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Guy: Thanks for your comments. If I understand your description, this shot was envisioned some years back by a good friend with a golden eye--you might know him as Tom D. Tom shared this vision with me and I was able to capture the shot on this particular athlete's last routine of the season. I've posted it below. You can tell me if this is what you had in mind.
John: You're right about this very high level of the sport offering unique opportunities for good photos, and even then, there are so many obstacles, as the horrible backgrounds in most of my shots here will attest to. Regarding tracking, I used Case 2 and I thought it worked pretty well. (For everything else I've shot, mostly football and basketball, I'd been using Case 4). But the greatest feature of all with this camera, as far as I'm concerned, is the visible active focus points while shooting. I'm selecting my point and also activating all surrounding points. Being able to see all of these points is like having one big honking focus point to work with, and that's a tremendous help. When I was switching back and forth between cameras while shooting floor, every time I picked up the 1DIV and had to rely on the single lit focus point, I felt like I was at a serious disadvantage.
Thanks, Tareq. Glad to hear you're rejuvenated.
amlsml: Thank you. It doesn't get much better than what these athletes have to offer. The challenge is to find the best way to shoot them, and on this night, a number of factors led to my making some poor choices in this area. I had thought about skipping this season preview, but I'm real glad I didn't because it will allow me to figure some things out.
Geoffrey: Thanks, man. I'm looking forward to it as well!
Kevin: Your question led me to look more closely at #10 and it looks like her hands are the sharpest part of her, which doesn't quite work, does it. Oh well, the background already killed that shot, so I can't be too disappointed, but I still at impressed at the tracking involved. Thanks for your feedback.
Here's the image from several years back. I was talking to a young photographer last night who has been shooting gymnastics for three years now. He was talking about how amazed he is when he looks back to his earlier work and compares it to what he's capable of now. Great improvement. He asked if I had the same experience, and I said yes, but, I also look back and occasionally I find some images that I not only would be proud of today, but that lead me to feel that maybe I'm not heading in the right direction. This is one of those shots. (Maybe I just need to spend more time inside Tom's head!)