It’s All In The Hips

Saturday morning marked the start of my 2014 golfing journey, i’ve not played much over the last few months but i’m determined to pick it back up this year and try to bring that handicap down… Thankfully the weather was great and the course was playing really well. I play at Weybrook Park which is in excellent condition year round despite large amounts of rain.

Plenty of golfers will tell you that the first tee shot sets the mood for the rest of the round, thankfully mine didn’t, it’s the first shot i’ve hit in about 5 weeks and ended up going through a hedge and out of bounds. After that i didn’t embarrass myself again and managed to hit some half decent shots which i was pretty pleased with.

Some of you may have seen my holiday photos from when i visited Dubai late last year and may have noticed that i got to spend a morning at the final event of the European Tour, where the best golfers from the season battle it out to claim the ‘Race to Dubai’ title along with a decent amount of cash. Cameras weren’t allowed on the course itself but you were given free roam on the practice ground and the driving range which was great and i managed to get some pretty good pictures of some very famous golfers. Since that morning i’ve really wanted to get out and have some more practice at sports photography and golf in particular.

So after our round of golf on Saturday morning, my friend and work colleague Matt, who regularly beats me at golf, let me take some shots of him on the range. I had a couple ideas of photos that i wanted to take and techniques that i wanted to try out, so i took a whole bunch of pictures with various lenses to see what worked best.  I’ll talk you through some of my favourite pictures below.

I try to picture an image in my head before taking it, that way i’ve got something to work towards. In this instance i wanted to get a shot of Matt at the end of a driver swing, with the tee still in the air and the golf ball still visible. I took this shot with my 10-24mm lens to give it a wide angle feel, i captured the tee perfectly which i’m sure you can see in the picture. The ball is also visible, see it?

I’ve had to crop the picture a little to make the composition better, but thats to be expected with this sort of action shot. i wanted to make sure i got all of Matt in the frame. I didn’t want to make the mistake of trying to get too tight and then missing the clubhead or shadow.  From my experience in Dubai i knew that i was going to need a very fast shutter speed, thankfully there was plenty of light on Saturday and this allowed me to shoot at a speed of 1/6400th of a second. In order to get a good exposure i kept the aperture at f/5 and the ISO at 640, the focal length was 13mm.

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After hitting the driver, Matt pulled a Pitching Wedge out of the bag and hit a couple shots with that. I decided that for my next photo i wanted to get a high impact portrait, so decided to use my 70-300mm lens which can create a great effect in this sort of situation. On reflection i think the settings i used for this were wrong. There’s very little movement from either Matt or his club in this picture so i should have kept the ISO really low and used a slower shutter speed to make the image sharper and maybe even tried to get a better depth of field as the clubhead is slightly out of focus.

This is something i need to practice, i want to get to the stage where i can change settings on my camera much faster and react to situations quickly without even needing to look at the camera, that’s why i’m trying to get practice like this, so i don’t make a novice mistake when pointing the camera at Tiger Woods one day. Camera settings in this image are 200mm, f/5, ISO 640 with a shutter speed of 1/3200th of a second.  I’ve boosted the clarity a little and increased the shadows so you can see more of Matts face.

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Next up i wanted to get a nice picture just after the moment the clubhead strikes the turf. This isn’t a particularly tricky shot once you’ve got the right settings, it’s more about timing. I think i pulled it off great and it’s a strong contender for the best image out of the bunch. The one thing that lets it down is the background, unfortunately the shots don’t look too authentic because we’re on a driving range. i can imagine how good this shot would look if Matt was aiming down a tree lined fairway or over a lake to a well guarded green in the distance.  My camera was set up to an ISO of 800, aperture of f/5.6, focal length of 70mm and a shutter of 1/5000th because i wanted to capture the dirt as still as possible.

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The final image is of Matt getting some greenside bunker practice, again, this was all about timing, i really wanted to get plenty of sand in the shot and have the ball far enough away from Matt to give you can idea of the shot he was playing. When i saw the picture after i was really pleased with it but felt that it didn’t have the impact i wanted. When you look at the picture i want you to notice Matt, then the ball and then the sand. When i looked at it i couldn’t help but be drawn to the vast amount of grass and green in the background which for me reduced the impact of the picture. i decided to desaturate all of the green in the image to make Matt stand out more, i think it worked pretty well but appreciate this type of colour treatment might not be to everyones taste. Settings are ISO 800, 220mm, f/5.6 and 1/4000th of a second.

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A big thanks to Matt and as always, hope you liked the pictures.

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