Nikon

The Joy of 'Real' Football

Over the last few months I have been trying to incorporate a new passion of mine alongside photography.

If anyone in the UK has just finished watching 'Class of 92: Out of their League' you will undoubtedly relate to this. It is the reason I felt the need to blog about it... If you didn't watch this programme, then get it on BBC iPlayer, it is a great 2 part documentary about the Class of 92 (Beckham, Neville, Neville, Scholes, Giggs, Butt) buying and running a football club (Salford City FC)

Watching Premiership football has become an expensive and difficult activity, lack of tickets and then £45-£50 ticket prices have forced the average football fan to seek more palatable options. I had a season ticket for Manchester United for approx 8 years, and loved every minute of it. I got to see some magnificent games and players (most notably Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, and the list goes on). Since having kids I have given up my ticket and missed those magical days/nights at Old Trafford.

My eldest boy is now old enough to play football at a reasonable level. He plays for a local team Hawarden Rangers FC. They are an outstanding local team that have nurtured and developed some great players over the years (Michael Owen, Ian Rush, Barry Horne to name a few) Through watching my son train and play every week, I have developed a real love for the club, the way that it is run, and everything that it stands for. This has lead me to volunteer wherever I can... This is where the link to photography comes in.

It started with taking shots of the kids training (to only be shared with a closed group on Facebook) and has now developed into taking photographs of the senior team.

Watching the senior team has been a revelation to me.

Lower level (I am sure that they won't mind me saying that) football has such a different feel to the big money game. You can almost feel every tackle from the close proximity to the pitch, you can hear every debate with the referee (not always the best thing if you have a younger kid with you!!), and most of all you feel a connection with the players, coaching staff and people that run the club. Add to all of this the fact that you can attempt to take a proper 'sports page' photograph and you can understand the magic combination - Photography + Football = :-))

The kit that I typically use is a Nikon D800, 70-200 f2.8 with a lightweight monopod.

Here are some snaps from a recent game that I attended, enjoyed, and photographed!! 

I would encourage everyone that has a love for football to get to their local club and watch a game, no matter what level it is. And if you can take your camera with you, then all the better!!

Museum of Liverpool - Second Visit

I finally got around to revisiting the Museum of Liverpool. About 18 months or so after my last visit I was eager to return and try to take some nice clean shots of the awesome architecture within the building.

Last time I was there was with my E-PL5 and managed to grab a few nice shots of the building. This time I was looking forward to reshooting the place with added strength of the D800, a nice sharp lens, and then putting the photographs through (a tried and tested) black and white conversion in Silver Efex Pro

The following series was taken with

Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70 2.8, and run through Nik Softwares' Silver Efex

Liverpool Waterfront (Got to keep trying)

I am pretty sure that I have blogged about the Liverpool Waterfront before but even so, here is another…

I keep heading back to the same old place trying to get the illusive perfect shot of the Liverpool waterfront, as seen from the Wirral side.

After a recent bout of thunderstorms in the UK, I thought I would try my luck, hoping for some dramatic fork lightning over the city that would enable me to get a photo that would go viral and provide me with royalties for the rest of my life!! Nothing ventured nothing gained.

The weather had other ideas, and if anything as the day drew to a close the weather started to clear.

Wanting to keep up my creative streak of recent months I wasn't going to let this stop me from venturing out and making the most of whatever became of the evening.

Hamilton Square is quite a convenient place, with plenty of viewpoints and a close car park. Below is a link to the Google Maps location:

Hamilton Square, Birkenhead, England

Hamilton Square, offers unobstructed views of the city of Liverpool. Here are a couple of photographs taken with my phone that demonstrate the setup.

Hamilton Square, offers unobstructed views of the city of Liverpool. Here are a couple of photographs taken with my phone that demonstrate the setup.

Second pano shot of my camera set on a tripod overlooking the River Mersey.

Second pano shot of my camera set on a tripod overlooking the River Mersey.

The evening was calm, and offered a very small smattering of cloud. I therefore opted to work on the basis that the only decent cityscape shot that I would get would be a 3:1 crop. Below is one of the better shots that I managed to get. It is very similar to an image that I have taken before, but benefits now from the investment in a good camera body, and a set of great lenses.

Talking of great lenses, once I had done the skyline to death, I thought I would break out the big one, and see what the 70-200 2.8 was capable off. It was getting really late, and I was a little bit concerned with having such an expensive looking contraption with me so I made it a quick shot.

The results have truly astounded me. This lens surpassed all my expectations on reach and clarity.

This image below was taken from exactly the same location as the cityscape image above. Obviously choosing to focus in on the Liver Building, a famous landmark of the area. I was using a tripod and needed to go for a good 20+ seconds to use the low ISO rating and ensure correct exposure. All of this meant I was fully expecting a soft unusable image. I couldn't be further from the truth. It has actually come out as one of my favourites from this particular location.

FullLiverpoolTest-9539.jpg

So I guess that the moral of this story is, even when you think that a place has been done to death, there is still the chance of it throwing up a few surprises. Keep plugging away, the illusive photograph is exactly that….Illusive but great fun in the making.

Persistance...The Making of an image

For a long time (probably on and off since about 2009) I have been going to New Brighton hoping for a rewarding sunset/sunrise. Each time for one reason or another it just hasn't happened.

I have faced cutting winds, and ice cold temperatures. I have arrived early in the morning, late at night and each time the sky has been uneventful, or the cloud cover has been too heavy to provide anything of interest.

Finding a solid piece of stone amongst the soft sand provided a firm base.The shot was framed, and then captured using a remote release. Shutter times were approx. 1 second to allow the light in but prevent the clouds from becoming over exposed.

Finding a solid piece of stone amongst the soft sand provided a firm base.The shot was framed, and then captured using a remote release. Shutter times were approx. 1 second to allow the light in but prevent the clouds from becoming over exposed.

Finally after probably a dozen attempts mother nature rewarded me.

It was hard to believe that it was September. I was equipped with a fleece, a warm North Face down coat, ready for the wind coming in off the sea. What I got instead was temperatures in the late teens, and no wind at all.

This meant that water pools around the lighthouse appeared perfectly flat (without the need to use slow shutter speeds)

And no flying sand to damage everything in sight.

It was also nice to not have to fight with a tripod to keep it still. The only issue I did have was the soft, silt like sand that meant the heavy (Manfrotto) tripod (I have demoted to beach tripod) kept sinking into the sand. This was solved by finding a solid piece of rock that had protruded out of the sand. Surrounded by water I set about framing the shot, and waiting for the light to change.

I even had time to walk away from the setup and take some picture (using my iPhone 5). The very fact that the two images (left, and below) were taken using a camera phone gives you some idea just how beautiful the sunset was.

The light and colour changes during sunset are constant from one second to the next. This was another photograph taken using the iPhone just so that there was a record of how stunning the scene was.

The light and colour changes during sunset are constant from one second to the next. This was another photograph taken using the iPhone just so that there was a record of how stunning the scene was.

Once back home I got to work on post processing. It is always a good indication if post processing is minimal.

Below are a list of modifications made to get from original to final

  • Adjust angle to ensure that lighthouse was straight
  • Enable Lens profile correction
  • Remove chromatic aberration
  • Slight adjustment to the vibrance (+10)
  • Slight adjustment to the saturation (+2)

And finally, here is the image that I most happy with.

Final version - ©www.marc-gardner.com

Prints available on request.