As part of my current assignment for college I had to do a mini portrait shoot on location. I was shooting images at The Belfry golf course in Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield, England of a golf event staged for a charity called Veterans Contact Point. The event was organised by Balfour Beatty and a lot of the golfing Balfour Beatty employees attended. I was shooting sports style images like what you would see in a newspaper of the sports players shot by photojournalists as this was a kind of ‘working practice’ exercise. As well as capturing the sporty style shots, I had a brief from the event organiser telling me that they wanted some sort of group portraits. This aspect of the day fitted in perfectly for the assignment I was doing so I set about capturing the golfers images as they made their way around the golf course.
The day was very cold but as the sun came up into the sky it was very bright as there was no real cloud cover, perhaps one or two fluffy clouds here and there. This lighting condition provided me with some challenges which I had to overcome to get the shots how I wanted them, (for the portraits anyway) because more light like this for the sports aspect of the shoot made it easier as plenty of light helps you to use fast shutter speeds but still keep the ISO minimal providing you with better quality images that are sharp, frozen in time and with maximum detail with no photographic noise.
Above is one of the images I shot, there is no cropping in this image although it is very crop able as I used my Nikon D850 mounted on a monopod with the 70-200mm f2.8 lens attached. The D850 has a very high pixel count so when images shot with it are cropped there is still a very decent amount of pixels to make up the image.
Here are the camera settings for the shot, as you can see it is a fairly fast shutter-speed so I was not worried about camera shake at all. Generally as a rule of thumb you should keep the shutter speed to the same or greater a value to the length of the lens so, if you are using a 200mm lens you should keep the shutter speed above 1/200th of a second to shoot handheld or use a sturdy tripod. Advancements in lens technology like the vibration reduction and sport mode enable you to shoot at lower shutter speeds handheld but I had a monopod to help me too so there were no worries whatsoever. I was shooting at f3.5 here and generally all day I was shooting at around f4. This was so that I got the whole person in the shot in focus as the depth of field is wider than say f2.8.. I had learnt this from a previous American Football shoot that this is the way to get more sharp useable images unless I want some sort of artistic image using a narrow depth of field.
I asked the golfers to stand where they were in the shot because the background of the tree made for a much better looking shot and it was a lot easier to expose properly because to the right was a slight uphill gradient with nothing but sky in the background that was tending to blow out (over expose) the shots and also look rather boring. The look of the golfers standing on the 10th tee box looked a lot better. You can see the Balfour Beatty flag in the shot to because this is what the client wanted, to have some Balfour Beatty branding shown was one of the requirements for the shoot. The golfer on the right hand side of the shot was standing a little too far to the right causing a large gap between him and the other golfers. I asked him to move closer so that the shot would look more symmetrical providing better aesthetics to the image.
The above image I shot at around 8 am as the morning light (brilliant for landscapes) just peered over the 10th green of the belfry and it gave it a much better look to the shot as the right light tends to make an image look so much better bringing out the colours in the autumnal trees. I shot the image using the 70-200mm f2.8 lens at 200mm and f2.8 using an ISO of 80 to get as much detail as possible. Usually I would take this type of shot using a tripod but I did not have mine with me; I just had the monopod so, I used a faster shutter speed of 1/800th of a second so that I got no camera shake in the image and the flag and everything else for that matter would stay sharp. It was just an opportunist photograph of something I thought looked good, it was not something I was there for, but seeing as I saw the shot and I had my camera with me then why not shoot? It turns out that I love the image, but then I am an amateur golfer and a golf fan.
Sports photographers more now than ever end up shooting artistic shots while they are getting the images of what their client will generally want anyway so, this goes to show that as a photographer shooting sports during the day I naturally wanted to capture a artistic shot as I saw it and this is a positive for me during this working practice day shooting sports, or Golf as case case is because I am naturally doing what any other sports photographer would do.
Above is one of my favourite sport action shots of the day, as a golf fan and an aspiring sports photographer I was very pleased with this image because it is a classic shot of the golfer playing his shot from the bunker and the sand, the ball and the golfer are all frozen perfectly with the golfer in a classic release position towards the end of his swing. It shows the golfers face clearly and these are the types of shots I would need to get if I was shooting golf professionally. I shot the image from a distance in front of the golfer with the 70-200mm lens on set at 200mm and still had to crop the image a little. That is why I like the D850 so much because even with cropped images you still get lots of detail because of the high pixel count. Obviously, if I was shooting professionally I would just make sure I had a longer lens like a 400mm f2.8 or something similar.
The image above is another portrait of one of the groups of golfers, this time I shot at 102mm and got closer in to the players to show their characters in the image. I shot the image at f4.5 so that the people in the shot were pin sharp all over and would stand out from the background namely the trees again as this was the best position to put the people for their portraits without a doubt.
I thought the day went well and I got the shots that were required by the client. The weather being how it was made the job simpler with all the light coming from the sky although that is not something in my control anyway, I just work with what is presented to me. I feel my sports photography is at a point where it is very usable to the right client as I am using settings to get exactly what I and any news publication editor would want I am sure.
The portrait side of this shoot was pretty simple to me although I feel like I need to challenge myself more with different lighting conditions with portraits and use some sort of off camera flash and stuff like that and I will pretty soon I think in a personal project. Anyway for now, until next time goodbye.