Thursday, August 9, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: Shooting Equestrian Jumping Again

Yesterday, I had a little free time in the afternoon and decided to head back over to the Equestrian venue, since I really enjoyed shooting there earlier in the week. Normally, when I shoot a sport, I try to move on to capture something different (to show you all and for my portfolio), but when watching more of this on TV I noticed that they would change out the gates with different props and I saw some new ones that I did not shoot earlier. So off I went, back to Greenwich Park to capture some more photos.

I love this representation of the Parliament building (what many Americans call Big Ben, although technically Big Ben is the bell inside the tower).

This is one of the gates that I saw on TV, that was not there on the day that I was shooting last time. So, I captured images of this jump before moving on to other areas.

I have to admit it, yesterday I was a little tired of carrying tons of camera gear with me, so before heading over to Greenwich Park, I put my big lenses in my locker at the Main Press Center and took my smaller lens (nothing bigger than my 100-400mm). Although this was less tiresome on my body, it was frustrating to shoot images and not get good separation from the rider and the backgrounds (since I was shooting at f5.6 instead of f2.8). So I decided that the best way to solve this issue was to shoot more motion blur images.

For those of you who don't know what a motion pan shot is, I will explain this. Instead of freezing the action with a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec or something fast like that, I set the camera to the Shutter Priority setting and set the shutter for 1/30 sec. This is VERY slow for anything moving and likely to yield many blurry images. So, in order to grab the horse and rider in focus at this slow shutter speed, I must shoot images while moving the lens and following the rider at the EXACT same speed they are traveling. Even though I have practiced this many times, I can tell you that I had many rejects, and probably only liked 10% of what I photographed. Sometimes I would be following them at the wrong speed and sometimes they would change speed as they approached a gate. Not an easy shot, but I like the results because the audience is blurred and you can see the movement in the horse's legs.

This is a closer crop of the image above, showing you how sharp the rider is and how everything else shows movement.

In this case, both the foreground and background show a lot of movement, since the rider was passing behind a shrub. Normally I might reject this since his face is partially obscured, but I still really like the composition of this image and the way that his face is peaking out from the greenery.

This is a good example of a motion pan shot, with the rider perfectly in focus and a lot of movement in the horse's legs. 

After shooting the event, I walked back over to the venue's photo workroom to pack up. But as I walked over to that building I noticed how beautiful the surroundings were. There are times at the Olympics when we get so wrapped up in the sporting events, that we forget to look at everything else. I grabbed these last couple of shots before heading out. (I made the mistake of going out into the public area to shoot these - only 20 feet from the exit - and then was not allowed to re-enter the venue. I then had to walk back to the press entrance and go through security once again. Ooops, that cost me 15 minutes of precious time.)

One of these days, I will have to return to Greenwich Park to see this area as it normally looks.

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