Friday, January 30, 2009

Gymnastics: Maryland vs NC State and Denver

I covered my second Gymnastics meet a week or so ago at Maryland when the Terps faced the Wolfpack of NC State and Denver.

I shot my first Gymnastics event a week prior and although I was familiar with the lighting in the venue (Comcast Pavilion) I was unfamiliar with the sport of gymnastics. As a result my photos weren't so hot. Giving gymnastics a second shot gave me a chance to evaluate my progress in this sport and I was happy to see that my shot selection and timing improved.

The team photographer was there for the event and offered some invaluable pointers during the shoot. He has some tricks and techniques he shared with me that were really eye opening. He mostly offered some focusing techniques and although I couldn't duplicate his approach I understood his methodology. His technique involved a combination of pre-focusing and angles so that you get a crisp in-focus shot of your gymnast in a particular exercise. His comment on his approach was something along the lines of "that's what 20 years of experience teaches you" and that message is very consistent with my own experience in the field of photography. Experience is king. Reading about photography is no replacement for getting out and taking photos.

I benefited from having attended last week's gymnastic's meet and that allowed me to pre-position myself for exercises for the Terps. For example, I anticipated the Terps would move to uneven bars after vault and would huddle around the chalk bin before the coach gave them some tips and last-minute motivation in a prep-talk. While I didn't capture that moment I expected it to happen and it was very validating to see it unfold. Next time if I'm looking for a coach shot or a shot of the gymnasts around the chalk bin I'll know where to look.

I found a nice spot for the beam exercise this evening: right at beam level looking straight down the beam. Last week I was off to the side and down low. This evening I rotated a little and I really liked some of the shots I got. I stayed low so that I was out of the way of the team photographer but I definitely recognized that by sitting up an additional 12 inches I would get a great distance shot of an athlete with their chin balanced on the beam. I'm looking forward to the next meet and I'm going to do my best to get that shot. I may even use the 300mm to capture the shot.

Lastly, as the athletes headed to the floor exercise I realized that they perform the same routine as the previous week. That turned out to be a real benefit because it helped me anticipate their position on the mat. In retrospect it made me wonder if all of their routines are recycled. I'll bet that they are and that the athletes work to perfect their routines (rather than alter than) over the season.

Overall I enjoyed my evening shooting the gymnasts. As always the lighting in the Pavilion is a challenge. However, it's good tucking another feather in my cap and being able to say "I've shot more than 1 gymnastics event".

Photos of Maryland's gymnastics competition with NC State and Denver are over on the DC Sports Box along with an article. Please go take a look!


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