I was shooting skating during this weekend. Finlandia Trophy, the opening of wintersports season for me. As I posted couple of images in the FB, I got into an argument – no, call it “fruitful exchange of ideas” – which I thought merits more discussion. Basically, my friend argued that the image I posted “did not portray they quality usually present in my sports imagery” – as I had e.g. cut away the fingers.
So briefly: I was concentrating on women and one skater particularly. Someone I have shot dozens of time. At this stage and age, it is a no-brainer to take a sharp, well lit image of a skater on ice. Get a bit elevated position to get rid of the ads on the sides, use a bit longer focal lenght, large enough aperture and fast shutter speed , make sure you do not amputate off any limbs but keep your cropping tight… and that’s about it. As I said: no-brainer. Done it dozens of times.
Thus:I would argue that I know the rules, I know exactly how it “should be done”...
But as I know them, I can break them. And the image below does just that.
So: not only did I amputate the legs, but also the fingers and half of the head. Also, it is not the image of “peak action” as it by default should be in sports.
But in my personal opinion, the image works: the composition based on the triangle formed by her body and direction of the gaze, amplified by the perceived, anticipated direction of her hands. Controlled DOF (400/2.8 wide open) with fast enough shutter speed which produces a razor sharp image – yet leaves some life into the hem of her dress. Shot close enough so that the background ads get totally blurry.
(Disclaimer: I might be wrong. You might think the image sucks. We are talking opinions here…)
My point: it takes lot of experience in shooting before you start doing images like that. Before you not only have the skill, but dare to do this.
And the most important point: you have to know the rules before you break them, otherwise you produce just crap.
To get it published (as this image was) might be even harder- as you might have some inexperienced twenty-something doing the layout – with the rule “skating images should have all the limbs intact” burned into his head from school or older colleagues…
I am lucky – no, I’m bloody spoiled… :-) – as e.g. on Sunday the person responsible for the layout did call me asking for an opinion on the use of my images. They tend to give an extra moment of thought to my images – thinking “now there must be a reason why he did this” – and I cannot be but pleased and honored with that.
Here is another example of even more extreme cropping in skating. Breaking all the rules again – yet the image works (imho) for two reasons: extremely controlled DOF to her face and very low angle to get the dark background.
Importance of Being Prepared
While I got into showing my skating images, let me show one more to illustrate the importance of preparation. This is shot from position I should not be in a competition – i.e. a definite no-no to do.
But: I saw her practise on Friday (and I shot it with a 200mm) and I thought that when she does that in a competition that would be a killer opening shot (if shot with a 400mm) . So come Sunday, I talked to the TV-guy responsible for the “Kiss&Cry”-camera before the ladies competition and asked for his permission to sneak right behind him on the floor when Kiira starts her program, to get a really low angle and head on image. He was really cool and nice about it. So only for the opening couple of seconds I crawled into the opening on the floor… And the result is my favorite image of the whole weekend.
So I guess I can declare the summer over and the winter sports season has begun.