Is Hoeneß mad?

Most football fans will have noticed the weird Bayern press conference yesterday. The management, namely, Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Hasan Salihamidžić, bashed the media, accusing them of not respectful work, while at the same time citing human rights, insulting a former player, and showing inappropriate regret regarding previous own insults.

Bundesliga 29. Spieltag: Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC Bayern Muenchen, 15.04.2017

The instant media reaction was predictable: According to the commentaries, the three managers (in particular the first two of them) have lost credibility, have double standards, and don’t understanding how media work. Social media did the rest, adding funny comments (“best press conference since Tic Tac Toe #miasanmimimi”). In short: the football nation has its topic one day before the Bayern match in Wolfsburg.

My take is different. 

Hoeneß and Rummenigge are in the business for a very long time. They know what they are doing.

Bundesliga 29. Spieltag: Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC Bayern Muenchen, 15.04.2017

To see what I mean, turn the clock back 30 years. Back then, the Bayern manager was Uli Hoeneß (yes, Hoeneß!). Bayern was under pressure after they lost a few games and the second, Cologne (yes, Cologne!), suddenly was a serious challenger. The Cologne coach Christoph Daum did aggressive media work, insulting  the Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes (yes, Heynckes!). Of course, the press jumped on the bandwagon, and asked if Heynckes could stand the psychological pressure.

The situation was critical for Heynckes, as it is for the Bayern coach Kovac now.

German TV invited Daum, Heynckes, and Hoeneß to a TV talk. Do you remember what Hoeneß did? He destroyed Daum. The media started talking about “Hoeneß vs Daum” and forgot questioning Heynckes’ abilities. The momentum went back to the Bayern who eventually won the championship.

Any analogies? Draw your own conclusions.

It clicked

How I became a sports photographer

One day it clicked. And I don’t mean my camera. 

30 international photographers gathered at the media briefing. The announcement was: “Three photographers will have exclusive access to the track: Keystone, AFP and Ulf Schiller”. What was going on here? Let me tell step by step.

UCI Hour Record Attempt Sep 18, 2014

For long, I loved shooting sports. My friends, hobby athletes, were my usual victims. However, professional sport has always been my love. So I took a camera to the stands and shot pictures from there. There weren’t many reactions. “Yes I saw this in TV too”, was a typical one.

I desperately needed change. Thus, I started talking to event organizers. I wanted to get close to the athletes and shoot something unusual.

The Tissotvelodrome Grenchen accepted me. So I started shooting track cycling races. A niche sport. Maybe that’s why I made myself a name so quickly. After a few races, every elite track cyclist in Switzerland knew my name.

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Then, a big day was ahead… Jens Voigt, the extremely popular German cycling star, 17-times Tour de France participant, Yellow Jersey holder, permanent attacker in the peloton (quote: «Shut up legs and do what I tell you») planned to retire from professional cycling after a final attack on the official “UCI Hour Record”. Eurosport would broadcast live. The worldwide press would be there. Social media was buzzing. The Tissotvelodrome, my childs’ room, had turned into an arena of world sports. My guts were aching. I wanted to be part of the game.

I used my old trick, and asked the organizer directly. So I wrote an email to Jens’ team, Trek Factory Racing. I introduced myself as photographer of the Tissotvelodrome, asked if I could work for them, and included some of my pictures as reference. The answer was quick and polite. A rejection.

So I submitted an accreditation through the official way. Being one of very many, was the least thing I was hoping for.

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On the race day, Peter (CEO of the Tissotvelodrome) asked me to contact Trek Factory Racing’s media officer. “Is your offer still valid?”, he asked. I was more than surprised: Yes, sure, was the answer. “Good, we saw your pictures in the Tissotvelodrome. You have talent, you know what you are doing. Please deliver the pictures one hour after the race.”

Bang! I didn’t expect that! I came straight from work. That was the only reason I had my laptop with me. What a luck on an evening that I had already written off from a photographic point of view. 

When I came home late at night, my wife was waiting. She hugged me. She had seen me on the TV. And, more importantly, she showed me my pictures. They were all over the Internet! From Australia to California. I had water in my eyes. I didn’t sleep that night. 

It clicked! 

This was what I wanted! During that sleepless night, I decided to become a sports photographer.

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Not mirrorless

So I have a new camera, a dinosaur: another Canon 1 DX mark ii.

In the days of the mirrorless hype (“the camera revolution has started”) when Canon, Nikon, and Fuji introduced a generation of new mirrorless cameras, my photo friends and I decided to buy… good-old DSLRs.

Why? The reason is simple.

  • First: for our needs, there aren’t lenses for mirrorless cameras out there. Those lenses that have been introduced are not convincing (the only exception being Canon’s new F2.0 zoom lens – this one might be a game changer in the future).
  • Second: modern DSLR’s are 100% reliable. Brilliant autofocus, 14 frames per second, my old one has 376’000 shutter releases and is still working perfectly).
  • Third: Why do we need more of everything? 20 Megapixels are all we need, I recently even delivered even a 5x5m poster. The video capabilities are really good, and the weight… come on, We’re neither 7 nor 80: the weight is negligible compared to that of the tele lenses.

I unboxed the camera yesterday. Enjoy some first test shots.

I am convinced, the future will be mirrorless. But meanwhile the new DXiis will do the better job!

Train Station Vaulting

A pole vault event in Zurich’s train station was the prologue to this year’s “Weltklasse Zürich”. Location and sport were simply spectacular. Timur Morgunov (ANA) was the winner with 5.91m. In second and third place were Shawnacy Barber (CAN) and Kurtis Marschall (AUS) who improved his PB twice. Both cleared 5.86m. The slightly injured world record holder Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) ended fifth with 5.81m. Enjoy some of my pictures.

 

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Sigma screwed me up

Back to Bundesliga. This blog is about my frustration with my latest football coverage.

For those who follow my blog for photography reasons: maybe you remember that I bought a new tele lens earlier this year, the Sigma 120-300 F 2.8 S. It had been introduced in a video by Stephan Wiesner and we were quite enthusiastic about the first results.

After a few months it is time for a report on its long-run performance. I’ll be short: the lens has a massive problem: the autofocus! Depending on what you want to do, the performance ranges between “good” and “absolutely not reliable”.

  • The lens performed really well on the first day when the video was made: why? Because I only did two sorts of shots that work with this lens. First, shots when things are not hectic. Second action shots where the distance is predictable. A good example for the latter are the volleyball scenes from the head-on position that appear in Stephan’s video. Below are examples of such shots.
  • However, the lens is absolutely not reliable, if the subject is running towards you, or the exact spot of the action is not predictable. The first is typical for head-on positions in athletics (a 100m sprinter is too fast for the lens) and the latter for football matches (where one intelligent pass requires immediate re-focusing to some completely new spot).  I cannot include these pictures, because I delete them immediately: believe me, I deleted many! Also: be grateful to my parents who educated me well. I won’t use strong words here. I was tempted to use them, though, when I missed important shots.
  • As an aside, the lens also has strong vignetting. This is not bad per se. Some of the pictures have a “cool” look. However, Lightroom is not able to correct this if you want to.  So this is worth mentioning.