Snapshot #3: Under the Floodlights, Literally

What is more exciting than taking pictures of mens rugby? Taking them at night, under floodlights. And if that is not good enough? Add some heavy rain.

Following Welshpool’s rugby team to Shrewsbury initially I assumed I would be practicing my framing and just adding some experience and images to my portfolio. Instead I was faced with a challenge. Shooting in low light with floodlights in drizzle.

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My camera, the canon 6d is fantastic in low light, I found this out when working in nightclubs, but unlike the 7dii that I aspire to upgrade to, the 6d has a lower fps therefore cannot capture the low light action that would perfect my shots.
Working in the rain also had its challenges. I had already accepted to compromise my images to have a higher ISO therefore have some grain to them, but with the addition of rain, its hard to differentiate between the grain from high ISO and the actual rain itself.

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Even with the compromise I am still happy with the shots I got, with just additional time in editing. If you have any advice for me on this topic, please don’t hesitate to comment!

As always I had a lot of fun shooting this match, thanks for reading and have a great day!

To see the full album, click here

Links to my sites:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/
website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

 

 

Snapshots #1: Holding onto the Holidays

Over the last few weeks nothing really has happened on Horse and Sport as I’ve been living it up in the beautiful French countryside. Due to the nature of my holiday I didn’t really take many horse or sport related photos but plenty of landscapes.

I am fortunate to have access to such a beautiful part of France, thanks to my parents who are in the process of moving out there. Over the last two weeks I’ve been exploring the more touristic scenes in my area including beautiful viewpoints, waterfalls, beaches and old buildings.

Usually I am expecting to spend my time in Normandy under my umbrella or huddled up in a thick jacket, alike to the weather I find back in Wales, but this summer seems to be an exception with temperatures soaring into the 30s, and the sky being marbled by fluffy white clouds.

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This first shot is from the top of the hill of La Petite Chapelle looking out towards the East. Used as a vantage point during World War II, it is easy to see how flat and green the landscape is, even seeing out to Le-Mont-Saint-Michel on the left hand side of the photo.
Not being a landscape or nature photographer, I’ve always had a difficulty of finding the best settings for these scenes. For this I used ISO 100 f9.0 and shutter of 1/320. Working with subjects all summer, it was a nice alternative to relax into my photography and draw in the colours and shapes around me. In this photo particularly, the lines of the horizon, trees and road really grasp my attention and make the photo in my opinion.

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The most photographed monument in Northern France, and world heritage site Le-Mont-Saint-Michel sits in an estuary between Normandy and Brittany. This medieval abbey attracts an incredible amount of people, tourists, locals and monks alike. This photo happens to be my favourite landscape photo I’ve taken to date. Again I shot with a ISO 100 f9.0 and shutter of 1/320. I love how the abbey seamlessly rises up from the fields of sheep and the winding sand of the estuary to the towering spire of the golden Saint-Michel perched in the azure sky.

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Last photo I wanted to share is another blue beauty, this time of the harbour wall of Port-le-Bessin. Another beautiful French Port town famous for its shellfish and its beach that is made up of scallop shells. I think I spent an hour taking pictures of the shells and the small town, and would definitely recommend spending half a day there. Again I was blessed with beautiful weather and a crystal clear sea that stretched into a beautiful aquamarine, broken up by boats and the odd seabird. If you look down the coast from this town to the west you’ll be able to see Arromanche-les-Bains and Gold Beach with the iconic Mulberry harbour still visible 70 years from its creation. Just another one of the reasons to visit Normandy!

Alas, until next time, keep snapping and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

Photography Tips #6: Sheep and Showmanship

When I first got a bit more serious about equine and show photography, admittedly I brushed off the idea of photographing sheep and cattle showing. I put this mainly down to my ignorance of not exactly understanding the showing of these animals, and definitely not understanding how one sheep is better than other sheep that looks identical to me. Regardless, it is a lot more tricky than it seems. Especially with sheep.
Again, I had the pleasure on Wednesday to work with Storm Equine Photography, this time to focus on the show itself than that of the horse rings. Sticking with their equipment of a Nikon D4 and the option of a sigma 70-200mm lens and a Tamron 24-70mm lens, I was equipped for the general show ground as well as getting the close ups of the smaller animals. In this case, Sheep.

IMG_4915-32Different people will tell you different things when taking pictures of sheep. Mainly they want pictures of their winning sheep with their rosettes looking all proud and sheep like. You could compare it to showing in hand with horses with rosette shots with the aspects of having the animal standing square, so when horizontally flush to the camera the animal will look like it has two legs, one at the front, one at the back. Depending on the breed, you’ll either want the ears “tidy” – this being straight to the side, forward, or back. With the majority of medium to large breeds such as Texels and Bluefaced Leicesters, breeders are looking for ears forward in my experience. However, unlike horses, sheep are tricky and don’t respond well to wavy arms, interesting noises or the general waving and shenanigans to get their attention for them to move their ears forward.

The best advice I can give for this type of photography is ask the owner/breeder/handler what they want and go from there. Get down to the same level of the sheep and make sure you shoot a burst incase the sheep twitches.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BRIONY-MOLLY PHOTOGRAPHY, CARDIGAN SHOW 2016.

 

Photography Tips #5: Running with more Rugby

With the rugby season creeping ever closer with pre-season friendlies in full swing, I got the pleasure to tag along to a Welshpool game. My experience with rugby photography has been strictly restricted to rugby 7s, being used to the smaller sides and faster pace.
Used to the fast pace and student atmosphere back in Aberystwyth, it was a refreshing change to  photograph a 15 a side game.

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Being an August weekend I was expecting the traditional British Summertime Weather of overcast with a bit of wind chill, but ended up pleasantly surprised with a cloud scattered sky allowing the sun’s warmth to break through. I stuck to shooting with my canon 6d and 70mm-200mm lens pairing shooting on the Tv mode. Due to the nature of the brightness of the outdoors I set an auto ISO cap at 2500. The aperture I changed between 5.0-7.1 depending on the amount of action formulating and the distance the play was from my position. Within this game I saw the benefits of having a 400m telephoto lens, with the action on the other side of the pitch being tricky to capture with the limitations of 200mm.

In my previous post I talk about where to stand on the pitch and composition that I find best for rugby 7s. It’s the same in 15 a side rugby. Trying to anticipate the action and staying nearer the try lines worked well for me this game as I got some fantastic angles.

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I speak highly of the 45 degree angle in horse sports being the magic angle and the same can be said in rugby. Rather than flat side or face on, it brings the action more life and just brings the plays out of the frame. This can be achieved by being further up the pitch than the play, so don’t be afraid to wander up and down the sideline. (Just don’t do a me and accidently knock people spectating with the lens hood!) Another great aspect of this match was the setting, having the rolling green hills as a backdrop allowing the players to be the key focus of the image. It is preferable not to get gaudy advertisements of block colours in the background as it detracts from the subject of the image, but if it can be captured on a lower aperture it usually won’t take away too much.

With this match I took around 480 photos, mainly on the short burst mode of plays, especially with line outs, rucks and breakdowns and passing try and get the perfect point of the pass/ catch or tackle. After looking through them on my laptop, cropping them and correcting the angles, I had around 50 photos I was exceptionally happy with!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or drop me a message on my website.

As always, thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

Website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BRIONY-MOLLY PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography Tips #4: Rugby 7s

As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve had some experience with sports photography especially with rugby. Being at a Welsh university its hard to not be involved in the sport one way or another albeit playing, spectating, refereeing or taking photos. In this post I’m going to talk about equipment I recommend and settings, positioning on the pitch and composition.

EQUIPMENT

For all my sports currently I use my Canon 6D with an EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Having this telephoto zoom is integral to get the best framed shots without losing out in quality. The wider aperture of f/2.8  is not essential as most sports you’ll want to shoot around f/4.0 but it adds to  shots and allows tacky backgrounds to be blurred out and create more focus on the play. Avoid shooting on fully manual, especially if you are shooting outdoors, instead stay with Aperture priority. You’ll want to have a fast shutter speed, nothing below 1/400 to get a non-blurry image. This paired with continuos shooting mode and AI Servo has the perfect set up to capture running shots without having to worry about blur and focusing issues. Talking about focus, keep all sensors open so the camera can automatically focus on the subject. Shooting in JPEG/RAW is all down to personal preference, but if you are in a print on the day environment, JPEG offers a faster buffer speed and still holds good quality.

r3.jpgPOSITIONING

There are many posts in forums debating on whether you should stay at certain lines and wait for the action to come to you, or stay in line with the plays and go to the action yourself. Staying at certain lines means that if there is an offensive break, you can capture it more aptly if you are down the end of the field away from the plays, but it can mean that you miss an important play and therefore an important shot. Again this down to personal preference if you want to follow the plays up and down the pitch and get to the action that way, or wait for the action to come to you. This also boils down to the gear you use as well, if you have a zoom lens up to 400mm its better to find different positioning than follow the play as you have the zoom advantage. My personal preference is to follow the action mainly due to the 200mm limit of my lens as well as to follow plays better.

 

 

COMPOSITION

r1.jpgLike all sports photography, understanding the sport is essential to get the shots that people are looking for. If you haven’t watched a rugby match before, go out and find a match to spectate or look at recorded matches online. It also helps to read advise from others, look on forums, blogs, ask friends, anything that can give you more insight can and will help. Look for key plays such as passing, line outs,tackles, rucks and breakaways. Never watch the game, shoot the game, anticipate the plays and usually the composition will come with following the action. If you can get lower to the ground, if you are tall like me standing to take photos can occasionally make the plays look small and not as exciting or miss out action. Another important aspect again is framing, get the whole play in, or keep the image tight to the centre of the action.

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The editing process should highlight your good images and your bad images. Don’t be afraid to be critical on yourself, and always have a second opinion close by to help hone your skills. Ideally you want to get the shot as you take it and not rely on software such as Photoshop and Lightroom, so take note on your good and what you can do to improve your bad.

And Remember: Have fun, laugh, smile and enjoy yourself!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BRIONY-MOLLY PHOTOGRAPHY, ABER 7S 2016

 

 

Photography Tips #3: Handling In Hand Showing

Over the past few days I’ve been running all over, shadowing in photography and working hence the delayed post, but here is another insight into my work with Storm!

Another aspect of equine photography that isn’t necessarily something you’d give a second thought to is showing in hand. Not as thrilling to watch as jumping or dressage but equally as skilled and beautiful.

The idea is essentially simple, get a horses best movement as well as the handler in a tight central shot. The problem for this is that there is no longer one aspect of horse and rider, it doubles as horse with handler.

To start of like any type of photography think of where the best pictures will be. Make sure you shoot away from the sun and that the background isn’t overcrowded with vibrant colours and shapes. Also make note of the weather, if there is going to be quick changes of light with an overcast sky, make sure you have settings prepared for this sudden changes, so again set an auto ISO and stick with an overcast or AWB.

IMG_4832-24.jpgLets start with a standing shot. Ideally you want to be 45 degrees on to horse to see its full length and get a good face angle. You also want the horse to be standing square – front legs evenly apart and back legs parallel to this.  Second part is to make sure the ears are forward. There are several tricks for this, such as asking the handler to feed the horse some grass, wave at the horse or get someone to make noises so the horse looks over. Finally you want to have handler looking relaxed and not awkward.  In this example on the left the cropping is a bit tight on the horse and ideally there would not be a traffic cone in the middle ground.

 

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Walking shots are a bit more tricky as its a natural 4 beat movement. Also due to the pace of this gait its hard to get the stretch as you would get in trot, canter and gallop. Ideally you would want to capture the stretch of the leg closest to you or the step into it, as pictured to the right. Again you want the horse looking relaxed and settled, and ideally with his/her ears forward.  Ideally you want to have the handler fully in shot and not blocked by the horse, ideally between 0 and 90 degrees from the front of the horse.

 

 

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Trot is a 2 beat gait so easier to grasp a rhythm to. To find the best shot you need to get the triangles and parallels ideally on the right leg, so the inside leg is the one extended forward and fully straight. The horse wants to be moving forward with a good neckline, and ideally with his/her ears forward. Again you want to find the best angle to show off horse and handler as well as getting the obvious of eyes open and happier looking facial expressions. In the example to the left here the handler is blocked therefore making the photo look messy. The horse is also not fully stretched and the photo is taken on the wrong leg making the horses hind legs look unbalanced. The tail is also blurred slightly so a higher shutter speed as well as a narrower aperture would fix this.

Again it is important to remember that practise does make perfect and this kind of photography takes time to get right! Be critical with your own photos after the event and make note on what you need to improve on next time you go out on shoot. Also try and get feedback from horse riders and handlers as they are the customers, and they usually know best.

Have fun, laugh, smile and enjoy yourself!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BRIONY-MOLLY PHOTOGRAPHY, CARDIGAN SHOW 2016.

 

 

 

Photography Tips #2: Capturing the Clear Round

Today I had the privilege of shadowing with Storm Equine Photography, as small business based in Ceredigion specialising in horse photography, and they are very very good at it. From working with them today here are the few things that I took from it all.

I was working with their equipment, in this instance, a Nikon D4 paired with a sigma 70-200mm lens. This camera has amazing capabilities and to get the best shots you can use all of its fantastic features. For instance using the auto ISO sensitivity to not go past 6400 and not letting the shutter speed drop down lower than 1/250, as show jumping is a fast paced sport in which you need a fast shutter and quick light reactor, especially when working in overcast conditions or in an indoor arena.  Its always best to shoot in an aperture between f4.0-5f.6 to get the full focus of the horse and rider. This may start to seem noisy, but its an easy fix post shoot and not very noticeable.

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Framing the photo is just as important as getting the settings right. For a good frame you want to have the rider’s centre to be central. Ideally you want the horse in the centre of the jump, mainly as it shows symmetry and balance in the horse and rider as well as making the picture look symmetrical. Ideally you would want to get both wings of the jump in to frame the jump and also give the jumps height. Also leave space for above the riders head as well as a small space for the flooring to give room for cropping and straightening, especially if you have a slight cant like me.

Another fantastic point I picked up is that you want to get the shot from a 45 dej1.jpggree to capture the length and depth of the leap the horse is taking. This works especially well for landscape shots. To work portrait its better to work tight to the subject, incorporating the the horses tucked front feet, the rider and the top bar. In this example you can see how the horse and rider fills the frame completely making it a more dramatic shot.

Something else to consider is what part of the leaping action makes the best photos. In the two examples here you can see that its the take off, clearly showing the horse’s jump and folded front feet and the rider looking balanced. Anything past the horizontal jump and the drop down generally looks messy although some people like it as an artistic shot, especially if the horse has a great shape and the rider looks engaged.

When “walking the course” notice the direction the rider is going to be riding in and find a position that can capture 2-3 jumps, try and include the branded/sponsored jumps as these are usually the shots riders and sponsors want. Make sure you aren’t in the way of the horse either, it may seem silly but getting a shot and you’re standing in the path of a fast moving block of muscle is not a good idea. Keep clear of the jumps that haven’t been jumped and make sure you give yourself time to reposition yourself.

Things to remember and not stress about:

  1. There is nothing wrong with taking long bursts. The beauty of DSLRs means that its not the end of the world if you take too many pictures, you can simply go back and delete the ones you don’t want.
  2. Too wide is better than too close. In framing if you aren’t sure always leave the shot slightly wider, you can always correct it in the edit.
  3. There is more than one jump in a course, don’t beat yourself up if you miss one, but try not to.
  4. Relax, Breath and enjoy yourself! Even if it is work theres no point getting in a tiff and stressing out about taking photos? Enjoy it!
  5. Practise makes perfect. Reading and doing research is one thing but actually getting out and trying it for yourself are two different things! Get out there and do stuff!

Have fun, laugh, smile and enjoy yourself!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BRIONY-MOLLY PHOTOGRAPHY, WITH THANKS TO AUE.

Student Life and Sport

It’s been a while since now since I was riding every week and seeing all these horse shows and posts from my friends with horses has me craving to get back into the saddle again.

Theres something about riding, albeit a little hack, schooling or competing that no other sport can offer – and I’m not talking about the smell of horse, leather and manure. All sports give you the muscle ache at first but there isn’t anything like a horse riding ache. Unless of course its a throbbing head from going head first into the wall, floor or jump from a particular fall.

Unfortunately like a lot of activities horse riding is a big spend, not just on lessons but the equipment you need such as a proper hat, proper fitting boots, jodhpurs and comfy clothing in general. Its now at the tender age of 21 I realise the amount of time, money and effort my parents put into my passion of everything horsey. As a student its hard to balance finances for living with the bare minimum of a roof overhead and super noodle meals, let alone factor in the cost of any extra activity that is bound to make that extra step into the overdraft.

As a student however, there are perks, especially being at Aberystwyth University that has top quality riding facilities as well as a lovely riding club that is very affordable and offers opportunities such as discounted lessons and long hacks in the Rheidol valley, Cardigan Bay and on the beach. If this isn’t worth the extra strain I don’t know what is. (They also have excellent socials.)

Another bonus of being in Mid-Wales is the number of stable yards about. It does help to have a mode of transport as the villages and towns are spaced few and far between, but offer great facilities not just for horse riding but for all sports including skiing, kite surfing, water sports and most match orientated sports.

Still even without the actual participation, spectating and improving my photography skills still gives me that excited lilt on life that appeared to be missing.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the saddle by September and pick up the reins from where I left off as an overexcitable girl, teenager and now young adult.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

Photography Tips #1: Going Equine

To be successful in any areas you need to have the three basics:

  • Understanding
  • Commitment
  • Passion

Without these three essentials any plans to work in that sector you might as well throw away. This is especially with my understanding so far with Equine sport photography.

Forget all you know about artistic photography. No one wants a rule of thirds framed image of their horse looking all candid at a competition. It’s all about full framed action shots that look easy to get but are far from it.

Understanding  – lines, triangles and squares

Do you know what you are taking photos of? You need to understand the movement of the horse before trying to capture it, what is it that horse people look for?

leg triangle.pngFor any gait you need to find the extended stretch to show off the full movement, flexibility and balance of the animal. Horses being quadrupedal means that there are two more legs to worry about than the usual, use this to your advantage and look for parallel lines in the legs as the horse extends its gait. Another shape to look for in movement is triangles. Every horse person likes a good triangular strided horse.

 

ears.pngWhen a horse is still you need to find the square shots, the horse’s stance is square and balanced, its ears are facing forward making its face symmetrical and rectangular as well as giving it the intelligent look. You also need to consider the rider, where are they in the saddle, do they have good contact with the reins and most important do they look like they are enjoying themselves?

Commitment  – practise does make perfect

On a post one of my Facebook friends shared was the statement that 10000 hours of practising something will make you the master of it, albeit sport, music or a language. I don’t fully agree with the whole 10000 hour part but the principles of committing yourself to your cause, perseverance and pushing yourself to get to the next level.

In photography you can grasp the basics of a DSLR and read all about the artistic rules and see what Instagram filters can offer, but there is nothing on practising or pushing yourself to get the opportunities to improve yourself. If you don’t put yourself out there, how are you going to gain the experience and knowledge you desire?

From the first equine photo I took to the most recent I have seen a miraculous improvement. The main improvement being seen over the last six months with the improvement of understanding and of course the practise and reading I have made myself do in order to improve.

Passion you get what you put in

You hear people using the word passionate a lot when in interviews or applying themselves to jobs, it may seem unimportant but it is severely underrated. How can you do a job that you don’t have the heart for?

With Equestrian photography particularly having the love for both the subject and the camera is essential. If you love being around horses then there is no issue with taking pictures around horses.

From personal experience, if you are enjoying watching the sport then you normally get better shots, longer stamina and better focus. There is nothing more enjoyable to me than seeing a horse and rider or handler showing their hard work and then seeing their excitement when it pays off with a red, blue or yellow ribbon.

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It may seem easy when read from a amateur blog page, but after the last year or honing my skills I still have a long way to go to be up in the big leagues, but hopefully with my perseverance and continued support and encouragement from friends and family one day it will happen!

Thanks for reading and if you have the time, leave me a comment or check out my sites in the links below!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

All photographs from Briony-Molly Photography, with thanks to AUE for Dressage photos and Cardigan County Show for in hand opportunities.

“Amateur Sports Photographer”

“You seem good with a camera, you should photo some matches”

The first time I realised that sports photography would become a passion of mine, I didn’t even consider it an option for me. Since the tender teenage age of 14 I have had an interest in photography, but never been too serious, snapping pictures at horse shows and of my cats. It wasn’t until my first year at Aberystwyth University that I became heavily involved in the idea of sports photography.

 

Starting off as a real amateur still finding my feet with settings and handling the manual control on my old Canon 450D, I managed to find ways of capturing sports via the university archery club. Looking back on the start of it all I find myself holding my teeth in a cringe-like fashion, did I really think that this was good? Moreover, I am more astonished that my friends thought I was that good. But, from that point I improved and branched out to more and more sports with the help of my beloved friends and supporters. Seriously don’t know if I could have done it on my own.

Most of the time I would be approached with “You seem good with a camera, you should photo some matches.” or “I see you have a camera, fancy coming to take pictures of our games.” To begin with, it seemed hard working with people I didn’t know or even let them know what I was and where they could even see my work.

pub1This perseverance paid off and in 2015 I managed to have my first published work in Archery GB magazine of some Clout competition photos I had taken of Aberystwyth and Bangor University, a result that I could only have dreamed of! I had been emailing publications with images and little stories of the sports for a few month previous and seeing this at my local archery range made the endless emails worth every moment. It began the turn of my serious hobby to the idea of a serious career.

Within the University itself I have had a lot of opportunities for practise and getting my name out there with the large sporting events they offer such as their internal Super teams and the external Aber 7s tournament. Aber 7s 2016 treated me very well, with the Students Union naming me their official photographer for the weekend, only emphasising my passion of sports photography. This is also apparent with sports teams themselves including the opportunities to travel with Tarannau Cheerleaders to Birmingham and with the University Equestrian team to Anglesey.

I intend to post updates on my experiences as an amateur sports photographer, working with University teams, shadowing professionals and general camera-isms I’ve learnt!

A quick thank you to everyone who has supported me so far and helped me get to where I am today, even if I have been unbearable the last three years!

 

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography