Keeping my focus
This weekend, Linda and I are travelling to Birmingham.
Arena Birmingham is the venue for the British Athletics Indoor Championships and I am proud to have received accreditation to photograph the event. It is not that long ago that I started out on my journey, photographing Banstead Woods parkrun.
My first DSLR was a Canon 30D bought on eBay with a kit lens for around £190. It took a while to get used to the sophistication of the camera, however, I really enjoyed the rekindling of my interest in photography that had been born when I was a young boy. Don Esslemont, a very accomplished photographer, helped me immensely in those early stages at parkrun where I learned a lot about taking photographs of people moving.
Having been a runner in my youth, this was a great way to reconnect with a sport that had taken up so much of my teenage years. It gave me a renewed enthusiasm for my sport. It gave me a 'focus' and determination to improve. Many parkrun events followed and I also tried photographing other sports, including hang gliding!
Understanding how my camera worked gave rise to an improvement in the quality of my images. Trying different settings and having the confidence to make mistakes and learn from them has been crucial to that improvement. I decided I needed further guidance and enrolled on a photography day with award-winning photographer Mark Pain.
We shot at Wembley Stadium on the day that Saracens and Harlequins went head-to-head in their 'Derby Day' match. What an experience! I certainly learnt a lot that day about how fast rugby is at that level. No sooner had I focused than the play was already 20 metres further on. I did manage to get some decent shots. More practice was needed!
My camera body had now changed to a Canon 7D mark I, which is a semi-pro body designed for sports photography. A camera doth not make the photographer however. You can take amazing images using a camera phone. The technique needed and the composition required are what I had to refine and improve. The camera did help with capturing high speed action.
2016 was a pivotal year for me as I was striving again to improve and challenge myself. Higher standard events had become my mantra. I wanted to try photographing football and managed to get along to two Womens Super League matches featuring Chelsea Ladies FC. In September 2016, I became the official club photographer of Dorking Wanderers FC. I must thank Kris Lea for the faith he showed in me and for the huge welcome I got from all at the club! 'The Wanderers' has become yet another 'home' for me and Linda.
2016 also saw me capture a sub 4 minute mile at the famous Iffley Road track in Oxford. This was the track where Sir Roger Bannister broke the 4 minutes for the mile barrier back in 1954. On the day I was there, for a British Milers Club event, Andy Baddeley broke the 4 minute barrier in his first win for a number of years. It was a great moment. I also had the pleasure of meeting David Lowes, an England Athletic coach and National Secretary of the BMC.
Parliament Hill in May 2017 was a massive event for me. Ben Pochee agreed for me to capture images of the impressive 'Night of the 10,000m PB's'. What an event! It gave me a platform to showcase what I had learned so far and the opportunity to capture images of top athletes. I must have done a good job as Ben has appointed me official photographer for this year's event which incorporates the European Cup team 10,000m event.
I managed to get along to some British Athletics League and Southern Athletics League meetings and a couple of BMC meets. This was adding to my experience and gave me plenty opportunities to hone my skills - a task that truly is ongoing and will always be that way. My camera bodies are now the excellent Canon 1DX mark I and the Canon 5D mark III. Lenses are all f/2.8 or wider.
Shooting indoor sport is a challenge, however, it is one that I relish. Two major Pole Vault events gave me that opportunity and I have to thank Allan Williams for that. Allan was an international pole vaulter back in the 1970's and is also a World Masters champion. We have become good friends and Al is such a motivator to pole vaulters and supporters alike!
To today. On the eve of my latest event, I can reflect on the road I have travelled. There are many people who have given me encouragement and support and advice. I thank you all. However, the journey does not end here. This weekend is a stepping stone and one I am looking forward to.
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