Sunday, March 28, 2010

c o x s w a i n

c o x s w a i n, originally uploaded by poketypatch.


1. The helmsman of a ship's boat or a racing crew.

Coxswain Kog is Norwegian for a cockboat; Welsh, cwch; Italian, cocca, etc.; and swain, Anglo-Saxon for a servant, superintendent, or bailiff. (See Cockboat.). Source: Brewer's Dictionary.

Spring sports have started, and this year I have the pleasure of having each of my three sons participating in a sport. My goal is to try and document their involvement with photography that is purposefully artistic. Like many parents, I bring my camera to most events and try to get some good photographs.  I have multitudes of images from hundreds of competitions.  Now that I have learned some new photographic techniques, have a pretty good lens (Canon 55 - 250 mm) that lets me zoom in a little closer, and have some great post-processing software (Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Elements 6), I want to try and make the average sports shot into something special.

The photo above was taken at my son's crew regatta this weekend.  He is the coxswain for his boat.  The challenges I faced in trying to get a good photograph were many.  First, I was positioned up above the pond where the race occurs.  The course is a long distance, so the starting point is far up the water.  Since I didn't have a schedule of the races, I had to use my lens to try and figure out if my son's boat was in the race.  Once  I determined that he was racing, I had the choice of zooming in as far as I could go, to get a better view of him, or staying out and getting a more panoramic view of the entire field of boats.  The choice was made for me, because I was zoomed in to try and confirm it was my son, and by that time the boats were under me and I had to shoot.  Thus, the next challenge involves time.  In races like this, or like track events, you only have a few seconds to get the shot before the race/event is over.  Many of the newer EOS cameras have a setting that takes continuous photographs.  I didn't use it here, but in the past I have, and it works really well as long as the light conditions are sufficient.

The processing stage of the photo entailed my normal procedure:
  1. Photo is taken in RAW format
  2. Upload to Lightroom
  3. Work on Tones
  4. Export to Photoshop
  5. Play with Image (Working on Lighting, Color Saturation, Applying Effects like Textures, Blur, Gradients)
  6. Presentation
In the top photo, I used sepia tones in lightroom, while keeping the red school color and the greens in my son's sweatshirt.  Once in photoshop, I added a fake tilt-shift effect.  I did it the easy way by just using a Gaussian Blur of around 4.6 and then erasing out the center.  There is a tutorial for a better looking, but more complicated way to do it  here.  I also added a subtle texture to the top one.  In the one below, all I really did was blur the top and bottom, to draw your eyes to the boat.

My other two sons are playing lacrosse this season. Since you have a full game of playing time to catch photos, the time limits aren't as pressing. However, when looking back at some of the photographs I took, I am finding that composing a good shot takes a bit of thought in terms of getting the timing right and making the photograph interesting.

This photo is one I took last week of my son who is the Goalie of his team. It is a little easier getting him, because much of the action surrounds him.  One handy feature in lightroom is the crop setting. I often pull that up because it has a nice grid for the rule of thirds. That way I can crop my photo and make sure it is properly balanced. I did that in this one, making the goalie line up right at the 2/3 line.

The last photograph is of my oldest son.  He is #22 in this shot.  Unfortunately, most of the photos I took of his games involved him running up the field, with other players in front or behind and they were all pretty boring.  This one seemed a little more interesting as it showed multiple players (full body) the Referee and the Score.  Unfortunately, it was a little blurry.  I worked on it in lightroom - using a lightroom preset that simulates hdr.  Then I moved it to photoshop and added a motion blur on the edges (at about 18%) and a texture.  Basically, I decided to make the blur work for me instead of against me.  It turned out okay (not great) but the main thing was that I learned I probable needed a higher iso ( I was shooting at 200 ISO) level to help out with that blur.  I will make that correction at the next game!

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