Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Out of my Comfy Zone; Shooting a Polo Match

Yesterday, I talked about shooting Birds, Bugs and Butterflies and working in my comfy zone.

Sunday, Becky and I were out driving through Hamilton, Massachusetts. In a corner of the town is the Myopic Hunt Club. Yes, Myopic as in myopia.  A few of the founding members had bad eye site and I imagine a bunch of nervous hounds.  The sign said “Polo Sunday” and the “Public Welcome”.  Well, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s do it!”

DSC_0016We drove up to the gate and were met by the gentleman in the sport coat. He looked at us and wondered why we were bewildered.  “Is it the coat?”, he asked?  “No, we’ve never been to a polo match before and don’t quite know our way around.”  

He explained that we could park in various spots, stay out from between the black rails (lest we get trampled by ponies) and enjoy the afternoon. He suggested that we bring a picnic lunch when we come next week. We paid our entrance fee and picked a good spot.

Those that follow me know that I shoot a almost 95% of my stuff in aperture priority mode.  I also set my ISO sensitivity very low to get sharp pictures. That’s what we wildlife photographers do.

Now I’m going out of my comfy zone.  I’m going out to shoot a subject that I know almost nothing about, polo, in a genre that I haven’t shot since high school, sports, and on top of that I’m going to shoot shutter priority. And if that isn’t bad enough I’ve got the wrong gear for the job! The field is 300 yards long and I’ve got my 18-200mm which hasn’t felt so well since I dribbled it across the kitchen floor. “Oh well,” I said to Becky, “I’ll just take some practice shots.”


With that introduction, I present to you my first attempt at shooting a sports event in aperture priority with the wrong gear set at a higher ISO while trying not to get trampled at an event that I know nothing about.

This is North America’s oldest polo field that is still being played.


Not to leave you with the idea that I was clueless about this whole photo shoot.  In wildlife photography, especially with birds and bugs, I want to control the depth of field.  With sports photography, it is a different ball game.  (sorry) The action is happening fast and I do not want my attention on the gear.  And I do need some a deal of depth of field.  After a few test shots, I chose 1/400 second shutter speed as a good setting to freeze the motion and get a fairly low ISO setting of 320 to 400. This gave good DOF with f8 to f22 depending on conditions.

So go ahead, get out of you comfy zone.


hip chick said...

Great pictures. I haven't been there since I was a kid. I grew up in Marblehead and we used to go every once in a while. You have inspired me to go at least once this summer.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Well I would say you did darn well Steve!! :)

Eve said...

Now you can handle just about anything Steve. These are wonderful. I'm glad you and B made the discovery.
I love the photo of the white horse with all four off the ground!

Kerri said...

I think you did a FABULOUS job Steve!! And sounds like you had FUN too :)

Jenn Jilks said...

Rather old dogs, new tricks?! Good to learn something new. Well done. I am still struggling to photograph in My Muskoka ! Making progress.

Tabib said...

I expected you shot concert or pretty model! ;)

In or out of comfort zone , you did all so good.

Roy said...

Looks pretty good to me Steve. Tally Ho!!

Mike Simmons said...

Excellent job, Steve! You're inspiring! I'd say you've got a new comfy zone. The video (slide show) is fantastic! Great idea!

A New England Life said...

I'm taking notes. Hopefully it will come into my memory when I need it!

Cindy said...

You're hired! Would be the word on the field. Great pictures!

The Early Birder said...

You did good. I'll store those tips away for the appropriate day. Cheers...FAB.

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