New Olympic Test Event Series

The next of the Olympic Test Event series is now well underway. The past week has seen the boxing, fencing and table-tennis events running in London’s Excel Centre, their home next year when the Games start.

The Table Tennis test was performed us part of the ITTF Table Tennis Tour and saw most of the world’s leading players, and of course the main contenders for next years medal. The Chinese continue to dominate the world table-tennis scene and an amazing men’s semi finals between the world’s # 1 and 2 proved to me that the table tennis I play is nothing like the game played at the highest level!

Unfortunately the lighting was not the same as that to be used during the Olympics and left a little to be desired. I found myself shooting at between 3200 and 6400 ISO to get anything close to the shutter speed required to freeze the action.

 

Long MA (CHN) the world #1, competes against Hao WANG (CHN) the world #2, during the ITTF Table Tennis Tour Grand Finals, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011. Long Ma went on to win the tournament beating Zhang Jike in the final.

Long MA (CHN) the world #1, competes against Hao WANG (CHN) the world #2, during the ITTF Table Tennis Tour Grand Finals, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011. Long Ma went on to win the tournament beating Zhang Jike in the final.

Nikon D3s, 80-200 f2.8 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 145mm, 1/1000th @ f2.8, ISO 5000, exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.
The high resolution output files all ran through Nose Ninja to help reduce the digital noise

The fencing provided some wonderful creative opportunities, especially during the finals on the main piste. The whole arena has ‘theatre style’ lighting meaning that the playing area is brightly lit while the surroundings are in almost complete darkness. I started by shoting some regular sports photos of the fencers in action.

Erwan Le Pechoux (FRA) [left] v Keith COOK (GBR)

Nikon D3, 80-200 f2.8 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 165mm, 1/1000th @ f3.5, ISO 2000, exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.

Looking for something different I set my D3 to multiple exposure mode capturing 4 consecutive images  on the same frame. Having the theatrical lighting really adds to this affect. The main trick is to ensure you keep the camera as still as possible during the exposure and resist the temptation to move the lens to try and keep the subject centred. Just hold the button down and let the action do the moving. Ideally one would use a tripod but that’s nearly impossible when shooting sport from crowded photo ares. As the shot below demonstrates it is possible to handhold this type of photo but you do need a fast shutter speed.

Marcel MARCILLOUX (FRA) [left] v Husayn ROSOWSKY (GBR) [right] during the men's foil competition at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011.

Marcel MARCILLOUX (FRA) [left] v Husayn ROSOWSKY (GBR) [right] during the men’s foil competition at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011.

Nikon D3, 80-200 f2.8 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 86mm, 1/1000th @ f3.5, ISO 2000, multiple exposure turned on and set to 4 frames. Exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.

Finally I headed down to the Boxing Hall. This was not taking place in the hall that will be used at Games time so was really more of a test for the technical and sports people than for our photo positions.

Boxing is not one of my favourite sports to photograph, in fact it’s not one of my favourite sports period. In fact I find it’s actually a difficult sport to create great images especially amateur boxing.

Con SHEAHAN (IRL) [red] v Lazaridis EUGENIOS (GRE) [blue] during the men's super heavyweight final at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre,  London, England November 27, 2011. Sheahan went on to win the title.

Con SHEAHAN (IRL) [red] v Lazaridis EUGENIOS (GRE) [blue] during the men’s super heavyweight final at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011. Sheahan went on to win the title.

Nikon D3s, 200-400 f4 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 380mm, 1/800th @ f4, ISO 2500. Exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.

You may have noticed that in all the above images I chose to use manual exposure. This is because the lighting in each of these sports presented particular challenges, especially as the backgrounds were lit considerably differently to the field of play. This can easily cause erroneous exposures, (especially at the fencing with that black background). However the lighting on the filed of play was completely consistent so, after shooting a few test exposures and checking the histogram, I was able to hit the exposure dead on.