Damon Williams  


Hurdler by Damon Williams

June 2021 - Hurdler

About the Image(s)


Fuji X-T3
50-140mm lens
1/2000
f/2.8
ISO 640

some cropping, exposure, and sharpening in post.

A buddy of mine is the photographer for a local 2yr college, and will be moving. I'm training up to take his place, which is why I stood in the rain photographing runners for 12 hours about a month ago. I think there are some critical things:
Equipment - you need fast focus speeds, fast glass, and sensors that can tolerate HIGH ISO (I regularly shoot indoor sports as 10K or 12800). Large apertures also help create soft backgrounds, which help, because you really can't pick and choose what's behind the athlete.
Shutter speed - nobody wants blurry or fuzzy sports shots.
Positioning - you need to know where to stand in order to get the right angles, and this varies by sport.
Anticipation - knowing the sport, and so being able to anticipate the time and place of the shot is key.

I like this shot because of the dynamic pose of the athlete, and the very determined look on his face. I have a version of this which has more space to the right of the frame (living space) but my buddy has been beating me up about cropping more tightly on the subject, so I thought I would do so here.
D


13 comments posted




Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Everything well done on this shot, especially the athlete's face.
It sounds like you are in control of everything, based on your very thorough discussion. I might add a couple of thoughts:
1. Sometimes, sometimes, you might try panning at a lower shutter speed from the side to get a runner sharp and the background blurred, to convey a sense of motion. This requires a lot of practice. Many people in these Digital Dialogs try that, with mixed results.
2. If a runner is coming straight at you, there is relatively little motion blur compared to shooting from the side. You did that in this case, so 1/2000 was not necessary. In fact, if you had shot at maybe 1/250, you probably still would have the face sharp, but a foot or hand a little blurred, again conveying a sense of motion, should you want to try that.   Posted: 06/04/2021 15:57:54
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
You're right on all Stephen. I like panning and do use it on occasion. It takes experimentation with shutter speed, (I find that there are orders of magnitude; running, driving, flying) but it can really convey that sense of motion. In this particular case though (and in the case of most athletics), the customer just isn't looking for that. In the same way that they're not looking for the balance that living space would provide for the image. In my limited experience, they want crisp, dynamic, and up-close depictions of athletic prowess ("the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat"). Art is not an issue.

Re: your point about subjects approaching versus subjects passing, IMHO, there are challenges in both cases, which I've had to take into account. Subjects approaching make the most demands on your auto focus system. I've had more than once occasion when a basketball player charging down the court will be in focus for 4 photos, but photos 5 and 6 are not. I think this is probably because the closer the subject is to you, the greater percentage of that distance they cover in a single stride or frame. This is exacerbated by the small f stops demanded by indoor photography, which gives unforgiving depths of field.

On the other hand, a subject moving perpendicular to the axis of the lens is moving along your DoF, and demands less of your autofocus therefore, giving you a better chance of keeping them in crisp focus. I think this works REALLY well for photographing vehicles, especially if you can keep yourself inside the radius of the turn, which gives you a super opportunity to create panning shots.

Anyway, those are just my observations. I think panning is a useful tool, and I like to think of it as leading the target, as one would with a rifle. It takes practice.   Posted: 06/04/2021 19:22:30
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Damon, thanks for the tip about the basketball player who covers a greater percentage of the distance to you as they near you. That is perfect math. I have always thought of getting a single shot at a preplanned location, so I have learned from you about the dynamics of repeated fast shooting.   Posted: 06/04/2021 20:25:19



Richard Story   Richard Story
DAMON

ONE OF YOUR BEST YET.

YOU NAILED THE EXPRESSION OF THE RUNNERS CONCENTRATION,AND FOCUS. YES AS STEPHEN MENTIONED A SLOWER SHUTTER SPEED WOULD OF CONVEYED MOTION BUT THE FACE OVER POWER EVEN THAT.

WELL DONE...

AS A SIDE TO NOTE FOR ALL....THIS ISN'T JUST AN IMAGE, ITS A STORY...AND DAMON HAS PRESENTED IT WELL BY HIS DISCRIPTION OF WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH, AND WHY HE WAS DOING IT.
MOST OF US DON'T SAY ANY THING ABOUT OUR IMAGES, OTHER THAT SETTING, REALLY WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH, WHY ARE WE DOING IT, ALONG WITH HOW WE DID IT.

REMEMBER THIS IS A DISCUSSON GROUP, AND THANK YOU DAMON FOR YOUR DISCUSSIONS

  Posted: 06/04/2021 18:48:10
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
That's high praise Richard. Thanks.   Posted: 06/04/2021 19:23:47



Jane Pittenger   Jane Pittenger
Talk about in your face!!!Well done and I'm so glad you spoke to what you were wanting to accomplish. You will be a great replacement for your friend. His face keeps drawing me back into the story and the photo is filled with emotion. Good use of dof with background identifiable but not distracting and the shutter speed is perfect to capture the action without blurring. re the crop...I do think the knee on right is just a tad tight. How about making the space between knee and edge of frame the same as between his right hand and frame? He still would be the main attraction but it wouldn't draw the eye out of the right side of the frame?   Posted: 06/07/2021 13:25:48
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
This sparks a very very interesting discussion re: cropping. So, I'm including the original image, and my favorite crop. So, in my very first go, I actually included the runner on the right edge of the frame, becasue I thought it gave context, but because the other runner is chopped off and blurry, he doesn't detract from the subject. I use this technique frequently, but I seem to be the only human alive who appreciates it.

So, I then went to my favorite crop, which has living space, but I then had to contend with the hurdle to the right, and the words "PUGET SOUND" resulting in distraction at the edge of the frame.

So the question becomes, if you're going to crop tightly, how tightly can you do it. In this case, what drove the train for me, is that I didn't want the word PUGET included, unless I could include all of it, and I didn't want that lone fence post standing between the runner and the edge of the frame, which I didn't like the look of at all.

The decision about what to include, and what to exclude often turns into a much more challenging process than I would have thought, at first glance.   Posted: 06/07/2021 15:44:53
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
This sparks a very very interesting discussion re: cropping. So, I'm including the original image, and my favorite crop. So, in my very first go, I actually included the runner on the right edge of the frame, becasue I thought it gave context, but because the other runner is chopped off and blurry, he doesn't detract from the subject. I use this technique frequently, but I seem to be the only human alive who appreciates it.

So, I then went to my favorite crop, which has living space, but IMHO   Posted: 06/07/2021 15:48:47
Comment Image
Jane Pittenger   Jane Pittenger
Another option. I cut and pasted the "Puget" from a copy and cropped tight but not quite so tight.
I do like this version of yours better than the one you originally posted   Posted: 06/07/2021 16:17:36
Comment Image
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
I like the looser crop with living space better too, but (I am learning) the sports guys want it tight. Different styles I guess.   Posted: 06/07/2021 18:48:07



Damon Williams   Damon Williams
  Posted: 06/07/2021 15:47:37
Comment Image



John Meiers   John Meiers
Great shot! I like the crop in the main photo. Usually at tracks there is too much background clutter. Windows etc in the background. I also find in this photo there is no need for some blur to suggest motion. The runner is off the ground and clearing a hurdle. Not something a hurdler can pose for. Some motion blur does not detract from the photo either. Nice clear focus. This picture works for me.   Posted: 06/10/2021 22:56:11
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
Thanks John. I think you're right about motion blur not being necessary. In the course of the last couple of months, I've improved my eye at picking out those "dynamic" images and poses that convey motion, even in a crisply frozen image. That's what my mentor (college athletics photographer), was looking for. Truth be told, I think it's easier too. Effectively tracking just a portion of the body (eyes most likely) and ensuring that is in tight focus while allowing other body parts to blur due to speed, would be a lot tough than just freezing everything, and letting me sort it out later. Anyway, just my thoughts...   Posted: 06/11/2021 10:32:51



 

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