Earlier this month I got a call from my Swedish friend Edward telling me that his favourite football team from Sweden, Malmo FF were visiting Florida on tour and playing a match against the New York Red Bulls at a college in Bradenton.
Anyway, the subject of this blog is about shooting out of your comfort zone. I’ve shot sports before, NBA Basketball and the Orlando Magic, Baseball, Soccer (Football), and even Rodeo. I even shot Malmo FF before when they visited Florida 5 years ago and played against UCF Knights. In the past I’ve usually taken along my 70-200mm lens which is as long as I usually need to go. But this time I decided to rent a 100-400mm lens from The Lens Depot, which is a very good resource for getting hold of equipment you need from time to time without spending thousands of dollars to have it sitting in Pelican Case somewhere.
So I met Edward on the day and drove down to Bradenton. Because of a last minute change to the kick-off time (The match was brought forward two hours) we arrived late in the first half. Edward’s friend and contact Peter Lind was already on the touch line behind one of the goals shooting. I waited for the half to finish before getting out into position for the second half. Luckily Peter is after the goal mouth action from the Malmo team, so I was able to go to the other end of the field and had the sun behind me shooting from behind and just to one side of the Malmo goal.
So when I started to shoot with the longer lens I was surprised at how difficult it was to start with, getting so tight on players that are quite a distance away, yet moving very quickly was awkward. The most difficult part to get used to was when I was focused in on the action on the far side of the field, then suddenly with a long pass the play was almost right on top of me. I also had another full frame camera body with a 24-105 on it for any close up action where I would suddenly need to go wide angle. Although I stuck to the longer lens as long as possible. I also found that at longer distances choosing the focus point was difficult as I had to anticipate the action. That was done by looking through the lens with the camera aimed at the goal for example and keeping my non camera eye open using my peripheral vision to see when the ball was heading into the penalty area. Then I would switch eyes, look through the viewfinder as I normally do and start shooting on continuous mode.
The whole experience was fun and I thank Peter Lind for his kindness and letting in on the action. It’s a privilege to be able to shoot at such en event. My only regret was getting there late and not being able to shoot Thierry Henry in action. I saw him play a few minutes at the end of the first half, but during the second half he was sat on the bench.
Here are a couple of twitter links for organizations mentioned above: MLS = @MLS, Malmo FF = @Malmo_FF or @mff_fotboll, New York Red Bulls = @NewYorkRedBulls