Jespo day 1: sailing and olympic games

Created Tue 5 Oct 10 8:05 by Mithandir in category The Freeware Photographer Blog

Whew... it's been almost a week since my first shoots and still no write-up. Shame on me!

I don't know whether I'm allowed to post any of the pictures here, so this write-up is without any. Sorry.

The first day of shooting for my jespo sports project was last wednesday and was supposed to be a triple: first a combination of sailing and windsurfing, followed by a sport called "olympic games" (basically an introduction for several different sports). I say supposed, because none of the kids showed up for the windsurfing. The instructors blamed a lack of wind (apparently these kids were experienced enough to know when to simply stay home) and a bus strike. The sailors, however, were unperturbed and took to the lake in their little boats.

For this shoot I had a new toy, bought the day before: a ZD50-200 lens. I had been planning to get this lens for quite a while now and it had been on my wishlist for several years. Now with two of my lenses out of action (sent in for repairs) I was forced to buy this lens a bit earlier than originally planned. That said, I'm glad I did because it proved the perfect lens for this day.
Apart from the shiny new ZD50-200 lens, I had my E-3 (fresh from repairs itself), the ZD9-18, the ZD50 (for portraits) and the E-510 kitlens ZD14-42. The latter only because my 14-54 was one of the lenses in repair.


For the sailing the instructors took me along in their motorized dinghy allowing me to stay close to the boats. This was a good thing because while the ZD50-200 is a great lens, they were sailing on a pretty great lake. During the shoot I tried to stick to the new lens as much as possible, only switching to the 9-18 a few times when we got really close to the sailing boats. Switching lenses in a rubber dinghy is a bit precarious, especially since I didn't yet have a good place to put the new lens while not in use.

This last bit deserves a bit of expansion. My standard camera bag is a front-carried waistbag. It's a pretty big one, in itself large enough to hold the E3 and a couple of (smaller) lenses. It's expanded on both sides by cylindrical lens holders for my bigger lenses. The upside of this is that I always have my gear in easy reach in front of me. For the new lens, however, I didn't have a side bag yet (the one for the 135-400 was too narrow because of the oversize lens hood of the 50-200) forcing me to use the standard lens bag that came with the lens, slung over my shoulder. This was all fine ... until I sat down in the dinghy and that extra bag proved most unstable. These kind of concerns may seem trivial, but I think it's important to have everything worked out beforehand so that during the shoot you don't lose time, focus and shots with mere practicalities,

Back to the shooting. Sailboats are very vertical things, especially when the sail is at an angle. I found myself using portrait orientation most of the time, even when I had multiple boats in the picture. The verticalness comes from two things: first, the masts and sails obviously leap way above the boat, and secondly the reflection of the boat in the water adds some depth below it.
While shooting I always tried to get as much of the reflection in as possible, but I found that in post I cropped most of it away again in favour of getting a better composition.

The weather was gray and uninteresting which resulted in low contrast shots. Not much you can do about weather, except do the best with what you got. At least there was heaps of light shining through the clouds.

I experimented a bit with taking some shots from right above the water level. Easy thanks to the E-3's liveview and articulating screen and not too scary thanks to its weather sealing.

Olympic games

The olympic games were held on the other side of the lake, in a city sporting hall. When I got in it looked bright enough, but a quick test with the camera showed me that my eyes were deceiving me: there was very little light indeed. In fact even at ISO1600 (a setting I'm loathe to use) and with the relatively bright ZD50-200 I could not get shutter speeds faster than 1/80s, which is borderline at best to take pictures of young kids running around.
I stayed on the side lines because I hadn't brought appropriate shoes (preparation again) which strongly limited my perspective. Still, I did my best and got a heap of shots in. These will need quite a bit of work in PP to remove at least some of the noise, and even then I won't be able to remove the motion blur. Luckily these pictures will not be printed at huge sizes.
For future indoor shoots I will just have to use a flash, possibly with a couple of reflectors.

For this shoot I needed to use C-AF, and I'm going to need a lot more practice at that. I used a trick I found somewhere on a forum to get better results, but even then I often missed focus entirely (not to mention that I forgot I was using the trick a couple of times).


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