Portland Timbers Reserves vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps Reserves
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to photograph the Portland Timbers Reserves vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps Reserves soccer match. This was all thanks to Craig Mitchelldyer and Thomas Boyd and their sports photography workshop. On top of the awesome-nesss of having the two nicest sports photographers I’ve ever met instruct us, they also hooked us up with cameras and lenses from Canon and ProPhoto Supply.
They taught us some great pointers on what makes a good sports photo (like having a good background), and then let us loose us for some real game experience (aka. released us for the slaughter). Shooting soccer is awesome. And difficult.
Here are 4 of the bazillion shooting pointers I learned while out on the field:
1) Have patience.
One of my goals was to get a good shot of the goalkeepers. Why? Well, ever since I saw Fabien Barthez win the 1998 World Cup, I’ve loved watching goalkeepers in action (especially when they have shaved heads).
I tried to use what I had learned in the keynote to get a good shot of the goalkeepers. However, it’s easy to get distracted and start looking at the ball. I had found an angle of view that I liked for the goalkeeper, but I often looked away to grab other action shots. Pro soccer is so fast (very fast) that before I knew it, the ball was already going towards the goalkeeper and I missed my shot. Next time I’ll get it. (because there will be a next time ;p heh)
2) Understand your subject.
I know enough about soccer to follow signs of what’s going to happen (direction changes, field kicks vs. corner kicks, etc.). What I don’t know are the Timbers. I confess, I’ve only gone to two games. Going into the game, I had no idea who was likely to get the header or who liked to strike often. (I do know that goalkeepers like to yell at everyone).
3) Know your equipment.
I spent a good amount of time in the first half getting used to the zoom of the 400mm lens and how far or close I could take a decent photo. It’s fairly zoomed, but it also has an okay depth of focus with the compression. Also, even with the lens on a monopod, it was very difficult for me to hold steady. I took photos of the other end of the field and at 1/8000 the photos were blurry. Tom mentioned the heat waves may cause issues. It could be them, it could be me. Oh, and all the awesome gear in the world (trust me, it was at this workshop) can’t make you an awesome photographer. This workshop confirmed it for all of us. You know what does…?
It wasn’t enough to know where the ball was going, but I need to work on the timing of getting the ball in “peak” action. Sure, little league soccer players don’t move as fast, but the physics is the same, and getting experience is always great. Not just that, but, I need to practice all these pointers (making good pictures, having patience, reading the ball and the players, using a monster lens).
In the end, this was the best experience in my photography career so far. Thanks Craig and Tom!