Andy & Lauren…..and the Dogs.

Posted on September 3, 2017 by Darren under engagement shoot
Leave a comment

It was so good to meet up with this wonderful couple recently. We will be shooting their Winter Wedding at the end of this year, and this was their ‘Engagement’ shoot. It was held in a freshly combined and bailed field on farm land owned by the lovely Lauren’s family. In keeping with the rural nature, it was a nice touch to have the family working dogs out with us for the duration, and they helped to acquire some lovely photo opportunities. I just loved this natural stage for doing some photo’s. The weather was pretty kind to us also, a blanket of white cloud at the back end of the day  gave a pleasant diffused lighting to our environment. On top of it all, the excursion was quite a workout for me, so all in all a positive end to the day. Thank you both, you looked fantastic for this natural shoot, and I am so looking forward to the big day in December. If you are looking for your Wedding Photographer for your big day, it’s never too late, and I’m taking bookings for 2018 & 2019. Things are moving, so do not hesitate. Come in for a look, and contact me.

The Drone…..first impressions

Posted on May 17, 2017 by Darren under Drone Flying
Leave a comment

As usual, and probably some of you may be familiar with this, the blog status seems to have suffered. That, ‘I’ll update it in a few days after I’ve done so and so’ mindset. Then the time passes, and nothing gets updated! Maybe my theory that those that follow will have had many updates from my facebook page. None the less more effort is required on my part.

In recent month I have added a Drone to my Photography kit collection. I was fascinated by the amount of aerial imagery and video that I had been seeing. After getting a close up examination and demonstration of the way these worked, and the added dimension that they could offer, I decided that the investment was necessary.
Much homework was done and for my requirements I had decided on using one of the Drone market leaders (DJI) devices, the Phantom 4.


As well as the machine itself, there are many safety aspects, and rules and regulations to adhere to in order to maintain safe flying. My first focus was to learn to fly the ‘bird’. In an open field, with it locked in to beginner mode it didn’t take long to get used to the controls. Thankfully, beginner mode would keep the Drone limited to a certain height, speed and distance. Perfect, and happy to get back onto terra firma without any hiccups! This process , along with much reading, and youtubing, continued for a while. Once confidence had grown, and settings had been adapted to suit, it was time to come out of beginner mode, to a more free’er flight mode. Still being looked after by GPS, and the added comfort that if for any reason it lost signal, or communication between the control and the drone itself failed, the machine’s inbuilt Return to Home feature would kick in, and return the Drone to the spot it took off from. So, manouvering at greater speeds, height and distance was a new challenge. The only way to get used to it and fine tune your skills is to practice and use the machine regularly, and it’s something I have now done on many occasions.

The purpose for obtaining the drone was obviously, not to fly around a field aimlessly, but to get some aerial images, and video footage. This is something I have enjoyed participating in with great results. Again, some trial and error on settings, but on the whole some satisfactory results. After registering myself as a user, and registering my Drone with ‘Dronesafe’ I have some safe gaurds when out flying the machine.

I’ve managed to use it to capture some local events, and some images that see the local landscape from a different, and very interesting perspective.

Early impressions are very good. Feedback on mages and video has been superb, and numerous inquiries have followed. A couple of early errors such as travelling out, but forgetting to insert memory card, and forgetting to take cable to connect screen to controller are something only done once! Good light means good images…and a happy drone.

Match Day Photography & Newspaper Publication

Posted on September 29, 2016 by Darren under Sports Event
Leave a comment

With the football season a few months in, and after experiencing the typical British end of summer weather, otherwise known as RAIN, teams are beginning to settle, and relevant stories are beginning to unfold as teams find themselves in certain positions in the league. Some positions surprising, and others disappointing. There are always certain fixtures that pop out of the fixture list, and grab a bit more attention. One of these was the recent EFL Championship game between Aston Villa and Newcastle United, at Villa Park. Last season this was a Premier League fixture. Who would have anticipated that both would be playing Championship football the following season! Well, by time the corresponding fixture last season took place on 7th May, possibly the writing was on the wall for both clubs. Funnily enough the last 3 league fixtures between the two clubs have all ended in draws, 1-1, 0-0, and 1-1. So a betting man would have gone for another draw, and he’d have been correct as it ended another 1-1 draw.

The reason behind this blog post was just to give a little insight into getting the image from the game, onto the Newspapers’ picture desks and final publication in the Newspaper.

I always allow plenty of time to venture up to Villa Park. The roads up to the motorway are usually slow, and the motorways can either be fantastic, in which case you arrive extremely early. On the other hand they can be painfully slow, in which case you end up arriving just early! In both cases, I tend to arrive with plenty of time. I park up at a Match Day parking place, and take the 10 minute walk to the stadium.

Entry for Media is via the North Stand. Bags searched, Sign in, collect ID Badge & Program and into the stadium. Villa Park does not have a Photographers room as such, but a work area in the concourse, with about 8 work stations that are always taken up! I generally don’t tend to require any such facility at this stage as I have done all prep before hand, and am ready to shoot, edit, caption and upload! At Villa Park, you are also given a food voucher which entitles you to a pie and a drink. Always handy after a drive.

The next important thing I tend to do is go down to pitch side and get my place. It’s always surprising to think that you are so early, and yet other photographers have already been down to bagsy their position. This is a case of putting your monopod down in the place that you want to shoot from. It’s seems to be an industry accepted rule that is respected. I’ve given my shooting position much deliberation over the time I’ve been shooting the football matches, and it is very difficult thing to always get right. As I shoot with a 400mm lens, I tend to sit behind the goal rather that to the sides of the pitch. It’s great for shooting up field, and I use a shorter 70-200mm lens for the action that gets closer, particularly for a goal and celebration. My feeling for the afternoon was to sit at the Holte End goal, to the left as you look up field. This meant that as well as the action, I could also see the dug outs which are always good for a few manager shots.

Anyway, it was the right decision for the game. In the first half Newcastle scored in the first half at the Holte End. I managed to get the player crossing the ball that then lead to the own goal. I also got the Newcastle player that was closest to the ball celebrating. These are both good images. As I had taken them in a burst mode, I had to flick between them all and select the ones that I was going to edit and send off. On the cameras I use you are able to lock these images. When I then put this memory card into the card reader to upload them onto my laptop, it will automatically upload the latest locked images. A real time saver. These then open into the editing software, and are imported ready for some quick edits. This really involves a crop into the action if necessary, some lightening, or even darkening as required, maybe  bit of sharpening if it is soft. This image is then sent into the captioning software where you will add a description of who is in the image and what is happening. The bulk of the caption is already pre loaded, it is a case of adding the players, and what’s happening. The industry standard for this is the Photomechanic software. So once the images here are captioned, they are then sent off to the picture desks. This s a web address already pre loaded into the software.

eg ” DeAndre Yedlin of Newcastle United crosses during the EFL Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park, Birmingham, England on 24 September 2016. Photo by Darren Musgrove.”

“Dwight Gayle of Newcastle United celebrates his sides opening goal during the EFL Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park, Birmingham, England on 24 September 2016. Photo by Darren Musgrove.”

untitled-19             untitled-20

This picture made it onto the Sun Newspaper football website. I had hoped that the player celebrating the goal would have been used also. A picture almost identical to mine was used instead. This can be quite a frustrating part of the job, as you can be almost certain you have the killer shot only to find out that the guy next to you had the same, but maybe from a slightly different angle that made it more appealing. I later discovered that the guy shooting to my right was a Getty Images photographer. The shot of the player crossing the ball here was great for me as he was right in front of me whereas, he was probably at a less favourable angle to Mr Getty.  The player celebrating from him was almost the same as we were both shooting into the goal from similar angles.

So, with these images uploading, it’s still a requirement to keep your eye on the game. That’s why I have multiple memory cards in use as it’s not a good idea to leave a camera with no memory card inside. It would be typical that the best piece of action ever would happen right on your lap, but you weren’t ready as your memory card was in the card reader, not the camera!

Breaks in play, or quieter periods are a good time to flick through images that you know you’ve got on your camera, and get them onto your laptop. Again, either edit them when there’s a break in play, or a quieter period, or wait until half time/end of game to get the action shots sent off. Important action, Goals, celebrations, red cards or anything of significance, I tend to import, edit, caption, upload as soon as is possible.

The next significant piece of action was the equalising goal for Aston Villa. This was late in the second half, so was at the same end as the opening goal in the first half. The header from a corner was toowards my side of the goal, so nearer me (and Mr Getty) and the following celebration  was straight towards me, (and Mr.Getty). This all happens within a few seconds. As soon as the celebration had passed, I instantly get to work on the images. At this point you pray the images are in focus as much as you where sure when you were shooting the action. They were all good. So repeating the procedure they are uploaded withing a few minutes.

Looking through the many match reports after a game, and the images all used, it’s always satisfying to see one of your own, no matter how small. By the same token, it’s always frustrating to see almost identical images shot by the guy that was next to you! Some of these guys (and girls) are shooting directly for a publication so their images will be used regardless. So Getty, Reuters, Action Images etc will already have someone, somewhere waiting for their images.

Sundays are usually the time to have a quick scan through the papers to see if you can see anything familiar. I must admit, I’m not a frequent paper trawler. I usually get a notification from the agency advising me of a payment that’s gone through for me, for an image used 4-6 weeks back! I have bought a few newspaper back issues!

However, on this occasion, I was quite sure in myself that this would be up there with the rest of them, even considering the bigger game that it was. The Daily Star on Sunday had used my image of the equalising goal by Aston Villa. It was quite a sizable print too, so would be a good payer. Other papers having very little picture coverage! The one with the goal being scored in one other publication was one for Mr Getty. Mine had the ball over the players face, his has the ball just passed the players face! The image of the 3 Newcastle players celebrating the first goal, in the same paper publication was almost mine!!!! But, my image was fractionally to the right, so concealing the faces more. All in all, a good afternoons work. The test will be when it gets noticeably colder and your fingers don’t do what you want them to do! The full set from the game can be found here.  https://goo.gl/kp9ELg

untitled-29        untitled-30     untitled-edit

 

The Party Photo’s

Posted on September 7, 2016 by Darren under Wedding Reception
Leave a comment

One of our recent Wedding shoots involved an open air, but under canopy night time party, with very much a Festival Theme. This was something different to be thinking about when it came to deciding on the best way to capture the party goers.

I was keen to get those having a dance in a good light, but not overpowering, and at the same time give it a sense of drama, like a good night out would have.

I decided to keep with our Lastolite Ezybox ll soft box that we had been using through out the day to light up an area or subject as required. This utilised a single Nikon SB800 flash with a pocketwizard receiver triggered by another on camera Pocketwizard.  I felt that this wold be the easiest way to throw a key light onto the area, or persons that I wanted to capture. I set up a kick light, another Nikon SB800, also with a pocketwizard receiver, on full power  on the opposing side to where I would be shooting from. In this case, it was located behind the main DJ, a good 15-10 feet behind to avoid any inadvertent contact by anyone, and I would always be looking into the general direction of this flash but trying to get it obscured by the DJ, or someone else dancing. It generally gave a good effect, either a nice rim light, or a sun like glow in the back ground. This was a very Ad-Hoc arrangement on the night, and as it was still relatively light on a summers evening. I don’t think it needed any over kill from multiple kick lights. However, I’m sure I will be using 2-4 lights when I have an indoor reception. The set up for this arrangement included 2xNikon SB800 Flash, 3xPocketwizard lll transceivers, Flash Stand, Lastolite EzyBox ll softbox mounted on a monopod. The beauty with this is that my assistant has free control of height and angle as required, rather than a rigid flash on a stand.

untitled-342 untitled-394 untitled-425 untitled-452

Saal Digital Photo Book Review

Posted on September 3, 2016 by Darren under Product review
Leave a comment

I have recently been involved in a few Wedding shoots, and other Wedding exercises that have returned some very sweet images. As I am venturing down the Wedding Photography side of things, I have been keen to find a product in which I can use to show my work to others, particularly potential clients. In my mind, I wanted something that is unobtrusive, plain, with no distractions, and most of all would be of a high quality that would compliment the high quality images it would be displaying. It’s important that clients don’t feel a cheapness in their hands when they are flicking through a product, because any negative impact of any sort could be the difference between getting hired, or getting fired!!

I chose a product made by Saal Digital. This company has a large selection of photobooks, prints, cards, posters etc, etc. It’s the photobook I was interested in.

The first thing required was to download a small piece of software onto my computer in order to help with the process of designing my book, about 7.5mb in size, so done in no time. From this point on it was literally a case of choose book, choose finishing, choose template for design, and drag and drop images into place. I like things to be straight forward like this, and it worked a treat. If an image was in the wrong place, removing it, or re positioning it was as simple as deleting a word in a text. Starting with the front cover, I loved how I was able to use an image that would spread the whole of the outside of the book, Front cover, Spine, and Back cover, and tuck ever so slightly into the inside of the back and front covers so as to keep the whole book neat and tidy looking.  An area for text was available if needed, or even an overlapping image if required. I went for my logo, half opacity, on the front cover. As I went through each page, I put pages together in no time at all. The options of photo page layouts are so vast, from full page/double page spreads of a single image, to multiple on a single page, you shape it to look the way you want it to, all with a simple click and drag to change layout.

Adding pages is done by just a click of a button, as is removing pages.  The Check out process was flawless. and emailed instantly with an order number which I could use if I had to contact support for any reason. In the same email was also a link for you to keep track of your order. Not just in delivery stages, but also where it was in the ‘shop’ process, ie, received order, order being printed, print complete type of updates. Then a tracking number for you to keep an eye on it during it’s transit to your delivery point. I submitted my order on the Tuesday afternoon, and had the completed photobook in my hand on Saturday morning.

The best bit for me at this stage was another email later that evening with a link to Discover my Photobook Online.This allowed me to browse my product as a digital book online, page by page. I was also able to share this link with anybody for them to go in and have a look also. How good will that be for clients.!?

When the product arrived I was not disappointed at all. It was perfect. The colours were so true. The same as I had put together on my PC Monitor. The hard back A4 Photobook was like holding a copy of Shoot annual, or the Beano annual I had when I was a child. The Matt finish texture I had chosen was smooth and soft, and no other intrusive markings, or logo’s or little web addresses that can often cheapen the products look. The only thing on the back cover, in the bottom right hand corner was a small, and I mean small electronic scan-able barcode measuring 7mmx5mm (smaller than my little finger nail) In fact, I even think there is an option to remove this barcode which I didn’t discover until I had submitted my order.

The pages inside were quite thick paper, or perhaps better described as a thin card. Durable, and will no doubt withstand many page turns. The Matt finish I had gone for was clean and smooth. The colours, as I’ve already said, were flawless. The vibrancy was all there. The quality of print was eye popping. As a photographer, pin sharp images are a must, particularly when presenting Wedding photo’s. There is no loss in quality whatsoever. Each image was perfect.

The photobook has a ‘Lay Flat’ design. This means that as I opened the book I could lay the whole thing flat on the table to look at each image. Perfect for the pages where both have been used for a single full spread effect. The way this book has been put together means there is absolutely no stress on the join between pages.

I am more than happy with the product that saal-digital.co.uk has supplied me with. These will be my go to suppliers of photobooks that I require, and I will be keen to try enhanced products next time round now that I am confident of the quality they supply. A easy 5* out of 5* for me.

 

untitled-26 untitled-27untitled-28  untitled-32 untitled-31 untitled-30 untitled-29   untitled-33untitled-34untitled-35

Working for Sports Photo Agency

Posted on February 21, 2016 by Darren under Sports Event
Leave a comment

It was an exciting day, if not a bit daunting, when I was contacted by a Photo Agency, particularly as they were a specialised Sports Photo Agency. There are a number of Sports Photo Agencys out there that all vie to do the same thing, and that is to sell images to the newspapers, and other publications.

It appeared that the non League football that I was covering, and the local grass roots football I had been shooting over a period of time had not gone un noticed. In this day and age of social media, it is much easier I suppose to look for something of a particular niche, and to also feed a particular niche. Sports photography is no exception.

UK Sports Pics Lts is a small growing agency based in Croydon, south London, funnily enough where I hale from. It’s Director is an Italian chap called Salvio.

I’ve been following them for a while on twitter, as I do a number of other photo agencys. It’s a way of keeping up to date with whats being covered, what quality of work is expected, and ultimately for me, which one I would approach when I felt the time was right for me. It’s also very unusual that you get followed back by any of them, unless you are at the very top in the industry.

So, I get a new follower on my Twitter account. I have a look, and it’s @uksportspics. Oh, that’s nice, I think to myself. Within a few minutes I have an email from Salvio Calabrese (sounds like an Italian footballer), introducing himself, and what they do. He advises me that he has been following me for a few months, particularly with the Non League work I have been doing at Kidderminster Harriers and Worcester City and that he really like what he had been seeing, along with other photo’s on my website. He finished by requesting that we have a chat on the phone, so we made an arrangement for the following evening.

After sitting at the computer for a few minutes, and re-reading our conversation, I go through a tonne of images, re-assessing them wondering which ones in particular caught his eye. The rest of the evening I spend trying to ascertain what he may want from me. Maybe someone in this area to cover the non league scene?

Salvio rang, as arranged, on the dot! He speaks very fluent English, but with a massive Italian accent. He reminded me of Paulo Di Canio, the footballer. The enthusiasm oozed from his voice. Here is a man totally passionate about what he does, and very knowledgable on the insdustry. The first part of our conversation was about my background in photography. Like many, being totally self taught, with no formal industry training or qualifications, I thought that maybe this was the first hurdle I would fall at. Instead, Salvio was very quick to credit me with the level I was working at. Equipment is primary factor when working at the level required, and I was already confident with the small arsenal of gear I have built up over the last few years.  As expected, in his opinion, I was geared up correctly. Obviously quality of work is vital. I had to send in 10 of my ‘best’ images for a quality assessement. With so many, It was hard to whittle them down. The quality assessment would check all the meta-data in each image to make sure that the images where orginaly sound, and not been over processed. To be fair, in sports photography, you generally are your hardest critic. If something is slightly out of focus, even if it is the killer shot, you have to bin it! A few acceptable tweaks in exposure/lights/darks/colour and croppng is generally all it takes.

I sent these off after our conversation. It would be a couple of days before I heard back from Salvio. He, and another Director, Ken, had been over them, and were very satisfied with what they had seen. (Phew!) We had a further conversation about how things would work. What the expectations would be. It was made quite clear that it wouldn’t be a case of making a living over night, but the experiences that this would bring, and to get in on the industry at this level, shooting anything from Premiership to non-league football, International and club Rugby, Athletics, Golf, Cricket, and anything else that I felt would be worth covering for the national papers (Storm the Castle??) All this sounded right up my alley.

The next stage would be to apply for a Dataco Licence. This wouldn’t be my own Licence, but I would work under the Agencys Licence. There are very strict guidelines with this, and a lengthy document to sign as to agree with it all. Basically, any image I take at a sporting event while I’m working for Uk Sports Pics is not owned by me, but by UK Sports Pics. I am unable to reproduce them in any form, unless displayed with the companys watermark attached. But the upside is, that if any image is ever used in any shape or form by anybody else, I will be entitld to a payment!

Paperwork signed and  sent off.  The processed to get me into the DataCo system begins, but unfortunately not in time to get me somewhere for the next available weekend! I had to look into my diary to see what I was to be covering already.  I have a few Afc Ludlow games, and Kidderminster Harriers games penciled in for the next month or so. So, unforunately, I had to scrub these dates. Once confirmation is given as to me being in the DataCo System (required for being booked into games), I have my first fixture arranged. I wanted to stay as local as I could. It will be a new way of working for me, and a bit more pressure to that which I am used to. I go for the next Shrewsbury Town home fixture. This is where it will start. Working for a Sports Photo Agency. The pressure to get images sent from pitch side as the game goes on, whilst not missing the action that may break out on the pitch at any moment. Ingest, Edit, Caption, Upload, Repeat, and that’s after all the necessary preparations with both my equipment, and the software and .xmp files that have to be loaded for each fixture.

In the next installment I shall give an insight into this process, and to the editing that I do, the captioning process, and uploading to it’s destination, and the final gallery.

 

untitled-5

 

National League Football

Posted on November 5, 2015 by Darren under Kidderminster Harriers, Sports Event
Leave a comment

It’s a while since I have managed to set aside an hour or so to add to my blog, but thought I’d use this morning that I have to myself, to update.

Primarily, my time has been taken up photographing lots of football as of late. I always enjoy going down to see my local side Afc Ludlow play, and love taking images of game down there. It’s an added bonus that they are simply blasting everyone away. The football is scintilating at times, and the results have been well deserved. If you are local to Ludlow, and you like your football, you should really make an effort to go and watch these boys. They are all local lads, and as I experienced in my playing days, you’ll always play better in front of a decent crowd. They are doing the town proud. A few quid at the gate to help pay for the facility used is a bargain!

The other games I’ve been covering are from the Vanarama National League at Kidderminster Harriers. Having applied for a Licence in the closed season, and having it granted, I really wanted to make a step up with my sports photography. This level of football presents a different challenge. The game is obviously a lot quicker, and the environment differs with stands on all four sides, cutting out light in areas of the pitch, whilst leaving other areas basking in bright sunshine, the noise of the pretty decent crowds, and the odd flying football during the warm ups, arriving at considerable pace and force!

My first outing to Aggborough started with planning early in the week. Making contact with the club was no problem. Giving them my Licence number, and advising them I’d like to cover the game was all that was needed. There isn’t a need for them to know why you want to come, what you will be doing with your work as it’s not really their concern. Just as long as you have a licence, then you have the crudentials to enter the stadium and go pitchside.

A look at the opposition that the Harriers were playing, it was the then Top of the Table, and unbeaten Forest Green Rovers. Kidderminster, languishing right at the bottom, there was a possibility for a few goals! A browse through the playing staff didn’t reveal anything beyond the normal, although the very experienced Jon Parkin would be a menace, a big burley centre forward thats been on the lower league football circuit for years, and scored plenty of goals. Harriers themselves having a very young, inexperienced side explained their current position.

So, Friday night, check and double check all the equipment, format all memory cards, charge all batteries. I use the Photomechanic program for captioning pictures from pitch side, and I must admit that’s a learning curve in itslef. At the time of writing this, I have got to gripse with it, but on this first game at Aggborough, I would be attempting to use it live for the first time, after a rough introduction to it down at Afc Ludlow. Checking the Harriers, and Forest Green Rovers websites and Twitter feeds for any latest news, signing etc, just to be sure I was up to date with things.

I received an email from the Communications Manager on the Friday evening. I was half expecting the news that there’s been a change in plans. I was pleasantly surprised however to hear (or read) that they wanted to see  if I could get a few Images of certain players, So, after a bit of a conversation, an agreement was made, a small list of players, and  type of images was created, and I now had an extra task for the day which was great for me.

I arrived at Aggborough at about 1:30pm, 90mins before kick-off. The South Car Park attendant had my name on the list for a parking space, and I was in! It was an unseasonally warm and sunny day. After parking up, I took one of my cameras out, and took a walk around the outside of the ground, to get a few Images, just to get a feel for the day. Being early, there wasn’t much in the way of fans loitering about, which was a shame as they would have made for some nice photo’s.

 

The way into the ground was via the main Suite entrance, the same as all the other official visitors for the day, including the players. At the desk, I was met by the Official, and signed in, received Media pass, and a complimentary copy of the match day program. Pitchside was up a small flight of stairs and out into the stand looking over the pitch. It always brings back that feeling as a young boy when I first visited a football stadium, coming out into the stand, and there, basking in the sunlight, saturated in green, the pitch with brilliant white markings.

The ground naturally, is earily quiet at this time, one or two ultra keen fans are on the scene, the stewards in place, program sellers, vendors and a few other photographers. I thought it would a nice idea to have a chat with one or two of the other guys there with their gear, but naturally, some are quite cagey to reveal a great deal as to why they are there! I find it a bit weired that other photographers get a bit suspicious of other each other, that don’t like to engage. I know it’s deemed as a bit of an insular pass time, but with a common interest in both photo’s and football there’s plenty to talk about. I did manage to meet the guy who was shooting for the away team. He liked to talk, so we spent a small while exchanging notes and experiences. They’re not all bad really. One thing I did notice, by comparison I was carrying a lot of gear. Or maybe I just have a lot of gear in comparison.

My aim for the day was to set up in my prefered area, behind the goal, and to the left. It’s not a place I limit myself to, but I like to look right up the pitch, to see the action coming towards me, and to be in a possibly winning spot for any goal celebrations.

A chance for some more pre game pitch images, with notably a bit more cloud covering, and very welcomed it was too.

 

Once I’d settled in place, I had no intention of moving. I noticed the other Photographers, (about 4 of them) did move around to different areas as the game went on. Maybe that’s why they had less gear, or maybe having less gear meant that they were free’er to move about. I don’t know, but sitting tight is my preference. I was grateful that the rain held off for the duration of the afternoon.

The process from there on was for some warm up images, then standard action images, goal image if possible. That is always the luck of the draw. At which end the goal went in, whether or not you have a clear site of the goal. Then the celebration, again relying on lady luck here. Line of sight being clear. At which end they score, do they run to your side, or away from you meaning pictures of disappearng backsides!

With the game going on, and trying to find a spell where  it goes quiet, it’s an opportunity to do some edits and get them out there. As I take photo’s of the action, particulalry in a burst mode, it’s a case of finding the quit spell, or when the ball is out of play, or a player getting treated to quickly see what you’ve taken. You generally know what you’ve got, so it’s a case of going back through them and finding the ‘keepers’. I scroll through them, and ‘lock’ the ones I then want to upload onto the laptop for editing. It’s a process that quickens every time you do it, but always keeping one eye and ear on the action. By the nature of the game, something can happen in an instant, and to miss a key moment (which I do, regularly!!) is very frustrating. So, I use multiple memory cards so that each camera (I use 2 bodies) has always got a memory card in it. Once a memory card is placed into the card reader it will ‘injest’ the locked images into the Photomechanic software. From here the image can be quickly edited with basic cropping, brightening/darkening or exposure changes to suit. The caption can be added, ie, whats happening in the picture, who it is etc, and then saved and uploaded to whatever destination the job requires. Currently, I upload to social media, so that Kidderminster Harriers media guys can share/promote etc the game. I also upload to my website and make these availabe instantly to the Publication industry. The regional papers of both the clubs in question, and of course the other club playing has an option then too. But in all likelihood, their own guy is usually covering on their behalf, although I’ve only ever seen one other chap editing pitch side at my visits to Aggborough. I’ve had varying success, so at least the process is working.

Half time is an opportunity to get all the images that have been locked uploaded from the memory card. Get as many of these edited, and uploaded before the second half commences. Then repeat the process for the second half. It’s quite amazing, that even though you are zoomed into the action throughout the 90 minutes of the match, you don’t actually ‘see’ the game. Your mind tends to work very differently as you are tasked with a few things, than simple being a spectator of the event. The 90 minutes passes very quickly. At full time, I repeat what I did at Half time. This allows time for the crowd to disperse, and the car park to empty. The players usually come out for a warm down session, and I’ll have one or two asked if I got the goal or something.

The last thing I will do is check all the images later at home on the PC, and make an Album for the Club to view. As I said before, we are working together and they like to see the final edits before they go public. They currently use images for their stock, website, news features, Matchday Program and the like. So, It’s going well. It’s great to meet people along the way. I’ve covered a number of games for them, and had a miserable day away at Stourbridge, when not only did they have the lowest of low points by getting beaten 3-0, it was a very soggy, wet miserable day. I met a handful of photographers that do the rounds, and it was good to meet some chaps that were quite open about things, although I couldn’t add much to the conversation as I haven’t been doing this for as long as these guys. I’ve used my remote Behind the Goal set up in recent games, but I’ll save that for another day. I’ll finish with a few images from the most recent games I’ve attended for Kidderminster Harriers, and I look forward to my next game, not to forget my next game down at the formidable Afc Ludlow.

  

Summer’s Out

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Darren under Wildlife
Leave a comment

Well, lets be honest, I don’t think summer actually came in. I did make the effort however, to drag myself out of bed and try and enjoy some of the fresh early mornings the time of year allows.

I had planned to try and capture a bit of early morning wildlife. My main aim was to find the Kingfisher(s) that frequent the river Teme in Ludlow. There are two seperate areas that they seem to  show up. One by the Breadwalk weir, and one further down stream at the Temeside weir.

Throughout the summer months, I got up  for 4am(ish), made my way to either of these areas, set myself up, and in place for about 5am (ish). I’d give it a good 3 hours or so in the hope that the elusive blue feathered little fella would come close enough to me to be able to take a photo that would give the fine bird the justice it deserved. Alas, all my efforts throughout the summer months yeilded zero fruit! I have numerous images taken from a distance, but once cropped in, the picture just does not look how I had hoped it would, so for this season, I had to concede defeat on that front. I have been asked why I didn’t take myself off to a nature reserve where they have ready made hides in order to capture the required photo’s. To me, that just doesn’t have the same air of excitment to it. Going to a set up where it is ‘handed on a plate’ to you isn’t quite the same as capturing it in it’s natural habitat, knowing that anything you get is through your own hard work and endevours, and patience. I WILL get a decent photo of this bird one fine morning, but it didn’t happen this summer! I did enjoy the morning hussle and bussle of a river sdie nonetheless.  There seemed to be an exceedingly large number of ducks about this year, and a popular family of Swans!

Ducks (11) Ducks (13)

 

Technology where you wouldn’t expect.

Posted on August 3, 2015 by Darren under Sports Event, Training
Leave a comment

The last few months have seen a slight lull in my photographic activity. But not a total washout!

I was fortunate enough recently, to have a day working alongside Mark Warren Training and Matthew Morris Design. The Main focus for me was to capture  images of training in progress. Mainly of swimming, and then out on the track. Mark Warren is a certified Triathlon Coach and specialises in Swim Teaching.

I set out to get the required Images. A very humid environment took a little getting used to, as well as the risk of water and camera equiment getting  close to each other.

I didn’t relise that swimming was such a science. Mark Warren is very experienced in his field, and the numerous technical gizmo’s and gadgets that he brought out to assess the swimming techniques of his pupils was impressive. I was interested in how all these things worked, but had to remained focused on the reasons I was there.

The environment required a pretty high shutter speed, as it does with most of the sports I shoot. As the light was pretty average, exposures came out somewhat darker than I hoped, so a few camera setting adjustments, and I was getting what I needed. Lots of splashing, lots of water everywhere, it was inevitable that I was going to end up rather damp myself. But thankfully, the camera equipment remained dry and in tact. I was happy with what I had acheived, and got the man in his environment, doing what he does, teaching and assessing his swim pupils.

 

Mark Warren-284 Mark Warren-244 Mark Warren-465 Mark Warren-716 Mark Warren-851-2 Mark Warren-181

Just as impressive was the training outside, on the track. After the warm up routine, there was an in depth discussion about running techniques, leg movement, pace, stride pattern and the like. Again, not realising that there was so much to it at the top level.

Being back outside, and with favourable light, I was able to use the zoom lens to remain at a decent distance so as not to interfere with the training arena, or become a distraction of any sort.

The main task again was to get the man in action. There was plenty of activity, and some more gadgets and gizmo’s to aid in assessing the way and individual moves. It will be great to see the final product that Matthew Morrs design is putting together. In the meantime, if training for triathlon events and/or swimming is of interest to you, have a look at Mark Warren’s current website for more information.

Mark Warren-1218 Mark Warren-1186 Mark Warren-1076 Mark Warren-1243

 

I’ve also been working with a client locally, getting some images together for them, as they put together a brochure for the summer tourist’s, to promote their establishment.

After closing time at The Unicorn in Ludlow, I was able to set up some gear, and use some lighting techniques to try and reproduce the feeling of this old, medievil pub. The task for this job was to get images into print that really reflected the old style of this pub. Those of you that know the place, will understand the old feeling that this building has. It has a mainly wooden interior at the main bar, the floor, exposed beams, and the main focal point of the large open fire. The rear of the establishment has a restaurante, with an opening that see’s the activity of the kitchen itself.

Utilising a tripod, and a long exposure technique, I was able to obtain the images, with the correct ambience that the room offered. Slight Post processing, but nothing extreme gave us some very nice images that the owners of the pub were very pleased with.

This brochure is now readily available, you can pick one up from the tourist informtion centre. It is accompanied with some other images that the owners included, but my part was to obtain some internal images that did the place justice. I was happy with these results.

untitled-20-Edit-2 untitled-9-Edit

untitled-14 Unicorn 14

 

With a few things in the pipe line, one or two enquiries that will hopefully bear some fruit, and a bit of a trip on the horizon, coupled with the new football season on the doorstep, it could well be back to busy stations in the coming months. Keep them peeled, and hopefully be back with you soon.

 

 

Round Up- The Castle was Stormed!

Posted on May 24, 2015 by Darren under Sports Event
Leave a comment

As always, sitting down to put into text whats I’ve been up to is something that gets deferred time and time again.

The Storm the Castle event that I have been working closely with had it’s day. Lots of planning, practice, and familiarisation of the route, how the athletes would perform, and the time that the more experienced athletes would get around the course. There was a decision to use 2 photographers for this event (and maybe that didn’t end up being enough) so I was grateful to have David Woodfield Photography on board for the day. There was a need to have one photographer out in the field, covering the whole course, and one at close quarters getting the athletes at the start, during their change over from run to bike, and ultimately the finishing shots in the Castle.

So, race day arrived. It was a 5am alarm call on a Sunday morning. Then on site for 6am. The Athletes began arriving bit by bit, getting their gear together, checking, and putting their bikes together and putting everything into place meticulously checking, and re-checking everything. This presented an opportunity for some build up images. Light was still ‘poor’ from a photographers point of view, but the early cloud lifted as the morning progressed, and ultimately ended up in perfect conditions for the event as a whole.

DMP_9266-2 WFC_5042 DMP_9257 WFC_5031 WFC_5032 DMP_9256 DMP_9264 WFC_5020

The Race started petty much bang on 8:00am. The annoncement came that Start would commence in 10mins meant a dash to my starting point, while Dave would take up his position at the Start line.

Within minutes the athletes were on the course. A staggered start meant that there would’nt be a mass battle for space on the the tight course. Remembering that it was all about their time on the course, not their position. One thing that struck me was the eery silence as these men and women made their way around the course. The concentration, the purposeful breathing patterns, and glimpses at their watches showed that each athlete was definately in their own zone for this event. No laughing, no banter, no chitter chatter, just fully focused on the job in front of them.

A crowd on the Dinham bridge did bring some good cheer, some great encouragement, something that these athletes would need as the the race progressed, and as they would appear again later on, probably with much less energy in their legs.

So, my job now was to try and capture the essence of the race from the athletes point of view. The now infamous ‘Lactic Ladder’ wasn’t given that name as a joke. If you’ve ever tried walking up there, you’ll know it’s not something that you do without drawing in a lot of deep breathes, and by the time you reach the top, you feel your pulse beating throughout your body. In your head you say something like “glad I don’t do that every day”, and yet these lot would be doing it 3 times in this event.

I tried to manoeuvre myself in this area, as it was the main hub of actvity for the running section. Along with the Lactic Ladder rise, there was a long stretch along the Bread Walk that the athletes would approach from. Also, the dramatic backdrop of Ludlow Castle from Dinham Bridge. All these gave a great reflection of the environment the athletes were performing in.

DMP_9303 DMP_9325 DMP_9358 DMP_9393 DMP_9448 DMP_9421 DMP_9439 DMP_9401

My next concern was getting the leading athletes on their bikes. Once these guys had gone, I would not be seeing them again. It was important for the event organisers to get as much as possible of the leading athletes in the race environment, both running, and cycling. So, I had a plan of action! I had a ‘chauffuer’ for the day, Kara (and I thank you for your enthusiasm, and playing a vital role in the successful day from my point of view). By the powers of the latest technology, she would ring me when the leading athlete was on his way to the change over area. This would enable me to get back to the start area, jump in the car, and make our way out to the first point on the cycle route. The call came, but I could not hear the confirmaton!! My mind was telling me it must be far too early for anyone to be approaching the change over area. But, to be on the safe side,  made my way back as planned. As I did, I managed to contact my ‘eye’ who informed me it was a false alarm! Halfway between course and car, what to do!?! As I turned, amazingly the leader appeared. He was blasting this course! As it turned out, it was an opportunity to get a gret photo of him in his isolated state, steaming ahead of everyone. Shot taken, into the car, then out onto the course. A quick glance and I could see Dave doing his stuff. Thumbs up, all good!

So, I was relieved to be out ahead of the cyclists. Important to get the leaders. No sooner had we pulled over to the first stopping point I’d planned, got the gear out, the cyclists began to appear. These boys were not hear to enjoy the scenery. They were deadly serious about finishing as quick as they could.

DMP_9485 DMP_9503 DMP_9512 DMP_9523 DMP_9494 DMP_9520 DMP_9545 DMP_9542

As the front runners passed, there was a slight lull, so I ventured off to the next stopping point. The cycle route was about 2o miles. A chunk of time would be taken up at various stopping points. The aim was, again, to capture the athletes in as much of the environment as possible. There were some very seasoned riders, some very competent riders, and those that probably didnt see the saddle as their strong point. Nonetheless, all kept to the task in hand.

By this stage, the other photographer for the day, Dave, would be making his way up to the Castle grounds, and preparing himself for the finishers, that by all accounts weren’t too long away. It allowed me to get as many as I could, photographed out on the bike route.

DMP_9559 DMP_9566 DMP_9571 DMP_9652 DMP_9682 DMP_9749 DMP_9785 DMP_9818

By the time I got back to the Whitcliffe area, the second stage of the running circuit was well under way. By now, the athletes were notably, and lets not get away from it, understanably shattered! The pace had dropped, and the grit and determination to finish the event was the main focus. Many keeping a modest pace, and some now deciding a decent walk pace was the best option, which I had to concur with!

I spent a time taking photos at this stage. To me, this was the real essence of the event. The variety of abilities, ages, and reasons for doing the event were all there to see. What stood out also, was as physically gruelling, and mentally challenging this must have been, the feel good factor seemed to still be there. When passing the camera, nearly all still hade the desire to give a smile and a wave, and exchange a few words of good humour. This is something that gave me a massive amount of respect for these athletes. Each and every one deserved to get the accolades they would by finishing this event.

DMP_9930 DMP_9929 DMP_9921 DMP_9895 DMP_9894 DMP_9886 DMP_9881 DMP_9872 DMP_9871 DMP_9836 DMP_9944 DMP_9940

As the final athletes then made their way up to the Castle where the finishing line awaited them, I also made my way up. The sight of the finishing line, and the buzz of those that had finished within their anticipated time, with a renewed zest and immense satsfaction of what they had just achieved. I met up with Dave who had done a fantastic job of capturing the finish line. Before I knew it, I was ushered back outside the castle for the Junior events. These young ones now presented a new level of energy. All rearing to go. 3 Seperate race levels. As the first took off, the dust of the pathway running around the perimeter of the castle lifted itslef, and settled without a single young runner in site. These little ones meant business. It wasn’t long before they were entering the castle gates dashing to the finish line. The other 2 races were utilising the course around the Whitcliffe that would take in the Lactic Ladder. So, back down the hill to capture this group. Another set of quick pace young athletes that moved well over the terrain. All pretty much oblivious to my presence.

The event itself was a roaring success. If you took part in the race(s) you will know the toughness of this gruelling course. It was an exceptional event to be involved in at close quarters. The work and worry that takes place behind the scenes to make these things work is always more than admirble. To see it all come together and be such a success was great for Ludlow. It was so nice also to see many Ludlow people, who no longer reside in the area, make their return to partake, and support this event. I’m already looking forward to next years Storm the Castle. I reckon you should get in quick if you fancy having a go, because I think it will be back bigger and better next year.

DMP_9820 Male Winner Small Fle untitled (702 of 702) DMP_0266 DMP_0007 DMP_9962 Finishing Line DMP_9295 DMP_9950 DMP_9276 DMP_0499

As a photographer this event had it all. It had action, expression, the weather was more than favourable. There was very little time to sit and do nothing. The challenge was there. The technical side with a changing scene, a changing light, a subject that was continually on the move, and at different speeds kept me focused, and challenged. I was more than pleased with the majority of the results, and feedback has been very favourable, so I thank you for that. Well done to every Athlete that worked their socks off to get through this event, and that includes the months of training to have the fitness to face this. Well done all, and we’ll soon be seeing Storm the Castle 2016!