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Photographing Bowls

Photographing Bowls - It might not be everyone's cup of tea but it's an easily accessible sport if you want to practice your photography.

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Sports and Action

Bowls may be a sport more associated with those who have reached retirement age but it's a popular sport and nearly all towns have at least one bowling green making it an easily accessible sport for a photographer. Just remember it's always polite to ask if people mind you taking a few photographs even if they are playing in a park which has public access.


As you can't get on the green you'll need a lens with a longer focal length to bring the game to you. Try taking a compact zoom lens along so you can get in among the bowls or use a shorter focal length for areas of the grounds you can reach. A wide angle lens would also be handy for getting the green and grounds in shot. Take your monopod instead of your tripod to give yourself more freedom when moving position and pack a fold up seat or stool so you can have a seat while decisions on the green are made.

The action on the green may not be as quick as some sports but it's still worth capturing for stock sites, bowls clubs or just for your portfolio. As players take it in turns to deliver their bowls from a mat at one end of the green towards the jack at the other end position yourself to the side of the player who's bowling as this will give you the chance to capture and freeze the bowler's movement. Also, as it's not a particularly fast sport you won't be needing fast shutter speeds to capture action shots making it a good sport for someone who's new to photography. You can also sit on the side nearest to the jack to capture the expression on the bowler's face but this would give you a head on shot of the bowler and you'd lose the movement in the legs and hands you get from sitting yourself to the side. Just watch out for shadows on the green created by other players as this can be distracting. As there's usually a path around the whole green you can pick from a variety of vantage points just pay attention to your background when you're deciding where to put your chair as signs, posts and other annoying objects, no matter how out of focus they are, can take the eye away from your main point of interest.

If you visit when there's a competitive match on you may find the players dressed in whites which when mixed with a dark background can leave them looking a rather bright white. Try underexposing by ½ to a stop if this happens.

After all the players have thrown their bowls there can be a long decision process which sees a few members standing around the bowls trying to measure who's the closest. If this happens crouch down and shoot up getting the bowls on the ground and the pondering group in shot. Just keep an eye on the sky if you do this to make sure it doesn't overexpose. If you're at the end where the jack is try putting your camera close to the ground and blurring the bowls in the foreground to leave the focus on the player about to bowl in the distance. Try taking the attention of fthe players and onto their equipment too. A shot of a group of bowls can be given interesting textures by capturing the long shadows created by trees and buildings that stretch across the green while a close up of a single ball or a line of them in the gutter are always good to put on stock sites.

Off the green there's spectators sat on benches, score boards and the hut where tea's made and equipment's stored to point your lens at. Try stepping further back too to frame your local green with the trees, hedges and gates that may surround it.

To ensure the colour you capture is the colour you keep, use Datacolor - the Colour Management Experts.

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