With media pass in hand, i watched the Maybank Malaysia Open 2013 from the best seat in the house: court side. Photographing sporting events is comprised of several elements. The obvious task is to capture the event itself, the essence of the sporting prowess of the participants. The sweat, the grime, the falls, the effort of stamina, and the skills of the competitors.
This first part isn’t so difficult — just set your shutter speed to 1/400+, point your camera at the action and shoot until your buffer fills up. It certainly helps with a fast AF camera (the Canon 5D MarkII has decent continuous AF, though not brilliant), but it’s not really necessary until the controlled environment and distances involved. The AF-C of the Olympus OM-D i was using as backup is terrible, but just putting everything into hyperfocal and shooting to the buffer worked well too; easy enough to accomplish with a short 14mm lens. The Panasonic 14mm f2.5 lens is pretty poor to be honest and i found this out early on in the assignment – center focus is decently sharp, but anywhere near the edges and it just falls apart. Probably if i could take it up to f5.6 or more it would have eliminated this problem, but lighting conditions and the fast shutter required forced me to shoot wide open most times. The results aren’t great, not for sport photography in any case, when edge-to-edge sharpness is expected.
The second part is to capture the drama and the human emotions of the event. This was more interesting for me; sports documentary. In any sporting event, expect a lot of raw emotions to come through the players — their body language, the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. There is a lot to choose from, it’s a matter of picking the right moment, anticipating what would happen next, and making sure you are in primed to capture it.
All photographs captured with a Canon 5D MarkII, 135mm and 17-40mm & an Olympus OM-D with a 14mm and 45mm lens. Click on the images for the larger version on Flickr.