Ryu: Top 10 because it’s better than Sports Illustrated

My wife is cleaning the fish tank as I write this and I really need to finish my top 10 of 2013 before she’s done.

Happy new year everyone. Just wanted to thank you for your fantabulous support for BLFS last year. It was great. We are thinking about some cool shit for 2014, so hopefully we can all ride the BLFS bus together into the sunset. Oh wait. That sounds like we’re going to end it. No, no. We will ride together to next year and beyond. That sounds marginally better. Anyway, here’s my top 10 and not top 11 like I had last year. Of course, in no particular order.

World Table Tennis Championship
My first time shooting ping pong and it was fun. And long. The reason I like this picture is that I was able to show how high she was throwing the ball. This wouldn’t have worked if I was shooting it horizontally as it would diminished the effect of the height of the ball. In any case, the sport itself is slightly boring as it is dominated by Asians who don’t know how to celebrate. Or even crack a smile. So serious.

Ai Miyazato (Japan) during Table Tennis World Championship 2013 15/5/13

Spain v Brazil
For a lot of people who follow my work and for those who like football, this seems to be the consensus favourite of 2013. This was when Neymar went into the stands to after the medal and trophy ceremony and got mobbed by the fans. I like it because it shows the craziness of football and I got it almost exactly how I wanted it. As you may have already guessed, I had my camera above my head with my hand fully extended to get this shot. Bit of a crap shoot as I’m not looking through the viewfinder. But over the years, I have perfected the no-look shot so I basically know where my lens is pointing without looking. Seriously, I do. If I had a another go at this shot, I’d aim it a bit lower to get rid of the roof of the stadium on the upper left corner. Hopefully I’ll be in Brazil this summer to to try it again. :)

Neymar (10, Brazil) and fans during Spain v BrazilConfederations Cup 2013 30/6/13

World Swimming Championship: Diving
Also another first in my life. I shot the entire competition from beginning until the end. About 2 weeks of water sports. Oh that sounds nasty. The only time I got to see some sun was when we had the daily 6 hours break between the morning and afternoon sessions and diving. I tried to underexpose everything in diving just so I can get the light to fall onto parts of the body to create an interesting look. I sort of did that here as her face is completely dark and the rest of the body is sort of properly exposed. I also wanted to have the sky and nothing else as the background. This discipline is the most fun out of all the water stuff as the others can only be shot from the ground. Unless you have underwater housing, but that’s another story.

Women's 3 metre springboard during World Aquatic Swimming Championship FINA 2013 Barcelona 26/7/13


World Swimming Championship: Swimming
Towards the end of my stay in Barcelona, I got bored. So, I started to experiment like a college co-ed. I was really into this under exposing stuff and this time I wanted the background to be completely black. I managed to do it, but the rest was quite underexposed as well. Mr. photoshop came to my rescue and helped me lighten things up a bit, but to be honest I find the colour to be a bit unnatural. Unfortunately this is what you have to live with sports photography as you can’t put fill lights to compensate for underexposing certain parts of the photo. But I’m content with the result. If I get a chance again this year, I might try to make it better since this is the type of action that happens almost all the time during a swim meet.

Men's 50m freestyle preliminaries during World Aquatic Swimming Championship FINA 2013 Barcelona 3/8/13

Hertha Berlin v Hamburg
I think it was my first match of the season and the only reason I went is because there is a Japanese guy playing for Hertha. I thought I could sell some of his photos to a Japanese publication. I didn’t, but I got this picture. It took me a long time, about 1/3 of the 2nd half to get it. It took this long because I was waiting for him to look “right” and everything to be aligned. I eventually did and I like the window effect at the top.  Honestly, without it, it will just be a goal keeper with his hands on his hip. Boring.

Rene Adler (15, Hamburg) during Bundesliga 2013 Hertha Berlin v Hamburg 24/8/13

Evian Championship
That’s right. You get to have infinite amount of Evian water at this event because they make (or source) the water there. If you like Evian, you’ll be in heaven. It was at a hole where you can go below the level where the golfers were so you can really get down low and get a super low angle shot. I was waiting for this particular golfer because she was wearing white and I wanted the white to blend in with the clouds. I did. And I’m okay with that.

Tee shot 16th hole final round Evian Championship 2013 15/9/13

Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund
Lest you forget I shoot football most of the time. This was one of those matches that blends in with the rest of the season with the exception of this photo. I like it because the daintiness of Giroud’s feet and the faces of both players are conveniently covered. Everything fits in well in the compositionally and order is restored.

Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund 2013 Champions League

Golden Spin
Probably the last time I will ever shoot Kim Yuna, my favourite figure skater ever. Without her, I would not have had the will to keep on shooting figure skating. I got hooked when I saw her perform in Paris and since then I’ve been shooting figure skating. My regret is that I never shot her to perfection so this one is a bit of a sentimental pick. Not that I hate this photo, but like always, I’m okay with it. This was shot during the press conference after her free performance. Bet you didn’t know that. :)

Golden Spin Zagreb 2013 Kim Yuna after Free Performance 7/12/13

Viktoria Plzen v CSKA Moscow
Another Champions League match and another monkey chat fucking piece of shit assholes. Honestly, I have no idea why UEFA doesn’t ban these fuckers. It’s 21st century and you shouldn’t have monkey chants. Fuck them. But I like this shot. Also waited a bit until things were lined up the way I wanted before I got the shot. Trying to shoot disgusting people beautifully. That’s the job of a sports photographer.


Inter v Milan
10. Last but not least, the Milan derby from last month. Smoke and fog are for some reason rampant in this part of Italy and they create a look that I saw from the previous derby a season ago. For some reason I forgot to take the shot or didn’t really even cross my mind to do so. Once again, I wanted emphasise the minimal amount of lights coming from the flood lights. The red from the electric advertisement board was a lucky accident. Someone won the match, but I don’t remember (Inter did).

Serie A Inter v Milan 22/12/13

There you have it. Most of these shots came to me when I was bored and that says a lot about sports and my attention span. But I firmly do believe my best work is done when I allow myself time to get creative. You will hear from Matt and I about the importance of aesthetic in sports photography when you listen to our next podcast. We do not want you to become one of those people who think the great moment compensates for a shitty picture. It doesn’t. Well, it does if you’re Sports Illustrated.

Let’s make sports photography beautiful (again) in 2014.


*Please Read Below*
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