I covered the national gymnastics championships held in Napier back in October. Hard work, but very satisfying. After five days I came home with around 9500 images (123 Gb), of which about one third made it to my website. You can find them in my galleries. Here is a short selection from that lot.
Much more difficult were the action shots, especially when backgrounds were usually very cluttered. There was only one angle which gave good shots for the balance beam, for example:
Unfortunately the dismount mat was positioned at the far end, so 80% of their routine was spent with their back towards me.
Rings are always a favourite, at least with the spectators. It’s a chance for the competitors to demonstrate their strength (without appearing to make any effort:
This year I tried for some closeups too:
Back to the WAG (“women’s artistic gymnastics”). Routines for the vault seems to alternate between power and grace (although at the highest international level I’m sure there’s a fusion of the two). For some of the slightly easier vaults I got shots showing almost perfect form (at least to my uncritical eyes):
The more ambitious, however, do show the tremendous effort involved:
They get so high! Look at this Australian competitor:
and this next one from the Bay of Plenty:
Back to the MAG (you’ve guessed it: “men’s artistic gymnastics”):
Because I was on my own, coverage of everything was impossible. I was quite pleased with a position I found for the parallel bars, which also enabled me to catch shots of the high bar and rings, with just a few paces.
The seniors are quite good at handstands:
To end with the women again, back to the balance beam. Most young gymnasts would find it hard enough to do this next move on the floor, let alone up there!
I eventually found a good spot for the uneven bars, at least while they were warming up. This shot is a good one to finish on:
For the photographers: workflow is critical with so many images to process. Lighting conditions (colour and intensity) were quite variable within the stadium, so I was forced to shoot in RAW. Each image got some minimal processing in Lightroom (cropping, punch, sometimes auto tone) before being exported directly to my website. I think I spend around 10 sec per image.
To automate the export from Lightroom to my galleries I use the excellent plugin by Jeffrey Friedl.
Because the images are usually a little noisy (typically shot at 6400 ISO), before printing I revert to the cropped version prior to the ‘punch’ stage, edit in Photoshop and use Topaz Lab’s “Denoise” for noise removal.
The largest prints ordered so far this year were 16″ x 24″ and they looked fine.
I’ve just come across another LR plugin, LR/Blog, which speeds up exporting images to this blog. At $13 (in our money) it was well worth it.