Sports Photography & ‘Buying Lenses’

An interesting talk by Gordon Roberts last night. Many of the names from sports pictures he showed were well known to me. So seeing the photos and reports in that context was interesting. I think what was most illuminating about the first half was how different things are now for photographers. I was reminded by many of Gordon’s comments what it was like as I was taking my first steps as a starter at photography with an old Pentax in the 1970’s. Although, personally, I never liked all the wet processing stuff. So it was off to the chemist and waiting for three weeks for the shots to come back. Ah! Those were the days… (Not!). Hats off to Gordon for freelancing in that environment.

The second half of Gordon’s talk was more in the territory of today’s photographers. For me the most interesting part was to appreciate how poorly informed many judges are when it comes to sports photography. As one of my main interests is motor sport I have suffered under the ‘bizarre comments’ of some judges. “It’s a pity the driver of that rally car is obscured by the reflection on the windscreen…” (Photo taken in a forest on a jump where the vehicles were travelling at around 80 mph and catching them with four wheels off the ground was a real art). Or another classic – “You can’t see his face!”. That was a comment on a motocross rider in a full face helmet about 4 meters off the ground against a bright sky (not blown out).

I am not a committed horse lover. Nevertheless, they are wonderful photography subjects and quite lovely movers. They also have great sculpting of muscle and form. So it was interesting to get the spin on the horse portraits and racing shots. Maybe we could organise something for the club where we could get close to horses and see what we come up with. Anyone know a race trainer?

Thanks to Gordon Roberts for an interesting and varied evening.

We also had our ‘Buying Lenses’ clinic last night. You will have noticed that I changed the format a bit so we had a focus. Despite my email lots of people arrived after we had started so that was a shame. However, I felt we gained a lot from the discussion and there were lots of questions. We have planned most of the clinics for next year already. They will integrate with the new programme for 2011 – 2012. So look out for that at the AGM in May. In the meantime comments and helpful ideas for improving the monthly clinic would be welcome in the comments below this blog.

Note: The ‘Lenses’ handout from last night is on the newsletters page: It was by no means a definitive guide. It is intended as a resource to get you thinking. ]

By Damon Guy
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Sports Photography & ‘Buying Lenses’ — 5 Comments

  1. I think it is worth mentioning that when you are looking to buy a new lens the cost can be a very big factor. The considerations listed on my handout were to help you look at the important factors. The list is not exhaustive. Don’t look at the items on the list in isolation. Consider them against your budget, personal considerations, other factors and the opinion of others.

    Something we did not discuss last night was the sort of places you can get informed opinion. If people want to know of reliable resources I use for technical appraisal and information about equipment I will be happy to provide a few pointers.

  2. Last night’s talk was indeed interesting. The first half gave an injection of the trials and tribulations of pre-digital – maybe realism? Personally I preferred the second half.
    Gordon Roberts gave a lot of interesting tips on where to be to stand a chance of getting good shots (the rest is down to the photographer)of a particular sports action picture. He also did what a lot of judges don’t do: admit to and show his failures! I took great comfort in this…
    He also wasn’t afraid to express what a lot of us have been grumbling about – the sometimes unrealistic criticisms of judges.
    Another element I found fascinating was his treatment of photos to bring out the best of an image with software. This has inspired me to dig about in PaintShop and do some experimentation.
    As usual, I came away from the evening with a bit more knowledge than I went in with.


  3. Thank you, Damon, for such an informative Lenses Handout. I now know what sort of lens I should be getting for my Panasonic G2 to give me the most scope. Unfortunately I will have to sell the lenses I have already got, but it will be worth it!


  4. Prior to the excellent clinic demonstration lens evening, I have recently spent a great deal of internet time reading up on the many available expert lens reviews, my initial thoughts were leading me to consider a 120-400mm lens, now seeing and handeling for the first time, I feel my photographic interest/style, would not be complimentary to this type of lens.

    With a little more hands on camera lens insight, I have contacted a photographic company with the view of selling a number of my older type lenses/cameras and received a fair offer, enabling me to finance/justify the purchase of a better considered additional lens.

    Thank you Damon for organising such an informative lens clinic.

  5. A big thank you to Damon for the very insructive Workshop on “Buying Lenses”.
    I am sure that all those who attended, like me, found it very useful and beneficial in guiding us to buy the right lens!

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