saw us cover the Fenland Flyers Xmas function, which also happened to be their 10th anniversary as a club. An excellent evening as always.

A few remaining dates were filled with equestrian competition, though you can see from the image I have posted, the sun is low and the air is now cold. Already looking forward to spring next year with this particular strand of work.

So that was it for 2017. Year on year we have grown substantially in events covered and takings. Profits, after costs, are also up and we have bookings in to not only 2018 yet 2019 also. Now for a nice two weeks off over Xmas & New Year.

The Trampoline & DMT League’s impressive medals.

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An example of the rushed podiums, which caused complaints.

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A pic from the Fenland Flyers function, taken against our portable studio back drop.

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And finally a cold chilly pic from one of the equestrian events.

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Merry Xmas & Happy New Year.

 

The year certainly kicked off in style and other than the first weekend we were booked for all subsequent weekends. Year on year this was a large increase as have been the bookings for the entirety of 2017. We either have odd days on a weekend spare or no space at all until the second week in December. Word of mouth has seen us be snapped up over several regions and now with the equestrian work a weekend off will be rare. We have however reached agreement that for 2 weeks in August I will not take any bookings and leave 2 weeks empty as agreed in 2016.

The middle two weekends were both gymnastics with the North West BSGA Zonal Qualifiers followed by the North West NDP Individual & team qualifiers. Both huge weekends for not only ourselves but those involved I would say some 800-1000 competitors were involved over each weekend. A massive undertaking for both organisers and ourselves which I am pleased to say ran smoothly for both sides.

We now offer some new versions of our popular event montages which have gone down well. Maintaining prices at £10-£25 depending on how many images are chosen we have simply mixed the orientation of imagery that can be selected. This has allowed imagery such as team photo’s that tend to be landscape in orientation to be mixed with action images that tend to be in portrait orientation. Further options are currently being trialled for offerings.

January ended up being our busiest January for the last five years. It also yielded the highest take and subsequent conversion to profit too. With repeat bookings for next January we can hopefully rely on a good start to 2018 also.

This blogs image is a triple montage from one of the gymnastics events.

Jan 17

 

The end of 2016 was somewhat manic and so to simply write up about each and every event would be literacy lunacy at best. It would probably bore most people to sleep also.

The biggest event of the year for us was the Trampoline League Finals which were held at the Velodrome in Londons Olympic Park. Some of you may recall that we also covered the 2015 finals at the Copper Box Arena, across the road. Though the velodrome was clearly built for cycling the fact that the track was there made an excellent barrier between competitors and spectators. This kept the main competition floor clear of curios spectators that ignored keeping the floor clear of spectators at the Coper Box. You now have to imaging some 600+ competitors over the 2 days all doing two qualifying routines on the Saturday and then onto the actual finals on the Sunday. To say this is manic for us would be a gross understatement on the physical workload imposed. The two days saw us capture some 12,500 images in total which were all individually colour checked, cropped and uploaded into specific online galleries by the Thursday of the same week. Literally 7am to 11pm, over four days, continually using 2 computers to edit with is a guaranteed headache by 12 noon each day. Plenty of water consumed its almost like a marathon for your mental abilities to remain focussed on what you are doing. As with anything repetitive this can go somewhat wrong at times and this is where you take that 5 minute break and grab some air and refresh your brain.

The weekend was the success that the previous year had been too. As a consequence we are booked to cover the 2017 series including finals, which are again at the Velodrome. Our only niggle was the location for our sales desk which was somewhat stratospheric in location and required quite a trek, by potential customers, to reach us. This year we will be requesting a more local to the people spot.

Here’s my daughter with the view from our desk. This was the Friday evening during setup.

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Other notable jobs we undertook at the end of 2016 where the BSGA Schools qualifiers for the Yorkshire, North West & North East regions. These were held over three weekends, owing to their size, and again kept us busy as they were all held on successive weekends.

The Yorkshire championships were also held which was a mad weekend away in Huddersfield. Another fine spectacle of well drilled kids showing their skills to a most interested audience.

After a few Xmas parties for clubs and businesses the year came to a close for us in the third week of December. To actually sit and not have to worry for a couple of weeks about batteries, printers, monitors, and anything else equipment wise was lovely and allowed us to enjoy both Xmas and the New Year.

2017 was now knocking on the door. Bookings started in the January and with what was already a good solid years bookings did not include the surprise contract which arrived at the end of January. With several bookings already in for 2018 things were looking good.

I’ll leave with the image of our business logo being shown on the giant screens at the Velodrome. When I looked up and saw this for the first time I got one of those big silly smiles across my face. All the hard work was worth it.

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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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