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Thread: Why do sports pictures..............

  1. #1

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    Why do sports pictures..............

    .... always struggle to get comments and win competitions?
    Not just here but else where on the net and in camera clubs, do they not have the impact of the slow shutter water fall or the saturated sunrise/set pictures. Is the skill of taking them under rated or is that people do know how hard they are and cannot comment on them as they feel they have no knowledge base to critic/comment on it?

    There are some really stunning sports pictures out there and I feel they just do not get the full credit they deserve on general photographic forums.
    Not a rant just be nice to get a feel of what people think.


    Which do you prefer?

    Why do sports pictures..............

    Or

    Why do sports pictures..............
    Last edited by paul17; 16th July 2012 at 07:33 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Any action shot is difficult because you have little control over the composition.

    I do see quite a few where I think something along the lines of 'OK I suppose, but what if . . .'

    But that makes the really good ones even better.

    However, unless you are in the scene, or know someone who is there, would you want to hang it on your wall? A bit like a portrait of a stranger. But landscapes, flowers, even wildlife, always looks good and interesting.

    Sports photography is always worth taking though, even if just for putting into the archives.

  3. #3

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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    It interesting because I think that within sports photography you have all the elements in there to produce dynamic and exciting pictures.

    The images you have displayed are a great capture of racing car. When you think about it it's no different from say, capturing a portrait of someone. You are taking an image of a particular subject at a particular time. The difference I guess is that your images would appeal to a specific group who have an interest in motor racing. It would probably be the same if it was a cricketer, golfer etc. Maybe, with a portrait, landscape etc. the audience is not so specific and has a wider appeal?

    For sports images I personally prefer colour to B+W as it is one of the elements of a sporting event that for me is essential.

    To maybe gain a wider audience maybe you have to look beyond just an image of a car and capture crowd/competitor reaction. Or include some detail/landscape/scenery that would make the image standout. If you check out the Sky cycling team's Gallery on their website of the Tour De France 2012 there are some stunning images on there that would give any landscape/wildlife etc. image a run for its money!!

    Cheers for now

    Gary
    Last edited by oldgreygary; 17th July 2012 at 10:37 AM.

  4. #4

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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Hi Paul,

    If you should ask for spesific comment, don't you think that may help.
    No 1 for me thanks.

  5. #5
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    I think Gary has hit the nail on the head. At least for me, and maybe for the majority segment of society, sports images even if technically brilliantly executed don't speak to me on a visceral level. The most they evoke is a momentary "that's nice, very interesting" and then my attention moves on. I suspect even judges in shows and competition have a hard time being absolutely free of innate bias and will go for images that grab the viewer on a subconscious level rather than on technical merit. We are hard wired to prefer certain compositions and subjects, the vast majority of sports images just don't fall into that area of the brain.

    That is not to say you shouldn't continue to shoot what you like. The first photographer and viewer you need to please is yourself. Then consider the wider commercial or artistic appeal. The rules of composition still apply to make the image as pleasing as possible to the viewer. However the rules of subject matter are pretty much a matter between you and your brain. Baring breaking criminal or civil laws in the production of the image. Even well composed or technically excellent child porn is an example of the type of thing society as a rule has an obligation to prevent. Otherwise shoot what you like even if the target audience is small. Hopefully it will be larger than one.

    As for these images. I prefer the first. The purple "lips" on the black and white version dominate the image to the exclusion and detriment of the remaining elements

  6. #6

    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Paul, I am going to reverse order, I like the first image best. It works better in color. While I know that Tbob, Gary and Geoff all have great points, I think action images have the same impact of the slow shutter water fall or the saturated sunrise/set pictures. You need to find the right forum/venue/viewers for your images. I took a moment and visited your flikr, that is impressive, you really have Brands Hatch down to an art. I have struggled with the same issue you have. And noticed there is a select group here in CiC that likes automobile shots.... Hence Automobile 101. Which seems to have less participants than I would like. More important to me is that I also have a second niche forum (they actually turned me on to this site ) that has been a wonderful place to exhibit my photos, and get feedback. I am a car enthusiast, and have been on many forums over the years (BMW, Chevy, Ford, Mazda, Ferrari) and I found a great jem of a site that has both Photography and car enthusiasm. I will PM ya a link if you would like.

    Ryo

  7. #7
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Personally I like sport photos, just the fact of capturing the moment of someone or thing when they are exhausting all of their effort and power to achieve their goal is amazing. Photo #1 is a very good shot. Here are a few of my own.
    Why do sports pictures..............

    Why do sports pictures..............

  8. #8
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Hi Paul!

    Naturally, I can’t answer your initial question. As to the others I feel that sports photography is indeed difficult. It is challenging. It is hugely fun.

    It is Defining Moment photography.

    Now I suppose all photography is “Defining Moment” in a manner of speaking. But maybe some subjects a little more than others.

    But I, for one, like it. I just don’t do a lot of it. At the moment. I would like for that to change, but in a way I do it in my own way.

    And I can tell you that 23,000,000 Sports Illustrated readers per week are saying something. And yes, I looked up the circulation estimates!

    I shot a band over last weekend. In no way would that be considered a sport but it is basically the same concept in a lot of ways. You need to know when the quarterback rolls left for a pass, where he is looking, who is covering, who’s about to cream him for a sack, when the drummer is going to kick the band, when the guitar solo is coming, when the vocalist is going to reach for that high note, and where to position yourself to get that awesome racing shot you posted. And you have to have your shooting gear ready for it. A lot of knowledge, experience, and luck enters the mix so that you get the sense of motion, the focus, the composition, everything that makes a great shot. All of which you nailed. That, to me, is fun. And its fun to see the results because I know what it means to get a great shot of this (or anything else for that matter)!

    So I wouldn’t have a clue about photo competitions or their relationship with sport shots.

    But I can give you a comment or two.

    I think your shots are great, Paul. Composition on the $$. Tilt: great. Shutter is just right and exposure looks good from my chair.

    I like the color and the B&W, but I am imagining the B&W without the selective coloring.

    One final comment:

    I have this same model car parked in my driveway at this very moment, except it is the station wagon/5-door hatchback version! Seats six comfortably with plenty of room for “stuff”, fold-down rear seats, and cup holders!

    But it will do 0-60 in 3 seconds and has the cool wing!
    Last edited by Loose Canon; 18th July 2012 at 03:27 AM.

  9. #9

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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    The difference I guess is that your images would appeal to a specific group who have an interest in motor racing. It would probably be the same if it was a cricketer, golfer etc. Maybe, with a portrait, landscape etc. the audience is not so specific and has a wider appeal?
    I really think Gary has nailed 90% of the reason right there. I will tell you that I admire a really well done sports shot. I even took some of them (well, sports; maybe not well done) myself back in my younger days on the sidelines of a college football field. But for a typical audience, I think that sports images just don't interest as many people as more general subjects do.

    It's something that those of us with niche interests just have to live with. I for instance am very fascinated with insects and pictures of bugs; to the point that I am often known as the bug guy. I have two published books full of bug photos, as well as magazine articles. But I only occasionally post bug pictures on general sites like this, because I know that most other folks don't feel the same way about that subject as I do. Now, if I go to a forum dedicated to macro photography, say, or to fly fishing (fly fishers love bugs), then it's a whole different story.

    Don't give up posting what interests you here, though. You just might find some kindred souls.

  10. #10

    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    I'm with gary. I like sports shots but I also like sport. Oddly the shots I like best are of the sports I like best

    On the flip side I simply don't get flower shots. I look at them, I appreciate the skill that went into capturing them, but they just don't interest me.

  11. #11

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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Paul, you sound frustrated I've never done any auto racing photography, but I do love to shoot sports. I think there's quite an adrenalin rush that goes along with it, too.

    Perhaps people don't comment as they are not familiar enough with the sport to phrase a reply? It's not like a portrait, where one can talk about cloning out distracting items or smoothing out the skin tones. Since it's more photo-journalism/editorial work than anything, sometimes there isn't a whole lot to say, but I think people do look and appreciate what's been captured. I will go to Flickr and look for sports shots just to see what others have caught. I'll also look through sports magazines while waiting to have my hair done. Not the articles, mind you; just the photos. (Sorry to those who write!) As for competitions, maybe because there is more of the landscape/portrait/still life type of work presented, that is what one might start to think belongs there? That could be totally wrong; just a hypothesis.

    As for your photos, I like the reality of the colour. The light seems to create an even better glint and all the decals pop with colour. Now, here's a question: Does the track slope or do photographers make the angle to create the aura of speed? Speaking of which, I like that your shutter speed allowed for a bit of tire blurring.

  12. #12
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Hi Paul,

    Here's my take on commenting, not covered by anyone else yet (which surprised me a bit with so many replies), perhaps Terry got closest with the "defining moments" idea.

    Is the skill of taking them under rated or is that people do know how hard they are and cannot comment on them as they feel they have no knowledge base to critic/comment on it?
    For me, the thing with Sports photos is that they are, by their very nature, both documentary in nature and also "millisecond time critical, unrepeatable moment" shots.

    This kind of limits what anyone can helpfully say about them - there's little point in us saying; "that's a busy background" because you have little control. Same applies if we said "the cars should have been a few feet further apart" - we know that is beyond your control, both this time and next time, so there's no point in commenting like that.

    Your shot is pretty good, I could say it would be better if taken a fraction earlier, before the black car was in front of the black barrier bit, but if the lead car on that corner is green (causing it merge with the grass), I'd have to say the opposite

    Do you see where I'm coming from? The same advice, if followed next time, might not apply or just becomes too complex to give


    Further, I might suggest David's shots have too much Depth of Field and the background is too sharp, but if he's only got that 55-200mm, f/5.6 as a telephoto lens, and the action happens just a few feet from the far side of the field's background, it is beyond his control. No doubt if the action had happened much closer to him, he would have shot wider than 200mm and might have got f/4, which combined with a clearer and more distant spectator background, would have been fine. David, like me, may not be able to justify/afford the purchase of a 70-200 f/2.8 lens

    Anyway, that's why I rarely comment on sports shots, simply because I do appreciate how hard it is and even if I feel "qualified", I know there is soooo much you cannot control - it is purely down to 'lady luck' and/or having loads of money to throw at our hobby.

    If anyone has specific queries on their picture(s), they should voice them when posting - here is Frank's guide to attracting helpful comments.
    How to Get Effective Feedback for your Posted Images
    Just as you did with the two versions of the first shot and yes, my vote goes to the full colour one too

    To finish up; All three shots here could 'improved' a little - if sufficient time is spent in PP cloning out and/or blurring some of the background distractions, but there's a limit to what can be achieved and the action has to justify that time, in these it probably doesn't, but if the car were on two wheels, or we could see the player's faces, the shots might be worth that extra effort and then I would say so.

    Hope that helps,

  13. #13
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Paul, I like the first picture. a little dark but its Nice.
    Dont worry, I felt the way that sports pictures are under appreciated sometimes. we all get that too SOMETIMES.
    Sports photography needs skill to master, maybe thats why people dont appreciate it because of it being so hard.
    I do sports, I'm doing my best. I'm sure your doing your best too.
    Remember, take time and practice, these pictures are wonderful. I know sports is always appreciated. Especially in the newspaper. Thats the only part I read the most because of the amazing shots.

  14. #14

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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Quote Originally Posted by Maritimer1 View Post
    Paul, you sound frustrated

    Now, here's a question: Does the track slope or do photographers make the angle to create the aura of speed?
    Tilting the camera makes a better impact, but you have to make sure it is the right way round to suit the camber of the track at that point.

    Thank you all for comments

  15. #15
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    I've done quite a bit of motor racing photography. The main problem commercial sports photographers have is that they often work to tight deadlines, so the shot you see in the paper is often put out in a rush because these guys need to be out there first in the queue. A sports editor doesn't want to wait for a whole lot of PP. People are inundated with sports images every day so most people don't see any artisitic merit in this genre. The perception is that you were there and took a photo, so what!

    The other thing is that whenever I go to a meeting there are plenty of photographers there. Plenty of images of the same thing get put out. This means that unless you produce an image that stands out from the crowd nobody is going to see your photo. You also need the right equipment. There is a reason that professional sports photographers almost invariably use a 400m f2.8 lens on a top end camera. I can tell you from experience that the difference between the money shot and all the rest can literally be 100th's of a second.

    The secret in getting an excellent sports image is planning ahead, putting yourself in the right spot, take a few test images and then hope like hell that you get lucky. Like everything else in life the harder you work at it the luckier you seem to get.

  16. #16
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Quote Originally Posted by paul17 View Post
    Thank you all for comments
    Hi again Paul,

    I had another ruminate on this overnight and driving to work this morning - I guess that in some cases, it may help to say why a photo works too, so that those aspeects can be repeated next time.

    Cheers,

  17. #17
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Hi Paul, I prefer the first one.
    To answer your question about why sunsets instead of photos like this? I think to really like a photo like this, you have to be moved or connected to it. In your photo, this is a relatively small group of people. On the other hand, nearly everyone appreciates a spectacular sunset - the target audience is much bigger.
    Just my thoughts.

  18. #18
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    Re: Why do sports pictures..............

    Hi Paul, my nearest & dearest looks at a sports image I am proud of & he often asks "who is it" - frankly I dont care if it has met the criteria for a great image of that sport - but maybe that comment goes to what others have said - we respond to what we know, he wants to relate to what the picture is about - everyone knows landscapes & sports shots of athletes people like them if they know the athlete...
    I had a play with a couple of equestrian pics, I hope you done mind me adding them to the thread.... also maybe its as sport is such a huge field, I love it, it's what i do a lot of & yet have no idea about & would not be able to critique someone else's motorsports images...

    & at least my husband would be happy with these, as I know the subjects..

    Why do sports pictures..............

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