Aber-geddon: Rugby 7s

My fourth and final Rugby 7s as a University student. Time flies and it’s quite hard to believe that I’ve come this far in terms of photography and getting back into sports!
From 2013 Rugby 7s in Aberystwyth, equipped with a 450d, a tamron 70-300mm lens and no proper grasp on sports photography to 2017, with a canon 6d and canon 7dii equipped with a 70-200m f/2.8 lens and a 25-105mm f/4.0 lens. My technique, understanding and equipment have brought me into a whole new level of photography and looking back at Rugby 7s makes me nostalgic, thankful and slightly embarrassed of my photographic and sporty origins.

From working with the Archery “Hawkeyes” to Tarannau’s “Squirtle Squad” and “7UP”, it’s been a laugh.

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Progress is beautiful and I recommend everyone to reflect on how far they have come. If you are having a bad day, know that you are better than last year’s you, even better than 2 year ago you, and a completely new level from 3 and 4 year ago you. Yet there is still more work to be done as every opportunity is another learning experience to capture. Push boundaries, and if you feel its not working go back to basics. A wise friend of mine who has coached me with photography and my life reminds me how far I’ve come and not to worry. We all need that friend.

Anyway onto the actual weekend of Aber 7s 2017….

Promising to be not as windy or rainy as the previous years have been, this Aber 7s brought together students, locals and ex-students from across the country and in some cases, the world.
After Squirtle Squad’s triumph last year of actually winning something, this year was full of determination to maintain silverware. Alas, it was not to be. After being unstoppable on the Saturday, the team’s momentum diminished by Sunday.
Usually, I masquerade as a photographer, but my final year I decided to have a go at playing. I had been training on and off and a good understanding of the game due to past experience watching and documenting 7s and 15s rugby. Coupled with my stupidly fearlessness and simple disregard for me being breakable, who could deny me for trying.
Unfortunately, I got tackled quite hard in a game meaning I had to continue as a spectator – for the best really, but hey I played rugby 7s! (and loved it)

Anyway Thanks for the read – I’ll update my sporting ventures soon after I’ve properly moved!

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

 

 

Varsity 2017

As with most other universities across the U.K. Aberystwyth engages with their rivals Bangor in annual sports-day-esque event known as Varsity. Each Uni bi-annually hosts the competition, seeing the likes of sports and societies alike to put forward their best and brightest to win the beloved silverware. This year Aberystwyth hosted the competition inviting around 50 sports clubs to the Aberystwyth area to compete over a week.
As an avid sports photographer of course I wouldn’t miss this opportunity to run about, or in my case walk briskly, with my camera to get all the sports on my cards.

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Saturday I managed to get solid pictures of American Football, Lacrosse, Rugby and Football. A good mix and an enjoyable selection. This is my personal experience.

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What irritates me most however about Varsity is the the sideline “Banter.” There is a line between a joke and a couple of jeers on the other side and then full out discrimination. Last year Aber was faced with Bangor students throwing carrots and bananas at a rugby player and reports of many racial and homophobic slurs also agitated the Aber sides. This year after being told relentlessly to keep it civil, the banter from Aber has been a lot more tame than last year with British insults like “Bangor uses tea bags twice” replacing the more aggressive attacks.
However the retaliation from Bangor on the sidelines especially from their ladies lacrosse was vile towards the players and spectators, especially shouted through a megaphone.

Personally I heard someone from the other uni telling Aber students to “go kill yourselves” as we are at a sh*t university. A little harsh and non-understanding when the sole cause of our and their varsity kits is to a foundation Stephan Socks after a student who unfortunately did not have the support in mental health issues and tragically took his own life last year. This type of behaviour is more than despicable and personally I expected better than that from Students who are supposedly adults aged 18+. This kind of behaviour I expect from teenagers in high school or online. Disgusted. Not only this but fights broke out both on and off the rugby pitch, to be expected in the sport, but the blood was definitely boiling between the Universities.

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This is why I didn’t compete myself in Archery, as in previous years I’ve felt intimidated in the wrong way. Intimidation in sports is a usual concept, the side is larger than you, better than you; its all the norm in competitions, it’s a normal feeling. Being intimidated by aggression is not. I’d much rather blackout away from the world with my camera to get action shots than be apart of an aggressive crowd or be engaging in an uneasy match.

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All this being said I did enjoy my time at Varsity, as amongst the idiots in the crowd there are still humans that are there for their team, there to watch a good game,console with the losing side and celebrate with the victors. This was apparent in both Aber and Bangor sides alike, and I must say that I’m not saying all the spectators from Bangor were out to hurl insults and discriminate. Bangors overall victory in sports is disheartening for Aber, but our victories in Rugby makes us a proud Welsh University.

Shout out to Aber mens LAX and Tarannau for being superstar teams this last season. It’s been a pleasure taking pics for you!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

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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