Sports event photography

There was this famous philosopher named Ayn Rand who described photography not as an art, but a technique that captures art. In her book The Romantic Manifesto, she stated that “[Photography] is a technical, not a creative, skill. Art requires a selective re-creation.” Capturing subjects or scenes with the use of a camera is simply preserving what has already been re-created in a form of pictures, which is why photography cannot be categorized as an art. Since it is a technique using cameras, how do people then develop such skill to capture artistic scenes? There are a lot of books or references in taking photographs and most of them are not that hard to understand because photography is something that anyone could learn.

The thing is that people who are interested to develop such skill must constantly engage in properly using the features of the camera while applying those features depending on certain scenes. Taking photos of subjects in motion is quite challenging, especially athletes who are participating in sports competitions. In my case, doing photography in sports events was a great choice. It is one of the ways to take such technical skill to a higher level in a short time as the photographer’s adrenaline is constantly pushed so that the body responds accordingly to the subjects in motion.

event photography

I had been a sports photographer for five years during my College years but I only used two models of Canon DSLR: 1100D and EOS7D. I never had a formal lesson in using them but for me, angle is a great factor that gives life to pictures. My favorite subjects in taking photographs are nature and athletes playing in a game. The latter is insanely challenging because I run, lie on the floor and hold the camera up high just to capture moments with great angles, but that didn’t stop me from taking photographs during sports events. Sometimes I seem like a hunter, waiting for my preys to show perfect athletic postures during their battles in the sports arena. At the same time, I also think what type of pictures these young athletes want to see as they move within the court. Doing photography in sports events helped me much in the improvement of my technical skills using cameras.

What are the advantages of doing photography in sports events compared to other events? Because athletes participating in a game are in constant motion, it helps the photographer in becoming a keen observer or aware of the surroundings most of the time. As mentioned above, adrenaline helps the photographer function in a best way because the he has to cope up with the speed of the athletes and their constant change in position and posture in order to capture their best moments.

The observation skills of the photographer develop in a situation where he does not only focus on the athletes playing but also on the audience at the same time. He must constantly focus and concentrate not just on the movements or postures of the athletes but also on their good facial expressions while being aware of the facial expressions of the audience in background.

There were times that I took photos of basketball players on the court with one the audience having a really bad facial expression (widely opened mouth and closed eyes) that I had to delete the file even though the photo of the basketball players in motion were great. I have a strict rule in taking pictures of people in groups: everyone should look good in the photo even if there is a certain subject that I’m really focused on.

ateneo volleyball court

I was a student assistant in a prestigious school in Davao city and I started helping in taking pictures of people (students and employees) for the production of their ID card. I simply capture people’s smiling faces but I also tell some people to groom first before I take their picture so that they will look better. Same goes to special occasions like awarding ceremonies where I take pictures of people who wear their best smiles and attires to look great.

Apparently, all of them are still subjects so from time to time, I take candid pictures to enhance my skills in observation and proper timing. However, doing photography in sports events greatly sharpen my timing and increase my speed in capturing scenes because the subjects constantly move either quick or fast that my body automatically adjusted. The photographer has to catch up with the movements of the players to capture a scene that the players and audience would appreciate. He will be driven to move fast towards certain areas where he can capture scenes in a great angle as players offensively and defensively move in the sports arena in quick and fast motions.

Doing photography in sports events also increases the ability to anticipate the movements of the subjects, which gives greater possibility for a perfect timing in photo capture. As I constantly volunteered in the Athletics department to take pictures of the athletes playing, my speed and timing in taking photographs of moving subjects greatly developed in less than two weeks.

 

dribble of a ball

Another advantage of doing photography in sports events is that it improves the understanding in using various angles to certain scenes. In volleyball, most photos look great in worm’s eye view, especially in taking photos of two or three spikers and blockers when they jump near the net. Bird’s eye view is better in taking pictures of groups of athletes in the same team, trying to set the ball to their advantage.

Even in basketball, badminton and table tennis, worm’s eye view is a better angle with a little tilt of the camera either to the left or right since it somehow emphasizes the movements of the players. In sports competitions, worm’s and bird’s eye views are preferably used based on my experiences since they would make the athletes look like they are really moving in the picture.

Simply taking pictures with the man’s eye view does not create much impact. There were times that I had to move to the balcony just to take photos in bird’s eye view. Frequently moving fast from sitting or laying on the floor to raising the camera up and changing location from one point to another could drain a lot of energy, especially when the temperature in the sports arena is hot, but it’s quite fulfilling to see the pictures of playing athletes in various angles. In addition, it gives the photographer a good exercise because he is driven to move constantly to follow with the athletes’ motion while keeping him optimistic as happy hormones are released, motivating him to work harder and smarter.

Photography in sports events is not an easy task because the photographer has to focus and concentrate during a sports competition to obtain great pictures. Professionals know that taking pictures of moving subjects requires much attention in order not to miss great moments in the sports arena, which is why proper attire and hair accessories are necessary. As much as possible, the photographer should wear slightly loose, thin clothes, preferably without sleeves, in order to avoid discomfort while taking photos.

The best lower garment to wear is shorts (two to three inches above the knee) so that one can move freely from a sitting or laying position to a standing one. Women could wear miniskirts but with cycling shorts underneath. Jogging pants are okay but it becomes uncomfortable to wear during hot weathers. Sneakers are the most appropriate to wear, especially running shoes since they are flexible, lightweight and safe from getting injuries. With regards to keeping the hair in place, use hairbands to avoid contact with eyes or to avoid blocking the view while looking at the lens. The best hairstyle for women is braid as it keeps most of the hair locked up, but don’t forget to use hairbands for women with bangs.

As I stated before, I was only able to used two models of Canon DSLR. However, both have different weights – 1100D is lightweight while is EOS7D heavyweight. I always use the sports mode when taking photographs as it lessens the chances of producing fuzzy captures of athletes in action. When photographers are required to constantly move to take pictures, it is preferable to use heavyweight cameras since they limit the hands and arms to move freely or comfortably by lowering the chances of involuntary and unstable movements, preventing to capture blurry pictures.

Lightweight cameras are comfortable to use but they produce blurry pictures for moving subjects most of the time because they freely leave the hands and arms unstable, leaving fuzzy captures. Take also into consideration in using certain heavyweight cameras that one could carry throughout a game. It would be disappointing for a sports photographer to often rest the hands and arms because the camera was heavier to handle than expected.

Photography in sports events also involves certain risks like higher chances of being hit by a ball. The distance between the sports photographer and the athletes should be then considered, especially when one does not have good reflexes. Since I’m an athlete myself, I was confident enough to move near the boundaries of the court but it was mainly because the lens I was using is limited to certain distances that I had to position myself near the boundaries to capture photos of the athletes playing.

Staying near the boundaries was very risky since it was not only because of the chances of getting hit by a ball, but also getting tackled unintentionally by players! Good thing the latter never happened to me because of my and the athletes’ reflexes. I was hit by a ball several times but I never regretted positioning myself near the court boundaries because I was able to produce great outputs in photography. One way or another, sports photographers must always be aware of the distance from the athletes to avoid injury, but also take note that great risks produce great results.

sports photography

Doing photography in sports events requires huge effort compared to events where people simply pose attractively for the photographer. It challenges the photographer to constantly move around the sports arena to get the best angle in capturing moving subjects, leaving the photographer tired and exhausted in a short time.

Another problem is that there will always be bad pictures in all the pictures taken from athletes in action since there are several things to consider in the subject/s – postures, facial expressions, location, lighting, angle and people in the background all at the same time. The photographer also has to consider the kind of picture the athletes want to keep for their photo album of memorable sports competitions.

Despite the challenges, the photographer will be able to practice tolerance and will be driven to strive more in capturing great moments of athletes playing certain sports because moving from certain point to another to get a great angle would make a good exercise that would help release happy hormones.

At the end of the day, it is still advantageous for the photographer to take photos during sports events since there will be a lot of opportunities to learn and discover new technical skills fast in using cameras. If you know any sports event, try practicing photography with athletes in action. If you have no idea, start by looking for a place where athletes gather to train themselves or maybe places where people simply play street basketball or beach volley. I tell you, it’s really fulfilling, especially when someone thanks you for capturing their athletic postures.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

Have you ever climb Kilimanjaro?

(This is dedicated to our guide, porter, waiter and cook. Gregory, Juma and all the Trekking Hero team.

Have you ever thought of going to Climb Kilimanjaro.

This article is for you… to get some tips and some guidance on what to do and how you can make it to the top of UHURU Peak, the highest point of Kilimanjaro.

This is my story and reality in Climbing Kilimanjaro.

Our Journey was on 11 September to 17 September 2016

Before I could continue… I need to explain to you about Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, “Kibo”, “Mawenzi”, and “Shira”, is a dormant volcano in Tanzania.

kilimanjaro-2
my hubby, myself and in the middle is Juma one of our guide

It is the highest mountain in Africa,

and rises approximately 4,900 m from its base to 5,895 meters above sea level. Elevation: 5,895 meters. Prominence: 5,885 m
First ascent: 1889 by Ludwig Purtscheller and Hans Meyer.
Mountain range: Eastern Rift mountains

(above Resources from Wikipedia)
I am not a climber… and
sometimes or many times we under estimate the mountain.
Many people fit or unfit. They have purpose why climbing Kilimanjaro.
But to me, I want to prove that an Ashmatic person can do what they want and fight for this Ashamatic problem.

My experience was never easy.
My hubby and I took the Rongai Route where they said the most scenic.  Its a long way but your body will have a chance in getting into climitazation  in preparation for the  highest peak.  Rongai indeed is a very scenic route but not an easy one either.

The route has a beautiful scenery, many little flowers as well as the large ones. A few foot steps of wild animals like elephant and buffalo were seen during our climb.

We had 7 days of expedition in total.
Each day, we go and walk long hours (about 4 to 7 hours at the beginning). Was even longer hours when we are about the climb.
From one base camp to another until we reach to Kibo Hut where the final campsite prior to Climbing the Uhuru Peak- the highest point of Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro is not only a  mountain, it is also a huge park and playground to many wild animals and of course the humans.

Our climb from Kibu Hut base camp begins…

Our last night before the climb to the highest point, I ask my husband Markus if we could stay at the room. In Kibo, there is a Hut and it has few  rooms (4 rooms as I remember)  and in each room there are 10 to 12 bank beds.

All the nights during this climb were super cold for me.. The sleeping bags we had was rented from the agency were we took  and paid the package trip. Those bags were not warm at all. It is not meant for that kind of weather according to my Austrian husband.

I recommend that best is to bring your own sleeping bags. Get the best that keeps you warm at night so have a lot of energy the next day.

Another problem is that, the toilets were super dirty.. yes, there are few toilet small rooms, they dig a hole and cover it with wood.  But is so smelly, no water to wash the dirt. Water is tough in Africa.. Really.

This is just below the Mawenzi camp where we spent a night..
This is just below the Mawenzi camp where we spent a night..

Here is our preparation on the night of the climb

This night we were inside the Kibo Hut.. my heart were pounding and beats so hard for excitement or perhaps anxiety?

Inside the room, on this little corners of the bank beds and on the wall of the rooms, there were a few notes were written… notes of motivations, notes of information.. some of those notes were saying…

“I almost died..”

“15 out of 15.. we all made it”

“kili is a mind game”

“Gals, you don’t give up… you can do it”

 

We had an early rest that night.  Went to bed at 6 pm and woke up at 10pm for the final ascend…  here comes  Midnight, we walk all the way up to a never, NEVER seems to end stiff, rocky and stony mountain for long hours.

One of out guide took this image as we walk up to Gillman's point before the Uhuru pick.
One of out guide took this image as we walk up to Gillman’s point before the Uhuru pick.

Pole Pole– slow slow.

We cannot walk fast as we and many other climbers that night were breathless. So windy and  it was like a minus 20 degree cold. Climbers were just puking from one path to the other. When you hear them.. you feel doing the same.. We were out of even eating the energy bars. Don’t have appetite and you wish… you get there FAST and so you get this OVER with.

Very tricky
Before you can reach to Uhuru pick either you submit first to Gillman’s point or Estella point. When we arrive at the Gillman’s Pick, I thought this was the highest point already, it was seems to be.. Oh no…. you have to get to Stella point after Gillman’s point and then to Uhuru Pick.

Super cold and super long nite as I could Imagine.
Arrived at Uhuru pick 9:13 am on 16 of September 2016 from Kibo hut, trying to breath and breath. Headache start to aches. Vomiting, etc. A mix feelings. We have walk now now from 12 Midnight to 9am in the morrning. With only second or the most 1 minute of rest. I did not understand why we cannot rest longer.

The photo seems not so vertical, but it is so stiff really.
The photo seems not so vertical, but it is so stiff really.

Breathless, my water got frozen, could not drink, even it was prevented from getting frozen and it’s still is.

Since the starting point of this adventures…  I have taken  Diamox to prevent me from getting Altitude sickness.

I do not recommend you to take Diamox…

It just gave a lot of side effects. Before the day of climb, I was already breathless. Tingling on both fingers and feet. So like a drug addict.

The best thing you do is to prepare yourself healthy much ahead before the climb. Prepare yourself like a year or so.. keep fit and strong is all you need as well as strong in your mind and attitude of a ‘GO GETTERS’

this is the top of Kilimanjaro with Juma and Gregory our guide
this is the top of Kilimanjaro with Juma and Gregory our guide

Because of the inspiration with my husband Markus, I made it to first, you reach to Gillman’s Point when you are coming from Kibo Hut or the Rongai Route. Followed by Stella Point that may take about 30 minutes on slow pace walk. And to the very top of Kilimanjaro where there lies the Ice Age..

I am saying... If I can do it! So can you!
I am saying… If I can do it! So can you!
( on my note that I hold in that image.. I said.. ‘If I can do it! So can You”)

It was amazing..  to be on the top of Kilimanjaro… It was a fulfillment of our life.. It was also a time where getting to know my husband well. The time where the life and death comes together. Then you knew how your relationship worth as a husband and wife. It was beautiful doing this climb of Kilimanjaro.

Now were in-love once again…

I wish I was in good condition…

to take images though, one of my camera were frozen. Only had the hand held canon and it took photos just fine. But only taken a few. I was focus on my plan that I have to Dance on the top of Kilimanjaro. Which I did.

You are only allowed to stay 15 minutes to take your photo taken.

And you were not the only one at this time.

As we descend from the pick, we were cruising the sandy and stony path dust all over until your nose bleed from sneezing.

 

IMPORTANT TIPS TO KNOW….

Bring yourself a super warm sleeping bag, DO NOT rent from your agency. It’s not warm enough for individual needs.

Good hiking shoes.. I bought mine from Lowa brand. Super comfortable.

Super warm but light clothing.

Flash lights and spare batteries.

You have to use walking sticks. It does help when going down the mountain. Even if you are so young.. your Knee will suffer from the down impact of walk.

Trekking Hero agency however are very helpful.
The people in Africa are all great really. The warmest people I ever met.

To summarize the above mention.. Here is my video on this trip. Please do share .. and thank you for reading..