Monday 31 August 2009

World Champs Training - Sparring Action

Lens: 17.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 640

Backlit Jeremy Hanna sparring with Mark Trotter.

Lens: 18.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 640

Trotter's turn. Gritty shot on an angle.

Lens: 17.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 640

And again.

Lens: 17.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 1000

Carl Van Roon and Clint King slogging it out. I like "playing" with the reflections in the mirror to add interest to the composition.

Lens: 17.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 640

Carolina Dillen spars with Terry Edwards, who's come along to "play". I have another image like this of them taken square on but this angle makes it look much more dynamic.

Lens: 20.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 640

Carolina lands a nice fast head punch on Erica Germain.

Lens: 21.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 1000

And Erica replies. This is my favourite sparring image from the session.

And here are the rest of the sparring images...

More tomorrow...

Sunday 30 August 2009

Best Four in a Thousand from Saturday

I rocked up to the Saturday World Champs training at Mt Wellington yesterday hungry to get stuck in to photography. Here are the best four from over a thousand images taken...

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.0, ISO: 400

I love this image of Melissa. I took a lot of photos of Melissa with her hair flying around her face while sparring but it was really hard to get her in focus as she moves around so much and is so fast.

During the training I took lots of bursts of images and accumulated over a thousand during the three hours of training with many being out of focus, blurred, rubbish throw aways. Out of that came 150 keepers and then I whittled them down to the best 60 of which the top 4 are featured in this article. You've just got to take tons of images to get the goods when there's so much action happening. I'm excited about the results. Apart from the sparring action, I set my camera to as low an ISO setting that I could get away with to try and maximise the detail and quality. I also took all of these in black and white rather than convert them afterwards to help me learn how to "See" in black and white by checking out the results on the camera LCD screen as I went. Another thing that I did yesterday was set my camera on manual exposure, locking down the ISO, aperture and shutter speed. This allowed me to take some images directly into the bright light from the windows and get a good exposure of their faces at the same time without having to fluff around increasing and decreasing the exposure compensation due to the back lighting. This also created some nice over-exposed accidents when I shot some people when they were close to the windows where the light was a lot brighter.

The weather has been really warm and it got hot in the Dojang with everyone training breaking out in heaps of sweat and some getting quite soaked. There was lots of liquid consumed.

Lens: 21.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 1000

I took lots of images of Erica and Carolina sparring and this is the most dynamic. The higher ISO setting of 1000 allowed me to increase the shutter speed to 1/200s with my zoom lens which is slower than the f/1.8 prime lens which took the image of Melissa at the top. The higher ISO also makes the image more "gritty" which I like for sparring action.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/200s, f/1.8, ISO: 400

Steve Pellow and Jeremy Hanna are demonstrating a drill to the rest of the class near the start.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/200s, f/1.8, ISO: 400

Mark Trotter always looks stunning when he is doing patterns... they are so precise and snappy. Mark was practicing turning 180 degrees in this stance and I captured a few really nice images of him.

I'll feature the 60 images from this training session over the next few days so please come back for more.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Best Patterns Tournament - Pick of the Pix

Here are all 44 Pick of the Pix photos from the "Best of the Best" patterns tournament in one convenient place...

Friday 28 August 2009

Best Patterns Tournament - Odd Shots

Lens: 18.0mm, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO: 1000

Mr Couling responds to a cheeky "Hey Tim" shout from me from the balcony above between rounds. Click. It's a nice strong graphic image.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/160s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

I tried time and time again to capture an interesting image of the judges raising their flags. It is a lot harder than you'd think as I was often focused on the contestants and when I did try and setup a shot the blue flags would rise - the blue ones don't look half as bright and interesting as the red ones. Tried slow shutter speed, blurry flags, different angles and this was the only image that I think worked well.

Lens: 55.0mm, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Desiree McNie is standing in a shaded area under the balcony guiding the contestants with her hand signals. I snap this very poorly exposed image (significantly under exposed) and rescued it a bit by adding lots of contrast and brightness to come up with this ghostly looking image.

Lens: 28.0mm, 1/80s, f/3.2, ISO: 1000

The overall team patterns winners - and looking pretty happy. I hurried too much resulting in a blurry image (shutter speed too low to freeze the movement).

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/100s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

Sam hiding from me.

And here are the last 6 Pick of the Pix from the Pattern's Tournament...

Thursday 27 August 2009

Hands Up

I harped on about needing some ideas/inspiration a couple of weeks ago and Duncan suggested I do some close ups of hands/feet etc. Well I haven't done that yet but I had managed to capture some nice clear hands at the Best of the Best Tournament. I had set my camera ISO to 250 (very low for indoors) and with my fast 85mm f/1.8 prime lens and the result is nice clear skin tone and fine details.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

Courtney Meleisea

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/160s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/200s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

Bernice Ng

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/160s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

Alex Couling

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

Lens: 55.0mm, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Helen Caley. This image isn't as sharp and clear due to the higher ISO rating of 800 and the use of my 17-55 zoom lens instead of the 85mm prime (fixed focal length, ie can't be zoomed) lens.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

The Difference Eye Contact Makes

I've always maintained that it's important to capture a competitor's eyes to make a good image. And if you're lucky enough to capture the competitor looking directly at the camera it can make quite a difference as illustrated by the following two images of Alex Couling.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

In the above image Alex appears to be looking directly at the viewer. However, in the image below, she is looking straight past me (as she should!). To me, the image below is much less compelling as a result.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

Do you agree or am I talking a lot of rot?

Two images of the same stance but with eyes focused on different points would illustrate this better but I don't have a better example I can think of.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/160s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

And just to change the subject slightly, the image above has Courtney Meleisea is looking straight ahead, nowhere near me, but I find in looking at the image you are naturally drawn to her eyes all the same.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

One Eyed Patterns

I've still got a few Pick of the Pix images to publish from the Best of the Best Patterns Tournament a few weeks ago.

When sorting through the tournament images I found a some really interesting images in terms of capturing competitor's eyes. I found myself trying to capture a movement of some of the top patterns competitors positioning myself to have the eyes and hands kind of lined up or getting in each other's way. This had me tip-towing and making odd body movements of my own to line up the camera as I took these images. I must have looked pretty odd myself at time. Here are some of the results...

Lens: 42.0mm, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

I waited until Erica Germain's flying belt had covered one of her eyes before taking this shot. Believe that and you'd believe anything! It's an accident, but a really nice one. The one eye looking through the gap with the foot pointing to her face and the emphasis drawn on the face from the partial obsuring of it by the belt all helps to make this a nice composition. Try covering her face with your finger then you will see how the picture loses interest to see what I mean.

Lens: 55.0mm, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Courtney Meleisea finishes her pattern and probably wonders what I'm doing bobbing up and down, left and right to line up and snap this shot. Well things like this start happening when the photographer starts getting bored :-)

Lens: 55.0mm, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Erica has all of her face bar eyes covered by her hand. Her hand is nice and sharp with her face behind the focus point. It's an unusual image and I like it a lot.

Lens: 44.0mm, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Alex Couling's strong gaze almost looks right through me. It is strong, powerful making the stance look strong too.

Next I'll show examples of how eye contact with the photographer can make a difference.

Monday 24 August 2009

Taupo Camp - More Portraits

Here are the last 31 of the selected portrait images from the August Taupo camp. I took a fair few portraits at the times when there wasn't a lot of action happening, in the breaks and the like.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Rediscovered Image: Mark on a Roll

Lens: 55mm, 1/8000s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Mark and Luke are caught in the middle of the point when Mark Rolls over Luke's back in their gold medal winning pre-arranged routine back in May 2007.

Looking at the specs my camera was set-up all wrong for the bright sunlight conditions. F/2.8 lets in a ton of light but minimises the depth of field (depth of area in the image that is in focus). With so much light entering the camera it has to use it's fastest possible shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second. It should have been setup with something like ISO: 200 (clear sharp highly detailed), 1/500th of a second (freezing any movement), and f/5.0 (reasonable level of depth of field). I usually can't get away with using settings like these due to the lack of light normally experienced inside a dojang, but next time I'll try and remember to make the change. However, despite this the image is pretty successful I think.

I know I've been dragging out showing these images of Mark and Luke and I only have one left in my "must show you" folder. Rather than wait, here it is....

Lens: 42mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Friday 21 August 2009

Taupo Camp - Best Portraits

Lens: 160.0mm, 1/40s, f/5.0, ISO: 1250

I took lots of portrait style images during the weekend during times when there wasn't a lot of action. This one I think is my favourite. This is Phillipa Henry captured while working on team patterns (I think).

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/100s, f/2.0, ISO: 800

Robert Meleisea wasn't having a bar of me taking a portrait of him. He was wearing this hoodie which could have made a really nice shot but he kept hiding and this was the best I could get.

Lens: 180.0mm, 1/100s, f/5.0, ISO: 1250

Simon Davis was playing around and I managed to capture this out of focus shot of him which is kind of cool. It happened too fast for the lens to auto-focus. A nice "accident" really.

Lens: 300.0mm, 1/100s, f/5.6, ISO: 1250

Nice image of Michael Davis in thought while resting.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/400s, f/1.8, ISO: 640

A nice sharp low ISO clear image of Kara Timmer looking up and sizeing up the high kick target plate prior to her run up and kick. I love the sharpness, colour and catch-lights in her eyes. This is someone to watch out for - she is very talented.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/400s, f/1.8, ISO: 640

Bad form as I don't know this person's name. He was one of the extras helping out during the training. If you know, please leave a comment and I'll update this post.

More portraits to come....

Thursday 20 August 2009

Taupo Camp - Best Specialty Action

Lens: 24.0mm, 1/250s, f/5.0, ISO: 1250, flash

Carl van Roon captured in a cool shot of him performing the flying high kick. I developed a new technique for photographing these kicks that makes them look pretty amazing. Note the patented kiwi styled cardboard target board. You'd never guess it's real purpose.

Here are the rest of the specialty pick of the pix shots... you'll notice how less dramatic the ones taken at eye height compared with those taken from the ground.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Taupo Camp - Odd Shotz

Well the photographer has got to have some fun too :p

Taupo Camp - Best Patterns Action

I didn't photograph much in the way of patterns at this camp... I think it may be due to the overdose of patterns photography at the recent stunning "Best of the Best" patterns tournament.

So the images above are just a small taste for you.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Taupo Camp - Best Power Action

Lens: 28.0mm, 1/200s, f/3.2, ISO: 1600

Kane Baigent lines up for a knife hand break.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/400s, f/1.8, ISO: 1600

This is Carl van Roon looking through the power machine at me. Pity it's out of focus but I quite like it.

I tried a few weird ideas out photographing the guys doing their breaks but nothing worked for me. I really wanted a fist coming through the boards taken from behind the boards and we chatted about how you could maybe do this without smashing the camera into little pieces. In the end I think the traditional approach is best for Power... but you never know, there's always another day.

Here are the rest of the power pick of the pix below. I'm under strict instructions not to give anything away to the competition who may be watching our posts other than a message that the Juggernaut is still with us and is as powerful as ever.

Monday 17 August 2009

Taupo Camp - Best Sparring Action

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/400s, f/2.0, ISO: 800

Alica Parker lands a nice high kick on Helen Caley.

Lens: 54.0mm, 1/100s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

Kane Baigent and Luke Thompson tied together for sparring training. Not long after this Luke's belt broke.

Lens: 37.0mm, 1/320s, f/2.8, ISO: 1600

Richard Lavin sparring with Dale who was one of the extras that came along to help out. Please leave me a comment if you know Dale's surname. Thanks.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/400s, f/2.0, ISO: 800

Hamish Duncan and Michael Davis.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/200s, f/2.0, ISO: 800

Clint King and Kane Baigent.

And here are the rest of the Sparring Pick of the Pix........

I've written a small report on the activities, updating the posts on Saturday and Sunday.

More Taupo camp Pick of the Pix coming each day over the next few days, so come back for more...

Sunday 16 August 2009

Taupo Camp - Sunday Action

Sunday morning started with a group run through patterns to help warm up followed by individual patterns performances.

Next up was a mini-team sparring tournament with 6 teams of 5:
* 2 x light weight
* 2 x middle-weight
* 2 x heavy weight
They had three rounds of team sparring matches (15 matches in total).

Then they broked off into team patterns, team power and other events followed by performances of team specialty.

Lastly was the "Captains Hour" which was a team building exercise of fun - see the pictures of them crashing into the big blue gymnastics mats.

It rained most of the time were were in Taupo but it wasn't cold and it didn't bother us. Unfortunately a small number of seniors weren't able to attend due to work commitments and one or two were away sick.

The camp had a really good feel to it. Everyone got on really well and we're looking forward to the next one, a week after the Nationals.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Taupo Camp - Saturday Action

This was the first Taupo training camp since the team trials back at the end of May. Saturday started off with sparring drills and free sparring. This was an opportunity to mix up sparring partners between the regions.

Next they broke up into different team events with male teams working on power and specialty with female teams working on patterns. The junior male team also worked on their patterns. Others worked on their own events.

The day finished in the late afternoon with performances of team patterns, some individual patterns and team power performances.

Dinner was a fantastic roast (lamb, port and chicken) followed by our tradition of ice cream and fruit. It was all demolished in the usual style after a full day's training.

I've got to be a little careful about what I do and don't photograph/show at this stage so that we don't let on too much to other country teams what we're doing. This is especially so for team patterns and pre-arranged for obvious reasons.

Friday 14 August 2009

New Angles For Patterns

Lens: 50.0mm, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

I took a series of images of Alex Couling performing during the Best of the Best Patterns tournament last Sunday and some of the nicest of these images are featured here.

I tried a few times to capture the movement above but most of the time I was in the wrong position at the wrong time. Looks like it should be easy but when you don't know the patterns well enough it's not. For a change it is a nice sharp image with a little blurred movement showing in the kick.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/200s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

This was taken from the balcony above with my 85mm prime lens. Because the lens is a fixed telephoto (aka prime lens) and can't be zoomed I have no choice over the crop and this is particularly tight. It's a pity I've cut off her feet but standing on the balcony railing to get further away wasn't an option! However the bonus of this lens is it's speed and quality. I've cranked the ISO down to 250 to give much greater detail and sharpness with little noise. You can see this in the nice skin tones compared with a high ISO image. The top image above is ISO 800 at which point the quality starts going down dramatically. The one below is ISO 1000, even higher.

Lens: 55.0mm, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO: 1000

Back to my usual lens zoomed in to the maximum and now there's more room in the image. Being a higher ISO it's not a clear as the image above. It's quite a nice stance and the positioning of Alex and the black rectangle in the mats is nice.

Lens: 47.0mm, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO: 1000

Not sharp - shutter speed too slow, but a nice sense of movement.

Lens: 47.0mm, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO: 1000

And again.

Lens: 85.0mm, 1/80s, f/1.8, ISO: 250

And finally back down at eye level for this final image with the 85mm fixed lens again. Very slow shutter speed so I was lucky to get it as sharp as it is. The low aperture of f/1.8 combined with the telephoto has thrown the background right out of focus.

Thanks Alex :-)