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Archive 2013 · first attempt at Gymnastics
  
 
clarence3
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · first attempt at Gymnastics


The local HS basketball teams were away last night, but I saw Gymnastics on the schedule, so I thought I'd try something completely new.

I now have a new "most challenging sport to photograph", overtaking the spot previously held by VB. And I have an even greater appreciation for the quality gymnastics pictures that Russ has posted over the years.

Gym lighting, crowded floor, fast/unpredictable action, limbs flying everywhere, pads, equipment, judges, coaches, blocking the view. Backsides. All while trying to keep the girls' expressions and positions as photogenic as possible. Whew.

Keeper rate was miserable. I took 1000 shots. Ended up with 413 keepers and a gallery of 271 that I considered sellable.

5D3, 1D4, 200/1.8L, and 85/1.8

Girls from six schools. Five events. So I had a hard time picking the ones to post here. After making my picks, it seems I heavily favor the upside-down poses. But that's one of the main critiques I'm looking for... what makes a good gymnastics image, which ones are just run of the mill, and what sells, what doesn't?

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Jan 04, 2013 at 07:43 PM
clarence3
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · first attempt at Gymnastics


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Jan 04, 2013 at 07:43 PM
clarence3
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · first attempt at Gymnastics


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23. Thanks for looking








Jan 04, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · first attempt at Gymnastics


Clarence: Good to see your gymnastics images! I can't speak to the question of what sells at this level. I would imagine that anything with a face has potential, and I wouldn't expect girls (and their families) at this level to be as concerned with perfect form as is the case with NCAA athletes--they don't want to see anything that shows even the slightest break in form. Looks like a challenging environment you're dealing with here, and I always have maintained that the higher the level of performance, the easier the job of the photographer, so that's another relative challenge you are facing with these athletes. (So with #s 5 and 18 for example, I'm inclined to say you missed the peak of her jump, but I recognize it's possible this IS the peak of her jump!)

Personally, it's the rare image missing body parts that I would consider a high-level keeper. But with a shot like your #1, I can see why parents would be interested in buying this image, so we really have two different sets of criteria if we consider "what will sell?" and "what's a strong gymnastics image?" Working from the latter set of criteria (as they live in my mind), I see #4 as a strong image apart from the cut toes (and I'd go with a 2x3 aspect ratio, but I assume your crops are for sale purposes); I kinda like #8 but the missing leg and the fact your focus isn't nailed to her face leave me wondering about this one; #11 probably is a very strong shot for this level; #13 is your strongest image in my book (great form, good timing, again with a preference for a slightly more narrow crop); 14, 15, 19 and 22 (with the last two cropped much tighter to the athlete) are good. I'm less fond of #7 (facial expression doesn't work), 9 (nothing about this one speaks to me), 10 (really awkward an un-flattering), 16 and 23 (not enough of the athlete) and 20, which may be just fine for this level, but for me seems to capture an awkward, relatively un-athletic moment in the routine. (I guess any images not mentioned fall somewhere in between .)

You definitely are right about this being a challenging sport to photograph, with the challenges differing by level, as already mentioned. In my case, I have these phenomenal athletes to work with and the pressure to catch them at their absolute best and most stunning. Obviously your challenges here are quite different, and I hope you'll shoot more so that we can follow your progress. Thanks for posting.

Edited on Jan 04, 2013 at 08:49 PM · View previous versions



Jan 04, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Dave17
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · first attempt at Gymnastics


Couldn't agree with you more. Hard sport to shoot and Russ's shots are fantastic. Yours are way better than my attempts.
Love #13 the best.
--Dave



Jan 04, 2013 at 08:49 PM
danmc
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · first attempt at Gymnastics


Have to ask - - 6 schools and 5 events, what are the five events?


Jan 04, 2013 at 10:43 PM
clarence3
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · first attempt at Gymnastics


Thanks guys. Russ, I always learn a lot from your critiques.

danmc wrote:
Have to ask - - 6 schools and 5 events, what are the five events?


I'm not a gymnastics person (but I did go to gymnastics at the 1996 Olympics with my wife), so this is just my best guess at what the 4 events were (I thought there were 5, but upon further thought, it seems there were only 4):

- balance beam
- floor exercise
- uneven bars
- then run down a long pad and do a handstand flip over some padded table (pictures 1,2,4)



Jan 04, 2013 at 11:12 PM
dweverett
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · first attempt at Gymnastics


You have some really good images. I'm coming at this from the perspective of a parent not a professional shooter.

At least around here folks generally shoot only beam and floor so the images you shot on vault or bars would sell well because it's something that the parents don't already have. 13 in particular is a great image.

To Russ' point on chopping off body parts, in general even for the parents that's not going to be a good thing but some of the very close crops would sell well I think given how they show the gymnasts face as well as, again, they are different than what I normally see. I would put number 1 and 8 in that category. The first one in particular I like. They feel less about missing a body part than being very focused on the face. On the other hand, a shot like 9 I don't like. It's too strange a crop to lose a single leg like that.

I'd be curious as to the pro's view of whether a shot like 3 sells. It's a great capture of the intensity of the gymnast's focus on the move. That said, my daughter would hate it and complain like crazy if I bought it becuase she would hate the expression. I've managed to capture her several times coming out of a front tuck on floor and it's never a shot that never makes it into my wife's scrapbooks.

Overall nice shots though
Bill



Jan 05, 2013 at 01:45 AM
 

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Carl Auer
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · first attempt at Gymnastics


some padded table = vault

Mens is Floor, rings, parallel bars and high bar and pommel horse



Jan 05, 2013 at 03:30 AM
P Alesse
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · first attempt at Gymnastics


For the most part, you can get away with capturing peek action dependent on the level of the gymnast providing its the best form that the particular gymnast can offer. However, unless its a static move you should NOT be cutting limbs. Unlike the typical mantra... Shoot tight tight tight, you need to approach gymnastics overly conservative and shoot as loose as you can get away with, without chopping parts. Parents put more credence in head to toe and less credence on what we as photographers are more concerned with... Such as noise, backgrounds, etc. Don't be a creative shooter at this level. Be a dutiful shooter. Get the most sellable full body shots as you can without sitting on the shutter.

Hope this helps. You will get better with practice.



Jan 05, 2013 at 02:23 PM
clarence3
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · first attempt at Gymnastics


P Alesse wrote:
you need to approach gymnastics overly conservative and shoot as loose as you can get away with, without chopping parts


Thanks Paul. Focal length selection was another challenge for me. After I swapped lenses a few times (200 on the 1D3 to maximize reach, 85 on the 5D3 to maximize width), I finally realized, especially on the floor routine, that it was very similar to soccer... when shooting with a prime, if you're not going to be constantly running around to zoom with your feet, pick your spot and capture within the reach zone of the lens.

I do think the other events will be easier to position myself for proper composition. Is balance beam best when their feet are off the beam? I have several when the girls are about to lose their balance, but I figured that's not the peak action they want to be remembered.

The floor routine was tough because a lot of the still shots look like simple cartwheels and somersaults look like a grade school "tumbling" class when you take away the speed and sequencing .



Jan 05, 2013 at 02:56 PM
rddayton
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · first attempt at Gymnastics


Having never shot gymnastics, I am no help in that regard. I do want to say that I am always impressed with the technical aspects of your shooting. Regardelss of venue, light, etc, you always have such great sharp well-balanced pictures with beautiful color. Kudos on being so consistent.


Jan 05, 2013 at 05:35 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · first attempt at Gymnastics


You still want to get that tumbling whenever possible. Parents want those too however basic it seems. Side to side or tumbling coming towards you is best. Look for face though. Never shoot tumbling going away from you. No shots to be had


Jan 05, 2013 at 07:16 PM
lhryshko
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · first attempt at Gymnastics


clarence3 wrote:
... what makes a good gymnastics image....?


Nansy.



Jan 07, 2013 at 05:32 AM
CW100
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · first attempt at Gymnastics


first attempt looks good!


Jan 07, 2013 at 12:14 PM





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