Mujinga

Soon after my move to Switzerland in 2004, I became aware of a little girl that was much faster than all the others. Not only did she beat my children 😉 , she always won with big, big margins against anybody. It was easy to see that she was really special. Her name was Mujinga Kambundji.

Mujinga Kambundji - Shooting

Almost 14 years later, Mujinga is an international star. At the recent indoor World Championships she won the bronze medal, beating the Olympic 100m Champion Elaine Thompson (JAM) and the World Champion of 2015, Daphne Schippers (NED).

Living in the same area, even being a member of her club, I always had in mind doing a shooting with her, but I knew she has a lot of similar requests. So I always hesitated, despite of other people telling me that she would agree for sure. In my opinion, there had to be a reason for a shooting.

Mujinga Kambundji - Shooting

The reason came when the organizers of the international CITIUS Meeting (Bern, Wankdorf, June 16, 2018) asked me to do a shooting with Mujinga. The CITIUS meeting will be Mujinga’s first individual start in her home town Bern since 2012.

My friend Stephan Wiesner, the well known YouTube photographer, came with me and we did the shooting in team work. Needless to say, that Stephan also did a nice behind-the scenes YouTube video.

Links:

Shooting action using flashes

Recently I did several portrait shootings with internationally successful athletes. The ambition is to set up special lighting using flashes. This blog is about the difficulties that you encounter and how to solve them.

The Basic Setup

First let me explain my typical setup like I used it for this portrait of the European Scratch Champion 2016 Gaël Suter. The customer (Tissot Velodrome) showed me a target picture with a portrait of a 5xOlympic Champion and Tour de France winner (if you know cycling, you know who).  That target picture had side lighting as the main artistic ingredient. So I placed my 120cm soft box with grid on the left hand side. This was my main main source of light. Next, I took my 180cm strip light (with grid too) and placed it on the right hand side behind Gaël. The idea was to create a rim light that would separate Gaël from the background (typical for sports portraits).

The rest was easy: Gaël balanced his bike on the rollers and I ensured that I pressed the shutter exactly when his right foot was in the picture.

Gael Suter, 26.06.2017
Gael Suter am 26.06 2017 im Tissot Velodrome, Grenchen, Schweiz, Foto: Ulf Schiller 2017

 

From still pictures to action pictures

Taking action pictures is considerably harder. This is a shooting that I did with Stephan Wiesner in December 2017 when we met the U23 European Silver medalist Dany Brand. The basic setup was similar, but not identical. One light source (the same 120cm soft box) from Dany’s front (of course now to the side of the photographer). Instead of the strip light we chose five speed lights from the back.

Dany Brand Shooting
Dany Brand (Silver 400mH at the European U23 Championships 2017)

The main problem is to freeze the action. To explain, a flash has a short but not infinitely short burning time. This time gets longer, when the flash is used at higher power. In such cases, the action often won’t be frozen. The usual result is a quite ugly image. So we had to ensure that the burning time was sufficiently short! This meant that the flash had to be at  low power. The usual reaction would have been to shoot with wide aperture. However, there was a second difficulty: we wanted to create the star-like look of the flashes in the back. Hence we had to shoot at F13 which is less than half the light as in GaĂ«ls photo. We solved the problem by increasing the ISO (ISO 400) and moving the flash as close as possible. It was just outside the frame.

Moving the light source close is almost always a good idea in portrait photography. By the law of physics with half of the distance you need just 1/4 of the flash power. Moreover, the light gets softer (which was a potential problem here because we also wanted Dany’s muscles to pop out. But, as you can see, his muscles were bigger than the light source was soft 😛 )

Dany-Ulf-Wiesner
Me, Dany, Stephan

Better gear made me a worse photographer

Admittedly, the title is an attention grabber, but I have a point.

When I meet other “old” photographers, we start talking about the good old days after a while. We had cameras with a single shot only, manual focus, no auto exposure, maximum 400 ASA films (which is equivalent to 400 ISO) that we could push to 800 ASA, maximum. Pushing to 800 ASA was only possible with black and white films, of course. After 36 exposures we had to insert a new film. Back in the late 1970s sports photography was really hard. I shot Basketball Bundesliga games. I used about three films per match and went home with one or two good pictures. Moreover, when I look at those pictures today, they are all very soft. Given todays standards, I would just press the delete button.

VOLLEYBALL NLA PLAYOFFS 2018 QUARTER FINAL
Tiana DOCKERY (Viteos NUC #7) during the warm up for the quarter final between Viteos NUC and VC Kanti Schaffhausen; VOLLEYBALL NLA PLAYOFFS 2018 QUARTER FINAL am 24 March, 2018 in Neuchatel (Halle des Sports de la Riveraine), Schweiz, Photo Credit: Ulf Schiller

So, let’s be clear: Today my pictures are better! But still, I think my claim is true: better gear made me a worse photographer. Examples?

  • I was more patient. In a basketball match, I pre-focused on, say, the position where the power forward typically shot. Why pre-focus? Because I had no autofocus. After pre-focusing, I had to wait. Guess, what didn’t happen? The guy did a lot of things, except shooting from the “typical” position.
  • I was more concentrated. Today my camera is like a machine gun. Back then, I had only one shot. Then I had to re-wind manually. So while I can shoot up to 14 frames/sec today, I had to press the shutter exactly at the peak of the action. Recently, I remembered this when I was at a cross run. I set the camera deliberately to the one-shot mode and tried to capture the strides exactly at the point where the back leg was in maximum stretch. I needed a few attempts, but it worked after a while. The advantage: nearly every picture was perfect whereas with the high-speed mode, I mostly have “almost perfect” pictures, shortly before or shortly after the ideal phase.
2015-12-05-langenthal-cross-17
Langenthal cross run 2015: single shot, fill-in flash
  • I cared about the background. Today, I have super lenses. My 400mm F2.8 has 140mm aperture. With such a glas, background is just irrelevant. It vanishes in the bokeh anyway. Back then, this was entirely different. So I was constantly looking for positions with good background. This was often in conflict with the lighting, though. I shot many bad photos, just because I could not solve this problem.
2014-05-bernerrundfahrt-66
Cyrille ThiĂšry at the Berner Rundfahrt 2016 – 135mm F2 (the cars in the background vanish in the bokeh)
  • I was more selective. Today I often press the shutter although I know that I shouldn’t. The consequence are tons of mediocre pictures that get deleted immediately when I look at the results. Back then, I had 36 pictures on one film roll. I didn’t want to waste them, so I was much more cautious when it came to pressing the button. Again, this is related to the fact that I am less concentrated than I was back then.

So why do I care? Because I come back home with tons of junk. This stresses my shutter counter and my time budget. My aim for the next year is to remember the skills from the “good” old days (they weren’t exactly good), be more concentrated, shoot less, without missing the good pictures.

 

“The team did everything to make it easy for me”

Volley DĂŒdingen’s topscorer Danielle Harbin talks about her life as a pro in Switzerland

Volley DĂŒdingen’s outside hitter Danielle Harbin will remember her first professional year for the rest of her life. After 15 matches she leads the Swiss top scorer ranking with 292 points – almost 20 points per match. Together with her team, the DĂŒdingen Powercats, she also rallied through the first round of the CEV European Cup, contributing 20 spikes, 3 aces, and 3 block points to the success.

“I didn’t expect this” she tells me. “I never was a top scorer before.”

NLA TS Volley Duedingen vs VFM
Danielle Harbin with roomie and setter Zora Widmer during the match between TS Volley Duedingen and VFM; December, 16 2017 in Duedingen (Sportzentrum Leimacker), Schweiz, Photo Credit: Ulf Schiller 2017

From the deep south of the US to the provinces of Switzerland

We meet and talk after the Powercats have just swept the third of the previous championship, VFM, out of the gym. Danielle is relaxed and takes her time. No superstar behavior. My interest is less in the usual after-game bla bla. Rather, I would like to know more about Danielle’s background. In particular, how did the young college player make the transition from the deep South of the United States to a small town in the provinces of Switzerland?

Growing up in Mobile Alabama, Danielle started playing basketball and volleyball. “I always wanted to be a professional volleyball player”, Danielle starts explaining. “One of our coaches at the Arkansas Razorbacks was a pro.” The coach approached a well trusted agent who set up Danielle’s profile. “The most important thing was to define my position, as I have also played on other positions before.” The file must have been convincing: Only a few weeks after it was published, Danielle received an email. It was already the ultimate offer – written by an unknown team in an unknown town in Switzerland – the DĂŒdingen Powercats.

NLA TS Volley Duedingen vs VFM
The first of three steps until she hits hard. Danielle Harbin during the match TS Volley Duedingen vs VFM on December, 16 2017 in Duedingen (Sportzentrum Leimacker), Schweiz, Photo Credit: Ulf Schiller 2017

One team member was crucial

Excitement and nervousness were great. Wow, Switzerland, was the first thought. The agent didn’t give much, but very relevant information. “It is a good offer. We can wait, as there will be more offers, but it is not likely that there will be many better offers.” The crucial information was that there is another American on the team, managed by the same agent, namely, Sabel Moffet. “With Sabel on the same team, things will be easy” was the promise.

“We have a good reputation on the US market”, explains club president Christian Marbach. “Mutual trust between our agents and us is crucial.”

Before the big adventure started for Danielle, there was another adventure ahead, though: She represented the USA at the University Games in Taipeh, Taiwan, in August. From the Games, Danielle travelled back home, then, after only two days, she headed to Switzerland.

Volleyball NLA: TS Volley Duedingen vs Volero Zuerich
Danielle HARBIN (TS Volley Duedingen #3) during the match TS Volley Duedingen vs Volero Zuerich Nov 19, 2017 in Duedingen (Sportzentrum Leimacker), Schweiz, Photo Credit: Ulf Schiller 2017

Team around the clock

“We do a lot for the players, especially on the first days” Christian explains. “Two contact persons welcome the players. They offer help in case of any problem.”

“I arrived at DĂŒdingen exactly on my birthday” Danielle remembers. So what was the first impression of the town, I ask her. “Cute!” is the immediate response. DĂŒdingen reminds her of her home. A small town and volleyball important. The Powercats are visible everywhere in DĂŒdingen. “People recognize me on the street. The Powercats mean something for them.”

“The team did everything to make it easy for me,” Danielle continues. She lives in an apartment with two other players, libera Thays Deprati and setter Zora Widmer. Even in their free time, the players stick together. Sabel plays the integrating role. She finds a lot of activities, or – in other words – she implicitly keeps the agent’s promises. The team and life: these two expressions appear identical for Danielle.

“In fact, the chemistry is right”, adds Christian. Having players with team spirit, like Sabel or captain Kristel Marbach, is ideal. “As a result, the team has a strong will. I am really proud of this team.”

Volleyball NLA: TS Volley Duedingen vs Volero Zuerich
Maybe Danielle’s best game so far: the 3-2 against Volero ZĂŒrich. For her excellent spikes just at the right time, Danielle received the MVP award. Nov 19, 2017 in Duedingen (Sportzentrum Leimacker), Schweiz, Photo Credit: Ulf Schiller 2017

Train – eat – sleep – repeat

I ask Danielle how life has changed. The answer is surprising at first sight, but absolutely plausible after a second thought. Despite of the completely different surroundings, things didn’t really change,. “I have more training”, Danielle replies after some thinking, “now twice a day”. So for most of the time she lives in the train – eat – sleep – repeat mode. The usual life of a professional athlete. “I don’t miss anything here”, she tells me, “my family, of course, but nothing else.”

She won’t miss the family for long. After the final match of the year against Cheseaux, she will re-unite with the family and celebrate Christmas.

Volleyball CH: NLA Edelline Köniz vs TS Volley Duedingen
If its this far, there is little the opponent can do: Edelline Köniz vs TS Volley Duedingen on Dec 09, 2017 in Koeniz (Sporthalle Weissenstein), Schweiz, Photo Credit: Ulf Schiller 2017

(by the way: The season re-opener will be on Jan 6, 2018, 17:15 versus Galina)

Seven youngsters to watch in 2018

2017 was the best year for Swiss Athletics. As 2018 is looming, it is time to publish my personal watch list of 7 Swiss talented youngsters (in fact, 8, but see below). Of course, there are many more succesful super young stars like the international junior champions GĂ©raldine Ruckstuhl, Jason Joseph, Yasmin Giger, or Delia Sclabas. My aim is to go beyond the obvious and look behind the curtain. Therefore, I deliberately leave these amazing talents out.

Number 1. Annik KÀlin. LEICHTATHLETIK SM U20/U23 2017

The 17 year old heptathlete improved to 5664 points at the Swiss Nationals late in the season. Her strengths are the long jump and the hurdles.

Number 2. Stefan Wieland.

LEICHTATHLETIK SM U20/U23 2017

The 19 years old STB athlete threw the 6kg shot to impressive 18.29m, Swiss U20 record. His personal record with the 7.25kg shot is now 16.58m. He is better than Werner GĂŒnthör at the same age, despite of a broken foot early in the year.

Number 3. Gaëlle Maonzambi.

Swiss Athletics Night 2017-20171118-181420+0200-US-9309.jpg

The 16 year old triple jumper from Berne gathered bronze at the European Youth Olympic Games in Györ (Hungary). She was even nominated for the Swiss Athletics Youngster of the Year Award.

 Number 4a and 4b. Sales Inglin (l) and Finley Gaio (r) 

WELTKLASSE ZUERICH 2017

Regarding the hurdles all attention in 2017 was on the European Junior Champion Jason Joseph (center). However, there are two other talents, one year younger than Jason: Sales Inglin (left) and Finely Gaio (right). Sales achieved 13.47 secs and Finley Gaio 13.52 secs over the 10 obstacles. Both will have another year as juniors and the opportunity to attack Jason’s national record.

Number 5. Judith Goll.

untitled-8

Judith improved to 11.66secs over 100m. The 18 year old sprinter is “best of the rest” behind the six national relay runners, Mujinga Kambundji, SalomĂ© Kora, Sarah Atcho, Ajla del Ponte, Cornelia Halbheer, and Samantha Dargy.

Number 6. William Reais.

42. Pfingstmeeting 2017, 03.06.2017

Active in athletics since 2015, William improved to 10.60 secs over 100m and 21.15secs over 200m. Born in 1999, the 18 year old sprinter is not only a talent on the track, but also a good-mood machine.

Number 7. Lore Hoffmann

LEICHTATHLETIK SM 2017

Admittedly, Lore does not count as a “youngster” in a narrower sense. Let me call her a late developer. She was born in France (1996) and has a Swiss license since 2017. The EPFL student took the 5th place at the U23 Europeans in Bydgoszcz and improved her PB to 2:03.03. When you see her, you guess that this is not the end of the story.

Farewell Ellen

Yesterday was Ellen Sprunger’s last competition. The Weltklasse ZĂŒrich meeting was just the right stage for the end of her fine career.

I met Ellen in 2011 when she was a very young heptathlete and participated at the Hypomeeting in Götzis joint with her sister Léa. Still a pure hobby photographer, I took some snaps and sent them to her. I started following her career, not knowing that I would cross her paths over and over again after I became a semi-professional.

Years later, I became impressed by Ellen’s personality. I apologize for an absolutely amateurish psycho analysis, but here is my characterization.

  • She is passionate and stubborn – maybe a career as a runner or even a hurdler would have been the better choice for her… better in terms of world ranking places. But unlike her sister LĂ©a, Ellen never switched, because of her deep passion for the heptahlon (after a few beers, I agreed with the well known expert Guillaume Laurent that the 400m hurdles would have been her ideal discipline… maybe even at LĂ©a’s level).
  • She is friendly and empathetic. During her career she started working for disabled children – she once told me that this would be her dream job after the end of her career. Well, ambassador for the Special Olympics 2018 in Geneva will be a good start.
  • She is tranquil and self-controlled. Fans will remember one of the key moments of her career, the 4x100m final at the Europeans in Zurich. Mujinga Kambundji dropped the baton and the disappointment was huge. Understandably, it was hard to deal with the home crowd and talk to the media. The way Ellen did this was just impressive. Team spirit is very much a matter of managing bad moments. On this day, Ellen showed that she has team spirit.

So what remains of her career? She is a double Olympian, 2012 and 2016. She was Swiss athlete of the year in 2012 and 2013. Until 2016 she was member of the 4x100m relay that took its path from mediocrity to world class. At the 2016 Olympics, she was the secret leader of the team… “Mom” the giggling girlies (sorry) called her.

Her biggest disappointment will be that she failed to break the Swiss national record in the heptathlon. There is no doubt that she had more than just the potential to do so. An ugly injury at the Achilles heel (“the heel doesn’t heal”) held her up over many years. So her biggest desire, a world class heptathlon performance, remained unsatisfied.

Finally, her physical appearance always was part of her. A broad public became thrilled by her courageous competition at the London Olympics that peaked with the fourth discipline, the 200m. As a photographer, I am envious of Olivier Morin of Getty Photo who took the maybe best known picture when she celebrated her performance. “Ellen Sprunger… sixpack” is a suggested auto completion by Google still today.

Quite likely, the sixpack will go one day… passion and friendliness will remain.

 

 

Sport Portraits

Admittedly, sports photographers are not in the studio that often. Hence, compared to professional portrait photographers, I have a disadvantage. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to set up the lighting and how to let people pose. But just as any photographer will get some little details wrong in the arena, I lack about 10’000 portrait shots to get really everything perfect.

So how do you cope with the situation? You work with your strengths. I guess one of my strengths is that I can talk to athletes, because I was one. I know how they feel during training and competition.

So instead of directing them like models (‘look happy’, or ‘look serious’), I ask them to ‘look like you just climb the podium at the medal ceremony’, or ‘look like you are a few seconds before the start of the final’.

Also, I use poses that relate to the sport. This gives them confidence. I try to let them look strong, I let them play with their equipment, or I take pictures of the action.

 

 

 

Gear

OK, this blog entry is nerdy. It’s about gear in sports photography. It was triggered by the presentation of a new mirrorless camera that allegedly marks the end of the Canon and Nikon DSLRs. Just let me make clear: I have professional sports photography in mind. Nothing else.

Arjen Robben (FC Bayern Muenchen) Bundesliga 29. Spieltag: Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC Bayern Muenchen am 15.04.2017 in Leverkusen, BayArena, Deutschland. Canon 1DXii, 400mm F2.8

I’m talking about the new Sony alpha 9.The Canon DX 1 killer”. Folks, let’s face it!! Did I invest into the wrong gear?

So what’s my gear? Canon. Why Canon? Because several years ago I trusted an experienced photographer and artist who told me “Canon has the better colors”. So I bought Canon.

Meanwhile I have my fourth camera and many lenses. From 14mm to 400mm – the total cost I better do not mention. Does my gear do its job? Absolutely.  Do I think I need other gear or more? Maybe a second 1DXii. But it’s a minor wish that is kept under control by the cost.

VOLLEYBALL CUP FINAL 2018
Jovan Djokic im Schweizer Cup Final zwischen Biogas Volley Naefels und Volley Amriswil am 31. MĂ€rz 2018 in Fribourg (St. Leonhard-Halle), Schweiz, Photo Credit: Ulf Schiller: Canon 1DXii mit Sigma 120-300 f2.8

What’s the gear of my colleagues at football Bundesliga matches? Nobody (I repeat: nobody) has Sony. Rather, 50 percent have Nikon and 50 percent have Canon. Each of these photographers carries gear that costs at least as much as my gear.

Leichtathletik - Hypomeeting Goetzis - day2, 28.05.2017
Agnou Caroline (SUI); Leichtathletik – Hypomeeting Goetzis – day2 am 28.05.2017 in Goetzis, Moeslestadion, Austria

Given these sunk investments, will these people ever switch? Oh yes! They definitely will if there is progress. Cameras get replaced anyway if a new top model arrives. Given the limited life of cameras, buying a new one every four years makes absolute sense. You can’t wait until it breaks down. We’re talking about professionals here.

Sam Kendricks: Bronze medalist of the 2016 Olympics: Canon 1DXii with 400mm F2.8; Zurich Letzigrund.

What would be the arguments of replacing a DSLR by a mirrorless camera?

Weight, some people say. My answer is no. Why not? Think about the lenses. A 400mm F2.8 weights 3.5 or even 5kg. Can you make it lighter? That’s hard to imagine. Lenses are made out of glass. For 400mm/f2.8 we need a diameter of 14cm. Nothing will ever change this. You can’t change physics. Glass weighs. Period. The lens is the problem, not the camera.

Shooting with high frequency. DSLRs flicker when you track a subject while firing because the mirror moves up and down. Five or even ten frames are easy. But shooting for 3-4 seconds with 14 frames per second starts making you dizzy. I tried this out. It’s inconvenient. The new Sony shoots up to 20 frames per second without mirror and without flickering. This sounds like an improvement over the DSLRs. Moreover, the mirrorless cameras will have a longer lifetime. Wear of the mirror is no issue.

Jens Voigt – on his hour record ride in the Velodrome Suisse. Shot with Canon 7D at about 35mm.

Autofocus. The Canon and Nikon pro cameras have a tremendous autofocus. The Sonys never were equivalent. I didn’t try out the Sony a9, but reports claim that there is a massive improvement over the a7II. I trust the sources that report this. So maybe the new Sony has closed the gap here.

Bundesliga 29. Spieltag: Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC Bayern Muenchen, 15.04.2017
Phillip Lahm (FC Bayern Muenchen) verpasst das Siegtor. Bundesliga 29. Spieltag: Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC Bayern Muenchen, 15.04.2017

Haptic properties. Don’t claim that the world is different from what it is. 90 percent of the sports photographers are men. The Canons and Nikons are perfect for mens’ hands. The Sony body is much smaller. The same body as the alpha 7. Too small for mens’ hands.

Available lenses. Did you ever hear of a long Sony lens? When I say long, I mean really long. 400mm. And it should be fast: f2.8! I’ve never heard of such lenses. Unless they are around and their autofocus is working, there is no way, that Sony will enter the segment of professional sports photography.

Swiss Athletics Portrait Shooting 2017, 24.02.2017
Fanette Humair. Studio shoot. Canon 1DXii. 70-200mm.

Writing speed. The Sony a9 now has two cards. This is an improvement over one card. Sony closed a gap here. But wait… these are SD cards! How poor is that? The tests on the internet reported looooong delays when writing the picture information from the buffer on the card. I wouldn’t expect anything else. An absolute no go.

Conclusion: will I see Sonys replacing the dinosaur models by Nikon and Canon? Not within the next years. I am sure things are different at the hobby level or in other areas of photography. I wish Sony the latter success, so they keep motivated to work on the remaining deficits of their concept.

Football

As you might have noticed on my Facebook page, I added shooting football to my activities. In this blog entry, I’d like to explain how “it is like” to shoot Bundesliga matches.

The process starts one week before the match when you send the accreditation request to the club. One day before the match, I edit a preset (for my software “Photo Mechanics”) that defines the meta data (event, date, copyrights, etc.). Importantly, you also prepare a txt file with the shirt numbers, names, and clubs of the players.

I usually arrive 90-120 minutes before the match. First, I pick up the accreditation which will be handed out against valid press credentials (in my case, Swiss, the international AIPS press card will be required) and gather a vest that allows me to enter the infield. Importantly, this is the last time to eat and drink, because you are not allowed to carry food or drinks into the arena. Same safety rules for the press as for anybody else.

The first thing in the arena is to secure a spot where to take pictures. I usually choose a position in the guests’ half, because there is less competition with other photographers. Shooting is only allowed from behind the advertising barriers. Next I connect my computer to the internet using the provided LAN hubs. All cables are secured by gaffer tape so nobody will stumble and fall. After connecting card readers and external drives I make sure that everything is working as it should.

When the match starts, I try to get good shots as quickly as possible. I constantly exchange my cards, let the computer read the files and continue shooting with a second card. As soon as the match moves away from my camera, I select good pics on my computer for further processing.

Latest(!) 30 minutes after the beginning, I start editing and uploading. I select the best pictures, crop them and edit the metadata. Each photo needs a full caption, in particular, the names of the players, event, date, location. This is where Photo Mechanics plays out its strength. Most of the headline (event, date, etc) has been written into the Metadata already when ingesting. So the only thing left is a comment on who is doing what. Here my txt file (the one with the shirt numbers) is useful. Photo Mechanics provides “code replacements”. This works as follows:

/7F/ scores the 1-0 for /F/ and gets hugged by /CF/ and /32F/; …

Photo Mechanics uses my previously edited text file and replaces this by:

Florian Niederlechner (SC Freiburg #7)  scores the 1-0 for SC Freiburg and gets hugged by Christian Streich (Cheftrainer SC Freiburg) and Vincenzo Grifo (SC Freiburg #32); …

The dots indicate that information about the event etc follow. Immediately afterwards, I upload the picture on the server of the agency. It becomes directly visible for the customers.

The key principle is: be fast, very fast! If the exposure isn’t entirely correct, I don’t waste time, except if the picture is really important. What has been uploaded early, has the highest chances of being published. For instance, I almost never get pictures into the media that have been taken during the second half of the match, because most writers select the pictures at the halftime break (because they want to be out with their own report immediately after the match). What is not available at halftime, has virtually no chance of getting sold.

FAQs:

Do I shoot JPG or RAW? Both. But I read in the JPGs first and work with those pictures that don’t need editing other than cropping. The only reason to work with RAW is that the exposure is not correct (which may happen of course, because we have sunny areas and shady areas and – lets tell the truth – neither the auto exposure nor I are perfect).

Do I exchange lenses? Of course not. I have 2 cameras. One with the 400mm lens and one with the 70-200. I switch cameras, not lenses. And I wish I had three arms.

Do I check my pictures on the control screen? Yes I do, but very quickly. The only reason is to check whether the exposure is still correct or whether I moved one of the adjustment wheels without noticing. Some photographers rate pictures in the camera, but I don’t. If the picture wasn’t good, there is nothing I can do. So why bother? I postpone the evaluation until I see the pictures on the computer screen.

Can you get into the arena as a hobby photographer? Not in the Bundesliga. You must provide evidence that you have a professional task. However, why don’t you talk to volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, swimming, and other event organizers whether you may shoot for them? Usually, the organizers will be happy and grant you access. Make sure, that you know the sport, though. Also make sure that you know the safety rules that are extremely different from sport to sport. Maybe I write another blog about to do-s and don’t-s for photographers.

What do I do in the media center? Hmm. Pick up a drink and some food, and …? I can’t say. Thanks to the LAN access in the arena, I do my work there, not in the media center.