This summer, I’ve been trying to photograph sports to widen my skills and experience a but. So I went to take pictures of pole vaulters, vaulting against the Tyneside scenery. It was a cloudy day as you would normally get in Newcastle in September so I decided to use Ilford Delta 3200 film. This is obviously very fast but I’m not happy with the results. I got into a good position and I definitely had the film speed to use fast shutters that the action needed but the film hasn’t responded as well to the slightly dim conditions as I’d hoped – a little bit too grainy.
Still, the athletes threw some interesting poses against the skyline. I’ve used a lot of tonal balancing on these shot using Photoshop. I decided to move a bit closer and changed over to HP5+, 400 speed film.
More nice shapes and there’s no issue with the slower film speed. Although the ladies are moving quickly, it is possible to predict when and where in the frame they will be. I didn’t need the super fast film to be able to get the action and with 400 speed, I’ve avoided the grain.
Having watched things from the crash mat end, I went to the other end of the runway to see Becky Holliday of the USA up close. These are shots I would never have gotten in a stadium setting.
I saw so much more than I would on TV. During the preparation, they normally cut to another event and just follow the pole vault for the actual run and jump. From about twenty feet away I could see the concentration and all of the little tasks that go into the pole vault before the actual vault. The eyes focused on the bar, talc rubbed on the hands, the excess rubbed off on the shorts, resting the pole on one shoulder and getting the stance before take off just right. I didn’t know they had gum shields – seems obvious to me now.
The above is my favourite and I hope it catches the athlete’s focus and concentration. There’s no cropping and only a little level adjustment. I would have liked to get round to see more of her face but that wasn’t possible without a track pass. The shoulders and the sinew in the arm looks good and the background is nicely out of focus. Shame about the guy on the left whose looking at his phone too much. Overall a good use of two rolls of film.