Ryu: Day 1 Figure Skating – Short Program

It’s almost 1AM and I’m doing this for you, my dear listeners because I love you and care for you. I’d rather be in bed sleeping, but I promised that I will do this diary thing. So here I am, 1AM on the couch at my home having just uploaded the images to flickr. I’m a good man, don’t forget about that. :)

To start off, here are the images that I’ve uploaded (the latest start from the lower right corner):

Trophee Eric Bompard 2011 – Day 1

Anyhow, having not shot any figure skating since… same time last year and therefore I was a bit rusty going in. Matters were made worse as I have just acquired two brand new (used) lens; 24-70mm f2.8 Nano, courtesy of our very own Matthew Cohen and 14-24mm f2.8 Nano. So I now basically have a 14-200mm f2.8 in my bag. Pretty cool.

Spoilt for choices, I quickly learned that A) 14-24mm is a great lens, but will be greater if I can get closer to the subject B) 24-70mm is good for what it does, but it’s like a women who can’t decide between the green salad and a green salad with some corn. Just not wide enough and just not long enough. It’s indecision 2012, but it will come handy during football matches. As for the 14-24mm, I am in love. Can’t wait to shoot the skaters tomorrow during practice sessions when we are allowed to be a lot closer than during the competition.

As you can see from the photos, I tried different things today. Wide, long, up, down, blur, super blur, etc… FYI, this figure skating thing takes about 12 hours if you include the morning practice sessions before the competition. Since there are two days of competition, I thought I try to vary my shots as much as possible today and then fine tune it for tomorrow. For example, I did some 1 second blur shots, but I failed to get a shot I like for the pairs and ice dance. So, that shot is on the list for tomorrow’s free program. Having experimented with different angles, exposures, and tracking the skaters whilst the mirror is up (can’t see anything through the viewfinder when you’re shooting with a very slow shutter speed), I now have a good idea what I should do tomorrow. I think I do. I hope I do.

Another one is a “throw” shot during the pairs competition. This is when the dude tosses the girl into the air and crosses his finger and hopes she’ll land on her feet. I have tried different angles with this particular shot and found out that it looks the best when shot from ground level. I’ll try to do them during the free program tomorrow and if it doesn’t work, I’ll… cry like a girl. What to do? Since there are 10 pairs, I will shoot the first 2-3 pairs from the ground level and see if that works. If it doesn’t, I’ll go up to the stands and shoot down.

What’s extremely annoying with shooting figure skating is not the preteen fans shouting some Russian skater’s names like it’s Bieber on ice. No, it’s the background. You want the cleanest background as possible and that’s why all the photographers go up into the nose bleeds so that the background will be the ice itself. But the problem is that if you’re me, I get bored with shooting from the same angle over and over and over. So, I’ve been trying different angles all day. For tomorrow, I will have to go with the combination of ground level angle as well as nose bleed ones. This will also depend on what kind of shot I want to shoot.

That’s it for today. I will write again tomorrow and will let you know how I faired.


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6 thoughts on “Ryu: Day 1 Figure Skating – Short Program

  1. Ryu –

    Thanks for staying up late and posting shots! I like the super wide angle from above where you can count the other photogs. I thought the throw with the signage in the background [the couple in black with the huge Eric Bompard sign] really gives you a feel for how high the guys are tossing these women. I’m also a fan of the ice level shot, I want to try that for the introductions at a hockey game I’m going to in December. Looking forward to the rest of the shoot.

  2. John,

    I was just telling my wife that she should come and see it today, especially the pairs. It is remarkable what a human being is willing to do for some attention on ice. ;) I just hope no one gets dropped today.

    You have to make sure that you think about finding the least distracting backgrounds to make any sports shot work. If you want to do the intro hockey shot from ice level, find an angle with the best background prior to the game.

    Gotta take a shower and get myself all dolled up for day 2 now.


  3. Looking at all three days of your shots, I am glad you went through this difficult assignment. The results reflect your hard work to try to find something unique under the constraints. (Too bad you couldn’t use a flash!)

    As a whole, these images are classic Ryu – a variety of unexpected perspectives stamped with your own vision and style. Those big, open, wide angle shots that show how enormous the room is compared to a lonely skater are great scene-setters that I imagine placed as a magazine two-page spread.

    One type of shot I didn’t see in these sets is a slow pan – at least, not the typical skating image I would expect. Did you take any of these, and if so, did they work? Seems like that would be one way to try to capture the fact that figure skating is all about movement (and less about a single frozen pose). Also, I don’t recall any close-ups of facial expressions – though the body language shots you captured may be more powerful.

  4. Yugo,

    Ah flash. I tried to use it once and the senior guys told me that I couldn’t. That’s why I used them off the rink when they were training, but as you can see, I didn’t get anything that I really liked.

    Slow pan? Are you sure? There are shots from the event where I did couple 1 second pans…

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