I've never photographed boxing before but for the last few weeks I've been shooting the training for a Charity White Collar Boxing Event in aid of Spinal Injuries Ireland & The Robert Kenny Fund.
The first time shooting was difficult, I didn't know the environment I'd be shooting in before I got there. For some reason I had this picture in my head and I didn't think it would differ much. Obviously I was wrong because light was non-existent for the camera to capture. A good note to take away from this is always ask the client what the location looks like and try go there either earlier than required to test shoot or at a different time entirely if possible. The only light I had at my disposable was two outdoor lights on either side of the group.
The Process When Shooting
I was shooting in low light, couldn't use flash as folks were training, didn't need to distract them. Always go into a job with an idea of how you want the photos to come out. You have to think about your post-production at least at the start of the shoot then worry about the shooting once you have an idea in mind. My thought for these training sessions were gritty, contrasted, very deep on the shadows. I got even more of that than I wanted. I had to shoot the highest ISO available, with shutter speed on about 1/200th of a second, whereas I wanted to shoot on about 1/400th of a second ideally. My aperture was on 3.5 usually. The result meant that noise was more of a problem than a choice. I quickly identified that if I shoot standing directly under these lights or shooting into them so there's a slight bit of flare I'd get a better exposed image.
At Least You Know For Next Time
Of course I still had to keep moving around. You can't get all the shots you need standing in four of the same positions. The above images are from my first time around, the left is directly in line with one of the lights attached to the wall, you can see the lens flare, noise isn't an issue in this. The image on the right however is the furthermost point away from the light sources and noise is a large problem. I made it work in my favour, with some noise reduction and working with the exposure and contrast I came out with images that are usable and do represent the feeling of adrenaline and exhaustion in the training. The colour temp was also an issue I found no preset in-camera that was true to the colours so I manually had to gauge the colour temp in Adobe Lightroom afterwards.
One thing I wasn't thinking of, shooting in low light, take your damn filter off! I always shoot with a UV filter on or something similar, it balances your exposure and I also like them on in case of an accident and the lens goes for a hop. I hadn't shot a fast-passed activity without flash in a long while and completely did not take this into consideration until I was tidying up my kit at home when it dawned on me. Always before a job, sit down and think what you need or don't need with you.
If at first you kind of screw up, just make sure you try and screw up well like I did. The next time it was much more fluid, I knew the light situation and I took my filters off my lens so I had a quicker shutter speed. I tested out the first time around on different lens, 35mm, 24-110mm and 70-300mm (for tight shots). I've decided that two lens I preferred to use for the job is 35mm as it's a classic reportage lens focus and I enjoy working in 35mm framing. I also use a 24-70mm lens that I tried after the first shoot to able to get a better range.
A side note 24-70mm is a do-all shoot-all workhorse range if you have a Canon camera there's two models to be looking at, the Tamron and Canon. I own the Tamron, it's cheaper and there's very little different as far as I could deduct. The Tamron also has image stabilization which my shaky hands definitely needs and the Canon just doesn't hold up on a lot of counts. Check out actual reviews online you'll see what I mean. Lastly when shooting something like boxing, when it doubt just snap continuously, after fifteen minutes you'll be in a rhythm and will be able to anticipate the potential shots better and in sports that's what you need to be able to do.
Just a small selection above of more formal portraits of some the boxers. I had them stand so there was a lot of space in the background to get more depth and to ensure the portraits weren't going to come out as angry mugshots. The boxers had varying poses and heights, I originally wanted to try and have all the portraits uniform. However they were shot quickly with a Speedlite flash attached to the camera and no use of a tripod. In the field your plans and ideas won't always work. The sign of a good photographer I think is to work their ability to think on their feet and action out new ideas quickly.
If you're interested in supporting the event which takes place on 25th November or to look at the hoard of shots I produced so far you can go here. I'll be shooting at the actual event so there will be a Part Two towards the end of November.
Sidetrack For A Sec (Or Maybe Longer)
This marks the first blog post on Day 3033 that isn't a Throwback Thursday. My apologies for that, I was getting wrapped up in the #TBT because I was getting good feedback on them. Those posts have now been pushed to the first Thursday of the month. I finally remembered Day 3033's tagline is "becoming a professional photographer...again". How am I supposed to convey this journey when all I seem to do is take time to trawl through my archive for old shoots that might be of interest to you?
I think it's a vital part of this blog still. It's important to go through your archive every now and then to see where your skill and technique was at 2 years ago or even 2 months ago. As we grow older on a physical level our eyes change (I need glasses now) and our minds change, we think differently usually because we're more educated about the world or a topic or skill like photography. For example my day job has taught me to be really analytical and much more technical in how tasks are carried out, that's helped and seen in my photography or how I handle business.
The more we photograph the better our skill and photographic eye develops I'm pretty sure that's fact. I find it a good confidence boost too looking through your archive, you can see how subjectively better you are now as opposed to before. As well photographing is of course about capturing memories so perhaps on an old job you learned a lesson you've since forgotten. That being said it's better idea to write these down though under a notes tab on your phone entitled "Lessons I've learned that I really should remember", that's what I do anyway.