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Shooting gymnastics
Tracy Boulian, Student/Intern, Photographer
Woodbridge | CT | USA | Posted: 5:38 PM on 02.24.04
->> Is it standard to use a long lens to shoot gymnastics? I haven't had much gymnastics shooting experience and I'm covering a national level meet this weekend. I'm trying to decide if its worth the money to rent a 300. Can one typically get really close to the action and will my 200 suffice (on my 1d), or might it be worthwhile to have a 300 on hand? (the 400 is way too expensive to rent).... Any advice? Thank you!
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Jim Metzendorf, Photographer, Assistant
San Bruno | CA | USA | Posted: 6:27 PM on 02.24.04
->> Hi Tracy,

Sometimes, you just don't know what kind of access you'll have until you get there! Given that it is a national meet (that may have greater restrictions in terms of where you can shoot from), I would err on the side of caution and rent the longer glass. Even if you are able to get pretty close, the 300mm lens will help you make tighter, cleaner images.

Best of luck,

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Mark Almond, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 8:37 PM on 02.24.04
->> You might get better pictures by shooting from above in the stands. The floor area of a gymnastics meet is often crowded. Shooting from above should give you cleaner backgrounds. Depending on the size of the arena, a 200 mm might be enough but I would recommend a 300 or 400.
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Dagob ten Wolde, Photographer
Kirkland | WA | USA | Posted: 1:31 AM on 02.25.04
->> Which venue will you be in??? A lot of times big meets end up happening in high school gyms...if this is so 300mm is a lot more reach then you'll need, even when shooting up in the audiance to keep the backgrounds clean....

Though having that 300mm can be nice if you aren't paying more $35 a day, which is the going rate out here.

A good person to talk about this kind of stuff with is either Tom Theobald (found him to be very very helpful) or perhaps Randy Chow....

Do you know if you'll be gitting floor access? Mark is right about meets having natoriously busy backgrounds and I've seen Tom use high angle shoots to good effect, though I personally don't like loosing the hight on the leaps and what not, so I shoot low....

Good luck...


p.s. What meet will you be attending...
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Lloyd Smith, Photographer
Poughkeepsie | NY | USA | Posted: 8:21 AM on 02.25.04
->> The 300 2.8 was indispensable in the days of film for shooting gymnastics, but it's no longer quite as vital. They're still very useful but with the cropping factor of Digital a 80-200 will comfortably cover FX without too many problems. If you have one available i'd definitely take it, because when you want to get creative or candid at a televised meet there's nothing quite like a long lens available (sometimes i swear that Dave Black has the pistol grip of his 300 AFS-II superglued to his hand). If you're really short on cash you can fore-go it, but i'd consider it worth 2 weeks of eating nothing by ramen.

The 400 2.8 would be too long for floor shooting except for one event, it's excellent to shoot rings at across the venue because then you get a much more level shot (i guess if you wanted to shoot beam from the side across the venue that too).

You're going to the VAC right? (see you there then) In the past they've been very good about giving photographers perimeter access which would allow you all the shots you need with an 80-200 especially seeing how the format of the meet is one competitor at a time. Will you be attending the training sessions and Podium meet on Friday? Those will give you a better idea of the venue setup, the lighting, and also they'll probably spell out the access restrictions without the TV crews in the way. This is an Olympic year so there will be more media there than others but i've never seen NBC tape the podium meet.

Mark, agreed the stands give you better backgrounds, but there are some times when backgrounds have to be sacrificed.

If you have any questions feel free to ask anybody at the meet.

Oh and bring a lens brush with you, chalk gets everywhere.
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Wally Nell, Photographer
SAN DIEGO (La Mesa) | CA | USA | Posted: 11:12 AM on 02.25.04
->> I have a general rule of thumb. At almost all sporting events, you have backgrounds that are extremely busy. One way to minimize the busy background, is to isolate your subject as much as you can. The rule of thumb is, the longer the lens, the better you can isolate the subject. So if I have a choice of shooting long lens or shorter lens, I will almost always choose a longer lens; because of the way it separates the subject from the background.
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Tracy Boulian, Student/Intern, Photographer
Woodbridge | CT | USA | Posted: 1:55 PM on 02.25.04
->> Thank you all so much for your input and advice. Yes, I'm shooting the Visa American Cup at Madison Square Garden, and yes I have a credential to be on the floor. I'll be there both days--Fri and Sat--and after hearing everyone's comments, I'll definitely give up $45 for a weekend of shooting with a 300..... Thanks! See you there Lloyd.
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Dave Kennedy, Photographer
Nanuet | NY | US | Posted: 10:03 AM on 02.27.04
->> Tracy, I'll be there too on we can complain about how bad the light is together, misery loves company ya know. If you have Nikon and don't want to do a pre-set white balance, tungsten works best, if you have a Canon, auto-white works just fine.

I think I'll bring both my 300 and a 400, never want to be caught too under-lensed. We're not going to have to be worried about the background being too busy since the light drop-off at The Garden starts in the middle of the floor and gets positively cave-like from there.
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Darrell Scattergood, Photographer
Mountlake Terrace | WA | usa | Posted: 11:12 AM on 02.27.04
->> Good luck and have fun guys. Post some images when you're done. Wish I could be there, but ucla vs uw is this evening which should be interesting in itself. Try and keep your shutter speeds up to minimize motion blur, especially on vault. I really liked the 85mm f1.2l lens I rented one time if you're close enough.
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Grace Chiu, Photographer, Student/Intern
Ottawa | ON | CANADA | Posted: 11:23 AM on 02.27.04
->> I'm hopping on a plane to go to American Cup this afternoon. It was a coin toss as to whether to pack a 200/1.8 with extenders or 300/2.8. I haven't been to Madison Sq. Garden since 1984 for the Mary Lou Retton American Cup. The stuff I shot back then as a spectator is so totally lame (, but I do remember pushing my Tri-X to 1600 with my Nikon EM (long gone). I'm going to follow the wave and bring the 2.8. It's one lb. lighter.

BTW, did anyone attend the photo op with Mayor Bloomberg and the gymnasts this morning?
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Thread Title: Shooting gymnastics
Thread Started By: Tracy Boulian
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