Friday, December 22, 2006

The Sports Series: Introduction


A collage of some of the sports I've photographed so far.

Sports photography is an interesting challenge. Like sports itself, quick action and reaction plus good timing is key to a succesful shoot. Fortunately for the photographer, athletic capability is not a necessary requirement. Although an exception is when you intend to, say, follow a mountain climber throughout his ascent to the summit, then you'll need to have some skills and strength of a mountain climber too. But what's more interesting is you get to capture human emotions as it happens - the excitement of action, the struggles of the human body, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

By observation, I've noticed that very few people shoot sports in this group. However, I've realized that, that is not due to lack of interest because I know that Andrew (Boso) regularly shoots karate tournaments. I also remember selecting one of Rey Nocum's billiard shots for this blog's Photo of the Week feature. I also remember Pat (Hocchuan) and Perry (PowerPee) shooting some bowling game. And then there's the considerable number of members who signed up for the Live Extreme event photoshoot earlier this year (Sorry guys, I can't find a link to photos of this event). Is it lack of opportunity? Maybe. Although there's a regular PBA or UAAP basketball tournaments yearly to shoot that all you need to do is buy a ring side ticket if you don't have a press pass, perhaps cameras are not allowed for spectators. I don't really know because I'm not based in the Philippines for about 10 years now. 'Barkada' basketball games? Perhaps not a very inspiring event to shoot.

It's different in my case. Shooting sports here in Doha, Qatar basically doesn't cost me anything. Lots of international sporting events happen here throughout the year, from superbikes to superboat races, from football to basketball to ATP and WTA tennis tours. The best thing is that tickets are free most of the time and cameras, whatever kind, is allowed. Okay, I had to pay from 5 to 10 riyals per sporting event during the 15th Asian Games but that's peanuts! A movie ticket costs 3 times more. The most I have paid to watch and shoot sports was 200 riyals for two tickets to the MotoGP.

I think that there are many here would love to shoot sports given the right opportunity. Over the years of shooting from the spectators stand, I've accumulated some knowledge and experience in this field. I'm not claiming any expertise but by sharing them, I hope to inspire a few to venture into this field and hopefully, develop further from there.

While the basics of sports photography applies to almost any sports, every sport is different and therefore different techniques and strategies are adapted. For this reason, I will make this topic into a series of articles providing insights on the various sports I have already photographed. Some of them are succesful shoots, some are not so succesful and then there are a few that turned out to be frustrating for me.

Listed below are some of the sporting events I've managed to shoot so far:

1. Class 1 Powerboat Race
2. Formula 1 Powerboat Race
3. MotoGP
4. Pro-Tennis
5. Beach Volleyball
6. Swimming
7. Body Building
8. Greco-Roman Wrestling
9. Cycling
10. Wushu
11. Athletics

This is just the introduction. In the first part, we will discuss some of the basic pointers. Let me just clarify right here from the start that this series is not a tutorial or a set of lessons. I'm not a teacher - 'just your average Joe sharing some of his personal experience.

To those who might find this series interesting, welcome to The Sports Series.



ed's said...

Thanks for sharing Alex! I dream to shoot Formula 1 someday =)

Anonymous said...

nabitin ako hahaha.. This are the 4 that i'm interested in that you listed. hehe..

1. Pro-Tennis
2. Beach Volleyball
3. Swimming
4. Wushu
5. Athletics

Basketball and Indoor Volleyball is a choice to. Can't wait for the next articles. :D

alexdpx said...

Thanks guys!! Pat, I'm afraid I don't have basketball and indoor volleyball shots.

andrew said...

thanks for sharing, talagang mahirap kumuha ng sports dito sa Pinas. Pangit na lighting, hirap pa kumuha ng Press Pass. Kaya yung may mga gusto kumuha ng sports eh practice muna sila sa mga baranggay sports. hehe

Anonymous said...

Robert said:

"...the excitement of action, the struggles of the human body, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."
These are basically the reasons why I would prefer to shoot sports than, say, a fashion event, given the opportunity :D

"I think that there are many here would love to shoot sports given the right opportunity."
One basic and significant hurdle is financial. Sports photography requires that you invest on:
1 - A telephoto lens with max reach of at least 300mm for that tight shot of a gritty action.
2 - A camera with at least 5 frames per sec burst. 3 sec could not probably coup fast enough with the action.
Take my case, I probably will not shoot much sports until I have an L lens :D

Another hurdle is the traffic and crowd. If you don't have press pass, you just can't elbow your way through these.

Kuya Andrew is right too in stating the low light problem. For example, I shot the company basketball tournament at a gym with overhead lights, but they were not lit :D

And the least hurdle, is the sports events board where we can look at the events and their venues.