I remember the days when I would shoot anything. Nowadays, I am a bit more selective about what I shoot. Being in a new place immediately gets the creative juices flowing, but building a body of work where you live is very important. Knowing those places that make great backdrops can give you an edge when deciding what to shoot. These days I look to shoot within my community, and I wanted to shoot some sports.
Above is Didcot equalising with a header from captain Luke Carnell.
Despite Didcot Town Football Club having its pitch a mere five minute walk from me, it must have taken me a month to figure out that it might be a good place to try it out. I emailed the club and they very generously allowed me to shoot a match, so I went along on the 20th December to one of their league games against Bridgewater Town.
One of my first queries was kit. I have an old zoom lens which I have mentioned before, and I took this along. I also had a monopod which was essential. I took along a flash, and my two prime lenses, and my a77 body. That was it. In the end, all I used was the camera, the telephoto lens and the monopod.
For settings, I shot in manual mode, with the preview engaged on the a77. This was really useful, as was the histogram. I set my aperture to f/5.6. This is the maximum aperture at the telephoto end. If I’d have set my aperture to f/4.5, my exposure would have been messed up every time I zoomed in. As you zoom in on a lens with a non-constant aperture, you lose light, and therefore your exposure goes. My compromise was to stick with f/5.6. I started the day at ISO-400 with some sunshine, and ended the day at ISO-8000 with floodlights.
I shot from a couple of different places, usually depending on where the pressure was. I found that being half way into a half was a pretty good place to be. I ended up being too far away from the other goal if anything had happened down there, but Bridgewater actually had a man sent off (justifiably, in my opinion), and it left Didcot with an advantage. Having said that, Bridgewater went two up before half time, and one goal I completely missed while I was doing something else (probably chimping). In any case, often with football you can sometimes predict how a game is going to go.
For next time, I might have a go at actually shooting from behind the goal. The issue I foresee is that if you are at the opposite end to the action, you’re going to have a dull time. Also the net may always be in the way. Perhaps shooting nearer the corner flag would be better. Next time I watch a football game, I will keep an eye out for where the photographers are.
One of the great things about shooting at a local game is you can get so close. I went to one of the Olympic football games at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff and you could barely see a thing. Also a small child was going berserk with a vuvuzela just behind us, and we had a pretty dull time. We were also a thousand yards from the pitch, and therefore even with a similar setup, I couldn’t see much.
Here’s a link to the Flickr account where I’ve put the best pictures. Out of 900 (shot on high speed burst I edited down to this).
All in all a good shoot. I learnt that I need to move about more, I need to take warmer footwear and headgear, and I learnt to keep an eye on the ball and the game.