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Author Topic: Whitewater kayaking sequence  (Read 1120 times)

mnmwyo

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Whitewater kayaking sequence
« on: September 10, 2013, 01:43:10 AM »
This is my first post here.  I recently took some pictures at a local whitewater kayak slalom race.  I am posting a series of 4 shots with two ideas in mind.  I am hoping that each photo can stand on its own and that in a series, they can tell a story.  I would appreciate feedback on these two points.

The story is the athlete negotiating a slalom gate during a whitewater race.  The boater approaches the gate as he paddles across the current as it pushes him downstream.  He must then paddle upstream through the gate then turn and move downstream to the next gate.


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Whitewater kayaking sequence
« on: September 10, 2013, 01:43:10 AM »

paul13walnut5

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Re: Whitewater kayaking sequence
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 03:01:43 AM »
IMHO only the pic (numbered 5) is anywhere close to being able to present.

Sports: IMHO you want to see the face, clearly, you also want to see the equipment, in your sequence you only really see the canoe I'm one shot, and your rower is facing the wrong way.

Poise: excitement, control, focused mind, skill, adrenaline, mastery, power, not present here, the guy looks totally overwhelmed.

I think for these shots to have worked better you would need to have been more elevated looking down, maybe that way see more of the craft and the shape of the course.  Maybe there was a more photo friendly point somewhere else along the course, if it absolutely had to be at this point then maybe position your self so you were face on as he exits the turn and down course.

The key to good sporting shots IMHO is to arrive early, walk the course during warm ups, have a map, and just work out what's going to give you a good clear shot (the face is all important) at a point of action.

I know that because of the terrain, cordons safety etc this chosen sport it more restrictive than most.

Can I ask, did you have a press pass or were you in a stand etc?

I just feel although there is plenty of action, there isn't great composition, or dynamism, there is no empathy or connection to the rower because you don't get to see his eyes clearly. 

Focus, check, exposure, check, drama, check, just another couple of things to work on, if you are going to present then yours need to be as good as at least, if not substantially better than anybody else's.

I've tried to be fair and give honest constructive advice, if asked for an opinion, that's what I'll always do.  I look forward to seeing what you get from the next event.

paul13walnut5

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Re: Whitewater kayaking sequence
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 03:27:35 AM »
Just considering in greater depth the dual objectives...

I think as a sequence it does tell a story, when it comes to sport stills i tend to think of what I would see in sports pages, a single decisive shot, and on that point I stand by my previous critique.

But as a sequence, say in a strip along the bottom of a magazine spread or promotional leaflet, these could work, more about the spirit of the sport than one very string image to sell it.

What I would say is that if you shoot for the first on burst then you would probably be able to get both.

For a sequence shot, use a tripod or monopod, try and keep the framing and cropping consistent, rocks in same place etc.  the poles are pivotal too so try and keep them in.


And remiss of me, welcome to the forum.


« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 04:40:33 AM by paul13walnut5 »

mnmwyo

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Re: Whitewater kayaking sequence
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 03:50:16 AM »
Thank you for your detailed comments.  Much appreciated.  There are so many things you pointed out that I did not even think about. I picked my location based on keeping the kayakers front-lit and being low on the river bank.  This was a small local event so no press pass was needed.

I can see how important it is to capture the eyes and face of the athlete in order to connect with the scene.
One thing I found interesting about your impression of the athlete pictured was that he seemed to be struggling.  The athlete pictured is a friend of mine and I have kayaked with him many times.  He went through the race with ease and control and won the event.  That said, I can see your point of view as an observer having only the photos to define your impression. 

I hand held my camera for these shots.  I can see that for a sequence it would have been better to have a fixed point of view such as a monopod for some constant frame of reference.  Also, I did not shoot in burst mode but rather snapped individual shots at what I thought were good moments.  I am sure I missed more than I captured.

I did not do enough scouting before setting up my position.  In retrospect, based on your comments, I think I would have been able to see more of the boat and a better perspective of negotiating the gate by moving upstream to a point  on the bank opposite the boater.  The sun would still have been at my back for great lighting of the subject.

I put up a few more shots with this post trying to get more of the emotion you describe.

The first shot catches Nathan doing a high brace with his paddle to turn his boat quickly downstream to the next gate.  His eyes are open and his face shows his intense focus on the moment.  Unfortunately, the focus is soft.

Picture two shows Destin making the same turn.  His boat is visible but the action isn't as strong in this one I don't think.

The third pictures shows Destin digging hard with his stroke.  His face is expressing the effort.  I wish I had caught this a split second earlier when his paddle was more vertical as he started his stroke.  Again, shooting in burst mode as you suggest would have helped.

One thing I didn't mention about these photos is that I was shooting with a 70-200 f2.8 L II lens on a 5D mark II body.  I really like how the lens performed.  I was shooting at 200mm, f6.3 and 1/500 sec.

paul13walnut5

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Re: Whitewater kayaking sequence
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 04:29:17 AM »
Middle pic is exactly what I meant earlier, these are much more like the thing.

If you know you are focusing around a set area, i.e. the rowers have to navigate the pole, then you could try pre-focusing and using a smaller aperture, to let the depth of field keep a zone of focus sharp rather than your camera having to try and keep up.  With shutters of 1/500th you have a little lew-way of aperture to play with, maybe f8 at 1/250th?

Also, you have 21MP to play with, plenty of scope for cropping, the lens could be set to 135mm for example and only crop where you need to.

The 5D2 isn't the best camera for sports, so prefocusing might be the answer here to keep your frame rate as high as you can.

Don Haines

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Re: Whitewater kayaking sequence
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2013, 11:53:52 AM »
The second set of pictures are much better than the first set...

BTW... for focusing, when most people look at a picture with a face in it, they seem to be drawn to the eyes to check for focus... makes things a lot harder when you want to also get the water being splashed up in focus too :)
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Re: Whitewater kayaking sequence
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2013, 11:53:52 AM »