Monday 23 March 2009

Sporting event photography is blooming hard work!

Punch, originally uploaded by electrolyte2006.

As I blogged yesterday on Saturday I was the official photographer for a karate competition. And it was blooming hard work. 3.5 hours non-stop shooting, I ended up with 774 photos. I was knackered once I'd finished!

It was a kata competition so no fighting involved, each competitor just had to produce a series of moves and were marked out of 10 on how well they had done.

I've never done anything like this before and it was a challenge. Firstly the lighting was awful - no natural light at all and in a large sports hall too so it was very flat. I decided to use f/2.8 on my 50mm f/1.8 to try to separate the competitors but had to use 800 ISO to get a shutter speed of 1/100. So noisy images were the order of the day. And the shutter speed wasn't fast enough to completely freeze the action. I also soon realised that my Canon 350D and 50mm f/1.8 combination was probably too slow for action shots and I really needed a body with better high ISO performance. But I could only use what I had.

I also only have 2 1GB CF cards which only hold 120ish RAW files each. So I had to download images from card 1 to my laptop while using card 2. This proved to be a major hassle and stress even though I had use of my 8 year old son as an assistant - but only while he wasn't competing. I have even more respect for the pro togs who do this at football and rugby matches and also manage to upload photos on the fly to their agencies. Not sure I could do that really.

Overall I enjoyed covering the event as it was something new but I must admit I was pleased when it ended. But it was a success as I managed to get at least one good photo of every single competitor and at 3 good ones for most of them.

It was also a shame that the event was kata only and no fighting happened - there is much more scope for interesting action shots in a fight. Luckily the next event that Steve is planning is a sparring competition so hopefully I'll cover that one too. Watch this space.


  1. I think you did well and got soem nice stuff all things considered. It does open your eyes to covering sport however and makes you realise how hard and how good photographers are. Looking forward to seeing your next batch at some point.

  2. Thanks Pete. I have even more respect for the quality of photos you used to take when you did rugby stuff - they were fantastic and considering you were taking them under much more pressure than I was under makes them seem even better to me now.