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Archive 2013 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver
  
 
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p.1 #1 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


Hello, this is my first post. I've been reading the forum for a while and have appreciated the comments and posts of others so I thought I'd attempt to contribute. I started into photography, interested in sports mostly, with a D600 in December.

At this meet, I first shot bars and a little bit of vault (no keepers frankly), with an 85 f/1.8g (I used f/2, 1/640, ISO4000), and then switched to beam & floor with a 70-200 f/2.8 II (f/2.8, 1/500, ISO6400). The lighting at Air Force is bad (relative I realize), ISO6400 to barely get 1/500 @ f/2.8 with the 70-200, a little better with the 85 as I think its transmission might be higher.

I had wanted to try the 85 f/1.8g on beam in particular to both increase shutter speed and decrease DOF, but the dual meet format was such that both teams switched to beam/floor after vault/bars and thought I wanted the reach on floor. Next time, next year unfortunately, I think I would stay with the 85 f/1.8g and get to 1/640 or 1/800. I think the photos are still pretty good at ISO6400, but I've been hesitant to go higher. I do see motion blur at 1/500 (#2 and #4), especially with rotating elements and hands/feet, so I think I'll force myself to at least try 8000 or 10000 and see how much noise reduction to use in Lightroom.

I've been using auto WB, 9-pt dynamic area, and a value of 2 for custom setting a3 focus tracking sensitivity. I lost focus a few times with fast movement, so I'd like to try 21-pt and/or a3=3 but hard to say what combination would be best.

Cody

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Mar 15, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Focus Locus
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p.1 #2 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


The clarity and selective focus of your photos leaps positively off the screen at me right away. You've got that down.

Reading your explanation of your camera settings, lens selection, desired shutter speed, motion blur on hands and feet, apparatus to lens strategy, etc... demonstrates that you have the camera stuff down too.

Now, all you have left to do in selecting images is to demonstrate that you know the sport. The images and text above clearly demonstrate that you've got focus and exposure down, and the camera settings typical and optimal for shooting gymnastics down. What the images selected do not yet show, however, is enough knowlege of the sport. I'm not saying that you don't have that knowlege, I'm only saying that the images selected above do not best typify the moments that the gymnasts might like to see captured.

It could be that you shot the frames that the gymnasts want to see, but they didn't turn out as you had hoped. If you have other pictures that capture peak action, with eyes open, and where the gymnast is not awkwardly "in between" movement, then hunt through your take for those.

When I first started shooting gymnastics, I used to shoot the TV screen to practice timing. I also spent years shooting age level gymnastics from L3 to L10. When I first started shooting collegiate, I had a college team member sit at my shoulder and say "now" "now" "now" everytime she thought anticipated a good shot would come up for one of her team mates competing. I put pieced together an evolving theme out of all her "nows". In short, I tried very hard to learn the sport.

I still don't think I can take a picture as crisp and as clear as the images you posted up here in this thread. For that, your work is spot on! With more opportunities to shoot gymnastics, I think you will find more optimal moments in their routines to shoot and post.



Mar 15, 2013 at 06:22 PM
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p.1 #3 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


Focus Locus, thanks for your comments.

The five I posted above were some of the better photos in my opinion, I had a handful better and others worse. Many of the peak action shots did have a tiny bit of motion blur, or something in the background, that I wasn't fond of which I suppose is often the case. I'll post a few more below for fun that have a little more action.

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8. Why do the event staff wear bright yellow coats?






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10. Probably my favorite of all in terms of pose + clarity + background.







Mar 15, 2013 at 08:27 PM
lhryshko
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p.1 #4 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


The critique you received from Focus Locus is spot on but let me give you another way to easily analyze your shots from a gymnastics perspective.

In the pictures shown, which of the skills/moves/poses/positions could be easily conducted by an average person?

To me, those would be 1,2,3,4,5,8, 10 and possibly even 7.

Try to capture the moments that can only be conducted by those rare few who have paid dearly for their unique skills. To me at least, that's gymnastics............and that's what you want to be capturing most of the time.



Mar 16, 2013 at 11:23 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #5 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


lhryshko wrote:
The critique you received from Focus Locus is spot on but let me give you another way to easily analyze your shots from a gymnastics perspective.

In the pictures shown, which of the skills/moves/poses/positions could be easily conducted by an average person?

To me, those would be 1,2,3,4,5,8, 10 and possibly even 7.

Try to capture the moments that can only be conducted by those rare few who have paid dearly for their unique skills. To me at least, that's gymnastics............and that's what you want to be capturing most of the time.

That's not a bad rule of thumb. If I can do it, don't shoot it.



Mar 17, 2013 at 02:59 AM
 

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p.1 #6 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


Focus Locus and Larry—good critique, though I've always found gymnasts like a pic of a simple pose where they look nice, even if it's something I can do. (I was a gymnast, but I am old.) Even there, try to stay away from a head-on view ("I look fat").

That's quite a dark gym there, ugh. Good work considering. In the film days, it would have been nothing but pretty poses, and they'd better hold 'em!



Mar 17, 2013 at 03:00 AM
mdalby
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p.1 #7 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


P Alesse wrote:
That's not a bad rule of thumb. If I can do it, don't shoot it.


This has now been added to my sports shooting 101 rules

Rule #1: If I can do it, Don't shoot it.
Rule #2: Include in the shot FACT: Face, Action, Contact, Toy
Rule #3: If there is any doubt, refer to rule #1.



Mar 17, 2013 at 03:10 AM
Focus Locus
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p.1 #8 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


I like Paul's mantra... If I can do it, don't shoot it.

However, when it comes right down to it, there is so little that I can actually do, I might need a stricter ruling.

For example, I don't think I can just stand there and keep my balance with my feet apart and arms outstretched (cops didn't think so either on the side of the road the other night) like the gymnast in your favorite photo #10 is doing. But I can guarantee you she will not think that is a "pose". The camera just caught her in between things, in a transitory position in between movements.

On the other hand, image #8 is also somewhat transitory, yet it is more of what the gymnast will like. Unlike #10, the moment in #8 is harder to catch, because it happens quick and is in step with other movements. The transitory movement in#8 is more of a peak moment (or almost peak... her lifted foot might have been higher in either a sheep or arabesque type position at actual peak) She is in releve also (heel on the floor is raised with a high strong arch) which adds to the moment.

But must importantly, her face, head, arms and hands in #8 are making an artistic STATEMENT (the sport is called artistic gymnastics!)... and that is a good thing for the picture. That statement is appreciated better and longer in a still photograph than it ever can be in real life, because in real life it is fleeting, but in a still photography, it can linger for longer than any human being can reasonably hold it for.

Contrast the use of these same communicative elements of the human body in #8... with that found in image #10, where they are merely making a PREPARATORY transisiton, similar to the ballet preparation for a piroutte, a soutenu, or a chaines turn. The legs are staged in third position, the arms caught midair as they are balancing and winding to build momentum for her next move. This isn't a pose, it is a preparation. It is not a statment, nor is it the type of gymnast she sees herself as in her mind's eye.

I'm making a strong point about this, because it is fundemental in shooting the older kids (collegiate). They aren't cute level 4 anymore. They don't need pictures of themselves just standing there looking fat. Without any clear movement, without the "statement", without death defying pyrotechnic acrobatics, or without graceful to the point of ethereal lyricism in their poses to distract them, all they see of themselves is self consciously distorted thunder thighs, and they don't like that. Catch them doing something more than standing there.

I couldn't even stand there, so Pauls mantra isn't quite enough of a control for me!

You crank out damn good exposures and focus in that supposedly poor light, so I have no comments as far as the "photography" is concerned.

And the gymnsast in Image #6 would be proud of the action shot you took of her in a one arm grip change on bars. Great timing. Great face. Great pointed toes, feet together at 12 oclock noon. Now that's a textbook gymnastics shot right there!



(ps... for the archived record, I was just kidding about the cops. I don't drink. Just wanted to add a little drama to the point )



Mar 18, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Carl Auer
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p.1 #9 · Gymnastics: Air Force & Denver


Hi Cody,
I am glad you posted these...I may be coming down to the Springs in May to shoot the Warrior games. It looks like exposure was not bad, and you are cursed with cycling lights.

For the shots themselves, like everyone else has said, you are spot on with your exposure and it looks like you handled your gear pretty good. On the composition side, and I am not a gymnastics shooter, I would like to see a lower point of view. On the beam shots straight on, I would like to see you lower, with the camera level with the beam. Same with shots 4 and 5.

Overall, not bad.
I am sure the Warrior games will have some events in the gym and if my wire covers my hotel stay (so I do not have to drive 180 miles round trip every day), you have given me an idea of what to look forward to....



Mar 22, 2013 at 12:18 AM





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