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How I shoot Watersports


These are just a few of my images shot over the years since I retired and took up Photography as a hobby. Thanks for taking the time to drop by, I hope you may find something to interest you. Any comments, positive or negative but given with a positive intent will always be welcome
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How I shoot Watersports

22 Feb 2019 12:48PM   Views : 548 Unique : 371

So, on to a bit of technical stuff. As a beginning let me say that over the years I have shot this sport using a very wide range of kit and for my use of the images (website sharing, printing to 15"x10" for competition use / sales) it really hasn't mattered what I used, from canon 300D, through 5Dmk2 and 7Dmk2 + longish white L lenses (up to 400 f5.6L), Nikon 1 v2 with the CX 70-300 lens, Panasonic fz1000, M4/3rds from EM-5 to EM-1 mk2 and Sony RX10 mk4. (if you are interested in checking this out I have albums containing wind / kite surfing action using all these systems on my flikr site, just look for Brian Wadie Photographer)

The key is to really understand the sport so that you can read the action, anticipate when something interesting is about to happen and read the wind and waves to see where the action is moving to (remember on our beach it can be anywhere in a mile wide by half mile deep box) . Once you can do that its then a case of having sufficient familiarity with your kit that you don't have to think about setting it up to get the shot / sequence.

I have only changed what I used in response to the effects of aging and ill-health on my ability to handle the weight of the system I had at the time, (a serious but now resolved muscle wasting issue meant that I had to give up completely for a while)

Right now I am using my EM-1 mk2 with either the Panasonic PL 100-400 or 50-200 SWD (=/- a 1.4XTC) or a Sony RX10-4, both systems shot off a footed monopod with a fluid video head. (the monopod was originally to keep me stable in gusting storm force winds but now its important in coping with the weight as I can no longer hand-hold even these light systems for more than a few minutes)

I got the RX10 mk4 in place of the Panasonic G9 that I typically used with the 100-400 following a repetition of a recurring injury to my left shoulder as one wonderful thing it provides is the ability to shoot essentially one handed (so long as you are right handed). It remains my "goto" lens for most of the time at present as the injury is only slowly improving.

Set-up is fairly consistent with both systems (and may seem a bit idiosyncratic, but its what works for me):

Aperture priority, wide open with ISO adjusted to give a shutter speed in excess of 1/1000th sec (the higher the better within the constraints of acceptable ISO), ISO max of 1600 for the RX10 and up to ISO 4000 with the EM-1 mk2 . CAF or CAF + tracking with small focus points and electronic shutter shooting at the maximum rate keeping continuous focusing between shots. I am constantly adjusting the exposure compensation depending on which direction I am shooting (remember its a South facing beach so at any moment I may be shooting directly into the sun or at 45 degrees to sun as a rider tracks across the water following wind and wave action )

I shoot the RX10 mk4 in Extra fine JPG (I still can't find the best way to get better results form the raw files) and LSF jpg + raw with the EM-1 mk2 keeping the raw files for those times a highest quality image is needed

when ever possible I track specific riders waiting for the action (using the EVF, which I adjust dioptre every time before I start a session) , half-pressing the shutter button to maintain focus on the head / face if close enough, on the sail as they get further away (I have never got used to back-button focus) and closing the shutter the moment I anticipate action is about to begin, firing off anything from a short 3 shot burst to, in the extreme of a long wave ride, anything up to 20+ shots. If at anytime I sense the focus may be drifting I release the shutter button, half-press and the relocate focus point. (I find both systems are remarkably good in maintaining focus lock whilst tracking and regaining focus rapidly if I need to recapture it)

Minimal post-processing is done using LR Classic and for speed I dump every thing into subject / date tagged files, rapidly scan looking for sequences of interest, process the first then paste that to all in the sequence and export to a series of sub-files in sets of around 30 / set. I will only spend more time processing if I get a specific request for a high quality image for printing or publicity use

I think those are the key points, as before I'm happy to give clarification or answer any questions about how I do this (the why is simple - its what I have found works for me Smile )

For fun and as a contrast, I thought you may like to see this shot one of my buddies took recently showing how my "Toy" system looks compared to that of others shooting the action during a session. I'm in the background providing a bit of "Tutoring" with a photo-club friend who is using the G9 + 100-400 whereas I have the Sony RX10 mk4. In the foreground you have a canon 5Dmk4 + 600mm LIS, a 7Dmk2 + 100-400 LIS and we have another regular who shoots with a 1DXmk2 + 500mk2 LIS +/- a 1.4XTC (he tells me that when he is as old as I am he's getting the EM-1mk2 + 300F4 Smile ) The sailors tell us that they can see little difference in the images but that, if anything my images are sharper and clearer, which led some of the other photographers asking what I was using and how it affected the results. It was that which led me to look at results from all my different systems used over the years and reach my opening conclusion that, used properly it is almost irrelevant what system you use - for this purpose (obviously it will be different in different shooting regimes / needs)


My final part on this sport will look at other local activities, yacht racing, power boat racing, Aqua X, surfing and the like and go a bit further afield in the UK

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