Talent is important but I can’t help you in that department. As “The Picture Coach” I’d like to point out something that many pro shooters regularly do that is often overlooked–testing. Don’t worry, in all my years of shooting nobody ever asked my SAT score, luckily for me. Shooters use the term, testing, to describe taking out a new piece of gear or a lighting technique and practicing with it. Testing is also a good way to improving the odds of getting the picture you want when you do get the big job.
My friend Michael and I were at a swim meet the other day, not the Swimming Nationals in Indianapolis, just a neighborhood event like many might attend. He noticed they had raised the driving boards up from their front supports, maybe 45 degrees but didn’t remove them from their rear supports. I knew instantly where he was going and liked how he was thinking. For several years he had been shooting swimming and each season his work just gets better. If you want to see swimmers, doing the butterfly stroke with just the tips of their fingers dragging across the water then he’s your guy. Once he’d covered the basics it was time to start looking for more challenges.
While these meets aren’t the big time they still don’t let photographer hang off the diving board to shoot photos. Michael knew I had several cases of clamps, special brackets, various widgets and tripods so we started talking about how to attach the camera to the diving board. The goal was to mount the cameras on the board before the meet started. Once they started swimming, he could fire the camera with a long remote cord from behind the action. We quickly realized attaching the camera was the easy part. The big question became what will his Canon D30 with a 16-35 lens “see” when mounted seven feet off the water.
Michael bravely handed me $2600 worth of his camera gear and watched me slowly walk to the end of the drive board to eyeball the shot. He stayed on the ground to coach the swimmer on what we were looking for. We made a few shots before realizing it looked great with the swimmer right under the board but in a real meet the only thing right under the board will be a blue lane divider. It’s small stuff like that you can only find out when you test. When Michael sets up for tonight’s shoot he will have this problem corrected and be prepared to make great photos. I’ll post more photos of how we mounted the camera and his action pictures later this week.
Here is a test photo I took with the Canon D30 and the 16-35 mm lens, F-4 at 1/1600 of a sec.
Special thanks to Michael Phelps for helping with out test