Wednesday, August 11, 2010

14. An organized event

As luck would have it, there already was an event at which I had planned to take photographs, in fact I had been asked to go and take photographs.  My next door neighbour, Niall, comes from Ireland and has a strong interest in Gaelic sports, both as spectator and participant.  He is part of the Munich Irish Football team and once a year they have a tournament in Munich at which several teams from around Europe come to play.

I was not there on a formal basis and other than Niall only knew one or two people there, however, I was able to freely walk around and take photographs of the play and the teams.  My personal goal was to capture some strong action shots as well as any cameo's of individual players.  This would be a chance to work as a sports photographer for the day and made an ideal exercise for this course.

In the photo's below Munich are the team playing in Blue and White.

Equipment wise, I took two camera my full frame 5D2 and a crop sensor 40D.  My rationale would be to mount a 300mm tele on the 40D giving an effective focal length of 480mm at f/4 and a midrange zoom or short tele on the 5D for closer range close ups.  Supplementing this was a sturdy monopod to mount the tele equipped camera on, to releive me and provide some stability on what would be quite long range shots.  I have cropped the photo's and adjusted for exposure and colour in Lightroom.  One challenge of the day was that it was a mixture of strong hot sun and occasional thundery rain showers.  The key constraint was going to be keeping the shutter speed high enough to capture the action.  In the exposure details accompanying each photo, I will list the native focal length and the effective in brackets when shooting the 40D.

First job was to get a shots that set the scene, this one shows the Munich team getting ready for kick-off, with the ambulance in the background and a few spectators.  The ambulance was needed, this is quite a tough sport as my photo's will demonstrate:

5D2, 135mm, 1/2000, f/2.8, ISO 100

This was not a great photo and it proved difficult to create an image that spoke of the whole event, largely due to the fact that the play was spread across several football fields and was in a mostly flat area.

The next two shots are the two team, mens and womens, getting a team talk prior to kick off:

40D, 300mm (480),1/1250, f/4, ISO 200

In this image I have gone in close to ensure that the team completely fills the frame and used a shallow DoF to separate the team from the background.  The womens team takes a different approach placing them as a smaller group within the context of the playing field and surrounding greenery

5D2, 135mm,1/640, f/2.8, ISO 100

As stated above my main goal at the event was to try and capture the action.  The next photo is a personal favorite in this sequence, capturing the moment with the player in the air putting his power into a kick.

40D, 300mm (480),1/1000, f/4, ISO 200

However, this photograph has a flaw, the football has left the frame.  In this case that does not diminish the photo too much as the viewer will instinctively know that the ball has left the frame, however, a similar shot with the ball in it conveys more information.

40D, 200mm (320),1/1000, f/5.6, ISO 200

This image loses the players face and so the implied sight line is gone, but the line from the boot to the football adds information to the photograph.  I prefer the first image for its photographic quality, however, the second one says more about the game that is being played, although in neither of these two images is it yet clear that this is Irish football and not Association football.

The next two images get much closer to the action and in each there is clear eye to ball contact adding to the movement implicit in the pictures.  The second photo also brings home the fact that this is a contact sport in which handling of the ball is permitted.  In the second photograph I particularly like the fact that the player with the ball is looking now towards where he will take it, whilst the tackling players view is fixed on the ball that he desperately wants to take.

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

My final photo emphasizing the importance of the ball in frame is another large kick up field. In this case the ball takes the center of the frame with the players occupying the edges, but again all eyes are towards the ball

40D, 200mm (320),1/500, f/4, ISO 200

A key element of Irish football is the fact that the ball spends much of its time in the air and players fight for the ball whilst jumping.  This makes for some spectacular photography capturing the aerial competition and collisions that inevitably happen.  With these photographs timing and anticipating the moment are key, even with the camera set to continual shooting, the action is so fast it can be missed.

40D, 300mm (480),1/750, f/4, ISO 200

40D, 300mm (480),1/1250, f/4, ISO 100

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 100

Although these jumping shots are dynamic, they do not reveal much about the individual as the action is too distant.  I also wanted to be able to get close enough to reveal the determination and stress of close action on the field.  The following 4 images are all framed so the players nearly fill the frame and so that the facial expression is clearly visible:

40D, 300mm (480),1/3200, f/4, ISO 200

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

I particularly like the last shot, as the player gets dumped and is about to hit the ground pretty hard, Irish football is not a game for the light hearted.  This image gets to grips with the physicality and commitment of the players.  The ladies team is also pretty tough, the following 3 photos are from the ladies competition:

5D2, 135mm,1/2000, f/2.8, ISO 100

40D, 300mm (480),1/3200, f/4, ISO 200

40D, 300mm (480),1/2500, f/4, ISO 200

Whilst capturing the speed and aggression of the game was my primary goal I also wanted to come back with some other images that add a social context to the day or explain some more about the activity.

What happens when you break the rules:

40D, 300mm (480),1/1000, f/4, ISO 100

This was also designed to be a family event, and the following photo is designed to capture that with the players framed against the children's bouncy castle, with the older two guys watching (a generational comment).

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

Portraits were easier with the goalkeepers, first of all here is the Munich goalie (Niall) having a drink:

40D, 300mm (480),1/1600, f/4, ISO 100

and another shot using a deliberate blur, but leaving enough info on the shirt to indicate the #1 player in goal.

40D, 300mm (480),1/250, f/4, ISO 200

My last portrait is of the Das Haag goalkeeper, a team that did not fair too well, guess this shows partly why

40D, 300mm (480),1/1500, f/4, ISO 200

Other than these photo's I aslo took a couple with a more humerous nature, the first being a spectator bringing his own seating

40D, 300mm (480),1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

and a shot of one of the players between games - this really was a tough game

40D, 130mm (208),1/2500, f/4, ISO 200

Finally two team group shots, with each of the two teams:

All in all a great day and wonderful opportunity to learn about shooting fast action sports.  The biggest learning is that I could not capture the random sporting moments, i.e. the goals and major incidents.  What I had to do was to anticipate the action at points at which I could be sure something would happen.  This was primarily set pieces.  The reason was that the action moved faster than my camera can easily track focus.  To get a good shot I had to select a position to stand relative to the field and then take photographs when the play entered a sweet spot in range of my camera.

No comments:

Post a Comment