Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Women's 1500m long track speed skating

The other night I had a little free time after shooting an afternoon hockey game, and since the Olympic oval is near enough to the hockey arena, I decided to photograph the women's 1500m speed skating race from 9:30pm until 11pm.

Like most of the ice skating events that I have photographed (other than hockey), I started off shooting with a fast shutter to freeze the action. I started with the Canon 70-200 2.8 lens, but quickly switched to the Canon 100-400mm lens since I wanted to get a little closer to the skaters.

I like the photos taken at 1/1000 sec but after shooting many laps of this, it was time to challenge myself with the slow shutter panning shots again. I know...I are thinking "He is doing that again?", but it yields so many cool images, I just can't help myself. Maybe I should call this the Pan Olympic Games?

Here is the deal with motion panning: It is not uncommon to shoot 25 images to get one that is both sharp and a decent composition. It is a high risk way to photograph, but as you can see, it sure makes for some unique photos.

I started shooting the Canon 1D X MK II in Shutter Priority mode at 1/40 sec and got this American skater perfectly sharp. I like this image but didn't like the fact that his right skate is behind the barrier.

Same thing with this image where both skates are now hidden.

But then I started shooting in a position where I could get the skater in full motion and get their whole bodies in the frame.

And once I had some nice images in the camera, I decided to slow the shutter even more, going to 1/30 sec.

This is when I caught another favorite from these Winter Games. This skater was in the outer lane (away from the barrier) as I panned along with her. I held on as steady as I could and grabbed this frame. This is the wider shot...

...and this is the same shot cropped in a bit. Here is why I think this shot is a winner:

* The women's face is perfectly sharp
* There is great motion in her arms and legs
* Her entire body is in the frame
* She is wearing great colors to compliment the background
* She is right below the Olympic rings

This will definitely be in my top ten photos of this Olympics.

And of course, I kept panning and shooting, until the America skater came out and I switched to a safer mode (1/1000 sec) to make sure I got the shots of her skating.

I should mention that I chose my shooting position to be on the curve of the ice. I wanted this perspective for my shots.

After the American, I switched back to motion panning again. This shot shows you how much clean ice I had to work with.

I could pan as they entered the turn and as they rounded through and came out if the turn. Having the Canon 100-400mm lens allowed me to capture the skaters in all locations.

This was a rare capture as both skaters were neck and neck in the race and I was able to get both of them sharp at 1/30 sec.

I mostly fired the shutter when the skaters were near the Olympic rings or logos.

Normally I would wait until the skaters were past the coaches and officials, but after a while I thought I would try and motion pan through the people in the foreground for a different look. As you can imagine, if this were taken at 1/1000 sec, those people in the foreground would be really distracting.

I normally switch the my safe mode for the Americans, but for this skater I decided to take the risk. And the risk was worth the reward, getting a nice motion pan of her.

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JCusack said...

Holy moly , these are awesome, love when you are panning and the rings are blurred, looks awesome . The one you said was you favorite is off the charts , the body is tack and it looks like is arms and legs are like pin wheels , just spinning . Fabulous photo . Love the corner shots too , love the options and the leaning into the turn . What a great gift to start the day . Thank you . πŸ˜ŠπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ“ΈπŸ˜Š

Mike D. said...

Jeff great photos and explanation on the technical side of the image! I like this view and it makes the eye focus on the skater! Sorry to read about the sleeve issue and yes that would be stressful situation! Great Work!!

Janice said...

Jeff I visit a 2nd W W veteran. He really enjoys looking at your blog.We discussed your sleeve incident as well as many of the other incidents. We both love your behind the scenes stories.He also liked your panned photos of the skaters.I am amazed at how much you manage to pack in to each day.

Linda Allen said...

Awesome photos! I especially love the blur of the Olympic Rings and the photos where you can see the reflection in the ice. Keep up the good work and I can't wait for the next blog! Not only are you the best (and my favorite) photographer but you are an awesome writer! :-)

Ron Lane said...

Very nice Jeff. You have the panning technique on point. I only do it a few times a year and I never get that low on my shutter.