by Gary Fong
Photographer: Gary Geschwind
Shooting sports is easy if you have the right equipment, access, timing, and a wealth of understand about the event. It’s very challenging if one doesn’t’ have any of the above…and/or not accustom to athletes moving.
Covering Pole Vaulting, like any other sporting event, needs specific planning and background knowledge. One must consider the sight lines, angles, background, and the personality of the athlete. Which way does the athlete turn at the peak moment of their event? Are there rivalries between particular athletes? Are records (or jaw bones) going to be broken?
Which brings me to Gary Geschwind’s Pole Vaulting image, Gary was challenged in all areas of capturing the defining moment. One must give credit to Geschwind, who’s more accustom to the slower pace of travel photography, than hard charging sports coverage. If anything, he’s having a good time discovering the many facets of the photography.
The simple fact that the athlete made it over the cross bar doesn’t necessarily make a great picture. Where’s the drama? Where’s the unique moment? Where’s the elation of emotion?
Geschwind’s exposure is 1/500, f/11, ISO 400. At 1/500th of a second, the subject motion is distracting in the pole valuator’s face. If stop action is intended for a fast moving event, the shutter speed should be 1/1000th of a second or faster.
I would also recommend a very shallow depth of field, to reduce distractions in the background. Since the event is in bright sunlight, one could adjust the ISO to 100 or lower to decrease the contrast. A practical setting could be in range of ISO 100, f/4, and 1/2000th.
What’s the proper angle? A better question is, where’s the best place to put the camera for the best story? If photographing exuberance, where is the face of the athlete when he or she goes over the bar? The angle to get that image may or may not be possible, given the restrictions of track officials. But it’s a good exercise to envision unique photos.
When shooting sports, watch the eyes. When an athlete is about to do something extraordinary, one can see it in their eyes. It’s usually the moment of greatness in sports.
If Gary had access to a longer lens, a better angle, and knowledge of the athlete’s personality, he would see the event with different eyes. Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? Keep shooting Mr. Geschwind.