When my son sheepishly approached me about shooting his big rugby game the mama bear instinct in me packed the gear and prepared for sideline action that would make my cub proud. I can't say I'm a big fan of shooting sport. Sure it's an opportunity to fire off some frames ( in high speed continuous drive that's probably more like a gazillion frames) but I guess peak of the action isn't what fuels my creative thirst. The game was scheduled for 11am on what was a beautiful clear blue sky, sunny day in Sydney. Whilst I was grateful for the glorious 20 degrees weather mother nature gifted us, it spelt photography suicide in terms of high, harsh, overhead lighting. But hey, that's the nature of sports photography right, you simply have to make it work.
So undeterred, I threw on the 70-200m and 2x converter on the Mark III and mounted the entire kit on a monopod. I worked low to the ground, hoping to eliminate the scores of parents in the background cluttering the scene. I was grateful for the towel I had insisted my son take in case it was muddy. The grounds were definitely wet. Despite my enthusiasm for rolling around in the mud, the low vantage point had varying degree of success given that not all areas around the field were uncluttered. I guess that's just a given with sports photography. You can't eliminate the sidelines. The final element to battle was of course lighting, but really, what else can you do with midday sunny conditions aside from curse?.
All of these challenges aside, taking the opportunity to shoot something I don't typically shoot was invaluable. The nature of the photography that I gravitate to doesn't typically require the use of continuous drive mode, nor having to track and focus moving subject matter. Add to this, working in an ambient situation where you cannot decide on what time of day you shoot nor be able to control the light. To me it spoke to getting out of my comfort zone and having to really 'look' for picture making opportunities regardless of the less than desirable conditions. To me this also means broadening your technical skill set. This is why I have been investing time of late in learning how to light and photograph cars. In the words of today's social media wielding teenage population - WTF?!
Seriously, I have been blown away with what you can achieve with one flash, remote triggers and a really hot looking car. It is truly a skill set all onto it's own. Will I ever shoot cars? I don't discard shooting anything once. More importantly, I fundamentally believe in pushing the boundaries of what I know and continually looking to improve my craft across the board. I figure a solid technical base will mean that one day when I desperately need to fulfill a creative vision, I'll be able to draw on that slice of craft that could just help me pull it all off.
Learnings aside, I had a hoot this morning. There I was rolling in the mud around the side lines cheering my cub on and firing frames like a possessed woman. You gotta love the sexy machine gun like sounds of a continuous shutter :-) Ok, a tad geeky perhaps. In the end, the boys put on a great game, winning against the only team they had lost to in the season so far. When the full time whistle blew I knew I had some nice shots the boys would enjoy and my teen cub would be equally happy with.
Not bad for a sunny, midday photo session.