A Sports Showcase

Monday evening of the 24th April saw an entertaining evening presented by freelance sports photographer Steve Bond. He is very successful with his work regularly appearing in national tabloids and broadsheets as well as magazines, club literature and stock libraries. Steve started by explaining that the evening was not a travelogue-type talk, but more an exposition of how to approach the work.

For the first half of the evening he concentrated on cricket, although many of the approaches, techniques, techniques and problems could be applied to other sports. His kit for this work was simply a Canon 1dx on aperture priority and continuous shooting, a 400mm lens on 2.8 for shallow depth of field and a monopod. He shoots in  JPEG as it speeds up the shooting and he doesn’t have the time to do anything with the shots before they are transmitted to the agencies. To get the best out of a match then research is needed (layout of the ground, position of the sun, likely location of other photographers, where the action is likely to be, what may be in the background, etc.). Steve told us that one of the main skills was anticipation. Often you need to be hitting the shutter button before you think you need to. The action is often fast and you are trying to catch a fleeting moment which is likely to have gone before the shutter has fired if you wait too long. Knowing the sport and the habits of players helps a lot. With batting he usually catches the follow-through as it makes a much more elegant shape although with bowling it may be all about catching the energy. Newspapers seem to love shots of celebrations at the moment so he wants to be in the right position to capture them. As you never know which stroke or bowl may bring a result he shoots every one. On a single day at a test match he may shoot 2000 images but only sends about 100 to the agency. All through this Steve went through a slideshow of wonderful dramatic images which many of us had seen in the newspapers, capturing that that memorable moment.

In the second half Steve started with with a section on wildlife photography. This is something personal for him rather than professional, but it uses the same kit and techniques to get the shots. Sometimes he will consider the commercial side by leaving plenty of empty space for text which could then be used by magazines or other publications. It helps that he currently likes keeping the main subject small in the frame and showing the environment the bird or animal exists in. Like with the sports photography he does very little manipulation above a little cropping. The images showed the same very high standards and were a stark contrast to the action-filled shots of sport.

The final section of the evening was on his football work. Here, he said, the situation for photographers had changed considerably with little opportunity for ordinary photographers to get a pass or sometimes be allowed to take photographs. For most professional games you would need to work for an agency to get a pass. The ground rules for football are the same as for cricket in terms of research, position, categories of shot, kit etc. However there is more likelihood of floodlights being involved and these can cause real problems with vast differences in the amount and quality of light as you track action. Once again Steve’s work told a story of speed, emotion and action in every image displayed. A short set of images on rugby completed the evening.

It was a fascinating evening with photography of the highest order. Throughout Steve’s dry, laconic humour kept the audience engaged and during the evening he answered many questions posed by the audience. It was a fascinating insight into a different branch of photography with real practical help on trying it out. He urged everyone to give it a go with their local cricket club or football team and after this evening everyone had the tools to do the job.

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