The event I will be attending is the Wheelchair tennis masters where the top 20 wheelchair tennis players from all over the world come and play against each other. It is the equivalent of the world tour finals.
Tennis is a really fast paced sport that is played and different courts such as glass, clay, hard court and indoor. At the tennis masters they will be playing indoors on a hard court but the Grass court is always a favourite with photographers as the serve and volleys with the green backgrounds create really interesting pictures, also with grass opens up the opportunities for players to dive towards the ball which can be very rare with tennis but it is something that can create an amazing shot when you do get this opportunity.
The two main things you will need for tennis photography is patience and concentration as great pictures come along rarely and the match can last either 5 minutes or 11 hours. But the main challenge with tennis photography is capturing a small fast moving ball on the end of the racket as a tennis call can be travelling at nearly 250 kilometres per hour so timing is the key here.
When photographing players with white clothing you will need to open up the exposure by one-half or two-thirds f a stop to give you a natural exposure as the cameras exposure metering system can sometimes be fooled when photographing as the camera things there is too much light and tries to exposure for the clothing which produces a really dark image on the player’s face so to open to exposure will produce a natural expose rather than letting the camera allow itself to just meter for the clothing.
For camera set up you will need at least 1/640th of a second or more to freeze the action on the court. The aperture needs to be either f4 or lower to blur out the background and keep the player in focus. And for the ISO you will need to keep the ISO as low as possible for a better quality of images so between ISO 100-400.
The Ideal lenses to use during Tennis is 400mm F2.8 to get those baseline action pictures and serving shots (unfortunately I don’t have this type of lens) 70-200mm F2.8 for action near the net such as volleys and dives (Fortunately I do have this lens).
Top tips for tennis:
- Don’t move during play. Be considerate and stay still and quiet while play is happening as you don’t want to put the players off.
- Pay attention to the scoreboard as players often celebrate during turning points in the match.
- Fill the frame if there are distracting advertising in the backgrounds and shoot as close as you get but on a grass courts use a wider lens as the action is not just on the baseline.
Wheelchair tennis is pretty much the same as able bodied tennis but the ball is allowed to bounce twice and they play 6 games in a set and 2 sets to win.
Statement of intent:
For this project I have decided to document disability sport, to me this is something that I feel very passionate about because I believe that disability sport should have the same amount of coverage as able bodied sport, we have come a long way since I was a young child where I had never even heard of the Paralympics. But since the 2012 London Paralympics disability sport has been catapulted into the limelight and it showed the world what disabled people can do and labelled them as super humans. For me 2012 has had a lasting effect as this was the moment where I feel in love with sports photography, using a Nikon Coolpix automatic camera I sat in the Olympic stadium photographing these amazing Paralympians compete for the gold medal, this is when I decided that I wanted to become a professional sports photographer and photograph the Olympics and Paralympics in the future.
To start this project I went on the Internet and typed in Google disability sport in Essex, to my horror I only found 1 club and that was for the Essex Outlaws, a wheelchair basketball club in Chelmsford. I emailed them straight away to see if I can go and photograph either a match or a training session but I did not hear back from them. So I emailed my tennis club (Frinton Lawn Tennis Club) asking if there are any club members who play wheelchair tennis that the club can get me in contact with. The chairwoman did not know of anyone in the club who played wheelchair tennis and sent me to the tennis federation and said they may be able to help. I emailed them straight away and their response was they didn’t know of anyone in my area but they would be happy to give me a press pass to go down to London and photograph the wheelchair tennis masters at Lee Valley in the Olympic park. They said I could go down either for 1 or more days but unfortunately I can’t afford the train ticket for more than one day so I let them know that and they were fine with me just going on the opening day on the 2nd December. This is a huge opportunity as it is one of the biggest wheelchair competitions in the world.
Once I had decided to go down the road of disability sport I thought it would be a great chance for me to read up on the camera techniques used to photograph such a fun, fast paced game. This will give me the opportunity to put those skills into action in my test shoot so I am able to iron out any creases before my final shoot.
I have decided to use the Nikon D4s and the d7100 but use the Nikon d4s as my main camera as that camera is perfect for low light situations and with the fast frames per second I will be able to capture every moment with the 11 frames per second.
The lenses I have decided to use are:
I have decided to photograph in a raw format and in manual as I want to have full control over my settings as well as having a high quality image.
Although for my test shoot I photographed able bodied tennis, the main techniques are the same and can be transferred to wheelchair tennis; I need to work on my timing and capturing that emotion in their face as they smash the ball over the net either on their forehand or backhand side.
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