Monday, May 17, 2010

Behind the Scenes @ the Mt SAC Relays

How hard can it be to follow someone around with your camera? That was my task last month at the Mt. SAC Relays. I was invited by The Britney Henry Project to document Britney Henry throwing the hammer at this international competition. All I had to do was photograph her day. It was tougher than I thought it would be.

First off, it was sunny and hazy which made for a really bright sky and ground, not the most ideal light to shoot in. Then there are all the specifics with shooting sports photography, like fast shutter speed to freeze motion, positioning yourself properly for the action (which includes staying out of the way of fans and out of harms way), and plain ol' luck to get "the shot". All the above factored in to make for a challenging shoot for me.

The hardest part was worrying about Britney's personal space. When someone is in the midst of getting their game face on, you don't want to break that focus by being a nuisance. I think some of the more engaging shots would have been when she was mentally preparing herself for her throws. But, I was too timid to get in her space to capture them. I shoot with a 24-70mm lens which requires that I'm up in your face; and I wasn't comfortable with that. I would have preferred a longer lens. But, hey! No new toys until I get a little better!

I mentioned positioning being a concern. When we first arrived on the scene, I cruised right up to the hammer ring, got on my tummy, and put the lens right under the woven safety net. Prime location, out of the way of viewers and close to the action. I did a couple test shots to get my shutter speed down, then stepped back to wait for Britney. During the down time, I had the opportunity to watch hammer throw technique and movement to see how I might approach shooting. I was brought out of my mental banter by a loud *BOOOooNG*- the sound of someone throwing a foul and hitting the very pole I had my head next to. My head could have been there! I had to rethink my location. Who am I kidding? I went back to the same spot to photograph my cousin, this time with my head placed a little more behind the pole. The sacrifices I make! ; )

I'm thrilled to be working with The Britney Henry Project. The collaboration of artists shows her journey toward her goal of making the U.S. Olympic Team. I'm honored to be able to support her in such a unique way. I just hope I can get more shots of her being amazing.

Andrei Booriakan taking some footage of Britney's warm-up.

Graham Smith working that angle to get the shot.

Dawn Vitale securing the gear. We sure did have alot!

Shenandoah helped measure the throws. She was wonderful to allow us in her space to do our thing.

Britney getting ready for a warm-up throw.

Good thing Andrei is limber.

Britney focusing for a competition throw.

Britney's hammer was the easiest shot of the day. It was in the shade and stationary.

More on this story can be found @ Teresa's Photo Blog.

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