Camera Review: Canon EOS 7dii

What an amazing outcome. After the untimely (but fixable) death of my Canon EOS 6d I managed to acquire, one of the arguably best sports camera Canon produce the Canon EOS 7dii. This update from the 7d, has all the features the 7d had, but augmented to a modern platform.

I admit I may be a bit bias with this camera as its amazing.

Features the 7dii boasts are:

  • 20MP Dual-Pixel AF CMOS Sensor
  • 10 fps continuous shooting with autofocus
  • 65 all cross-type autofocus sensor
  • 150,000 RGB + IR pixel metering sensor
  • Dual Digic 6 processors
  • Enhanced environmental sealing
  • Compact Flash (UDMA) and SD (UHS-I) slots
  • USB 3.0
  • Built-in GPS
  • Larger-capacity LP-E6N battery
  • Shutter speeds up to 1/8000th seconds
  • Shutter rated to 200,000 cycles (vs 150,000 on 7D)

The shutter is something out of this world. Being used to the shutter speed the 6d had and then the 550d, the 7d’s shutter is like a Maclaren whereas the 6d is alike to a sports Citroen hatchback. What makes this even better is the 1/8000 capacity. Being able to shoot with higher shutter settings and a larger ISO range has just made everything that extra bit tasty.

Another mouthwatering feature that I fell in love with instantly must be the autofocus settings. With its 65 point AF for stills, the 7d has a range of sports settings as well applied to suit best static and dynamic sports. In this AF, borrowed from the 1dx, ‘Intelligent Tracking and Recognition’ (iTR). The iTR allows the photographer to initiate a point of focus, depress it with the shutter button and track the movement in the forefront of focus, wherever the initial subject ends up on the focus points. Pretty neat really.

Examples of photos from the 550d(left) and the 7dii(right) in dressage. The 550d being a good beginner DSLR needs a lot of attention with the slightest change of light and colour. the 7dii with the right settings needing no post production and beautiful quality images from the get go.

Another comparison, this time line outs in rugby. The 6d (right) has an amazing depth of colour that can be exaggerated in post production but due to the slow shutter it’s harder to get “the” moments. The 7dii(left) adapts well to light changes, although has not got the same capacity of low light and colour than the 6d.

Although the 7dii is an amazing camera, and I do love the quality of images it can produce, the low lighting is definitely inferior to the 6d. The low light colour quality of the 6d without the need of a flash really means I can concentrate less on adjusting my settings constantly and more on the subject matter. With the 7dii, I definitely found the lowlight aspect a constant challenge. In conclusion I am happy I have the abilities of both!

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 #9: American Football

Being an unconventionally British sport, American Football is steadily growing in popularity in the U.K. Mainly based at universities and community teams, the sport combines the best bits of speed, hard hits and strategy.

Taking photos of this sport is no different to other pitch sports, but note that it is more a of stop start game so there is more opportunity to follow the game along the sidelines and get alongside the action.

IMG_5133-132.jpg
With the turning of the season and the sun setting earlier and earlier, most games end with the sun starting to set. For this you need to have a camera with a good ISO capability so not to compromise the shutter speed which is the priority setting in this type of photography. Personally I avoid using flash in any sport situations, but some places allow flash set ups to help in night coverage but try and work around not having a flash.

This week I made a sound investment in the form of a monopod. Mainly due to having tendinitis in my elbow currently and my camera gear weighing over 2kg, having it constantly raised on my arm was not going to be a sensible option. Having a monopod not only saves the arms but also makes it easily to get to a consistent level and angle on the pitch as well as having a smooth rotation to follow plays. The only downside is the limitation of movement when the plays come very close to the sidelines.

IMG_4407-30.jpg

To really get good football photos you will need to be aware of the following:

  • The game itself, the rules, the plays, this is so you can anticipate them and then from there, get the best shots.
  • Watch the game while taking photos as usually the plays are repeated – making it easier for you to follow.
  • The atmosphere – know your sidelines, speak to the players if you’re in their box, speak to the spectators, get a feel of the game.
  • Watch for key plays like kicks, punts, and throws – prefocus on the player with the ball.
  • Remember there is a lot of players on the team.

IMG_4825-88.jpg

Settings to remember on your camera when approaching this sport:

  • ISO as low as you can unless it is dark (check your camera’s capabilities) set up an auto ISO
  • Shutter – nothing lower than 1/500 to avoid blur
  • Aperture, ideally you want something around f/5.0 but its nice to have shots with a very wide aperture as well – (especially if you have a 70-200m f/2.8 lens)
  • AI Servo setting (This is a personal preference but if you have a good autofocus system on your camera, you should really know whats best for your equipment… if not google is a great friend.)
  • Trial and error always try out before the game!

 

As always, thanks for reading and have another fantastic day and night!

Links to my sites:

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

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

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bar for Actual Sports (teams)

This isn’t my usual type of Blog post, but I just wanted to set a few things straight.

Aberystwyth is notoriously known for its pub scene boasting an impressive number of pubs for a small coastal town, but finally a bar has opened that is perfect for everyone including sports teams.
It’s hard for social sports clubs to go watch sports in pubs in town, as most pubs are mainly local orientated and usually costly. Bar 46 not only offers a range of draught beers and cider, but also several large screens with various sports. Not only that, there are plans to expand and offer even more sports to become a true sports establisment.

As the bar is newly opened and still has some work to go, the atmosphere gives a raw energy that is new and exciting, and certainly refreshing, especially for Aberystwyth. The walls offer a range of textures and colours, with raw wood panelling, contemporary wall paper and exposed lighting, giving Aberystwyth the modern feel that it has been sorely missing. With the ongoing work, the bar just screams potential and I among with many others are excited to see what the owners have planned.

The owners themselves were and are an integral part  of Aberystwyth University so not only have a fantastic understanding and know-how of the town and students, but also know the fundamental needs and requirements, and Bar 46 has been created to fill the void. Lewis and Delun are also very open and honest people who want to hear opinions and feedback to improve and give the people their cake, or in this instance 2 for 1 cocktails.

img_4271-13

The bar itself offers a great range of alcohol, from standard lagers on tap, carling and coors to beer and cider not offered on tap anywhere else in Aber, such as Rekorderlig Cider, Wolf Rack and Doom Bar Amber Ale. All the Draughts are under £4 for a pint so are friendly to the wallet. They also stock a great range of bottles including IPAs, fruit ciders, lagers and alcopops. Impressive so far right? There is also an amazing selection of spirits and cocktails. The best part? The cocktails are 2 for £10, and rival those at Libertines and Baravin, so it is worth the walk to the bar just for that.

img_4268-11

As I do technically work here, you may think of me as bias, but all the bar staff are great friendly people and create such a lovely atmosphere. Personally I hate it when I’m in a bar and the bar staff acts like they don’t want to be there, but all my colleagues I’ve spoken too say they don’t want their shifts to end as it’s so enjoyable.

I’m not usually one for that “sesh” life, but this bar, whether I’m working or out with the girls puts a pleasant bar/club atmosphere on the word. The bar has space for live music and DJ sets, which on last Wednesday night was pretty damn awesome.

img_4257-7

To check out this bar find it on facebook here.

 

As always, thanks for reading and have another fantastic day and night!

Links to my sites:

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

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

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

Snapshots #4: Horsing About Again

It is so good to be back in the arena with horses dancing round you. Equine photography has got to be a major passion of mine, and any event has reinforced this. As part of the university, Aberystwyth University Equestrian, AUE, have two riding teams A and B which compete in dressage and show jumping at home and away at various venues and on various horses. This year I’ll be travelling with them as a photographer which is a great experience for myself as well as fantastic news for them, as who doesn’t love a good action shot?

img_9987-65

I went along to the team tryouts, to get my eye back in and also for people to see themselves riding. As it was a relaxed day of riding, chatting and chilling with the horses, i took the opportunity to think outside my photo-minded box and take more candid photos of the horses and riders, as well as the standard straight leg and stretch in gaits.

img_9537-2

What also made a massive difference for me is this venue. Lluest is the University stables and recently they changed the arena floor from a dull mulch to a light wax based sand. As its a lot lighter being cream rather than brown, the lighting is absolutely phenomenal and highlights the beautiful movement in an almost under-lighting.

In my previous posts I’ve always said to focus on main elements of gaits and angles, ear forward and preferably with the rider smiling, but sometimes it’s nice to just take pictures. Saying this, it is always good to practise as well and get the shots spot on so the next time you can relax more and enjoy the shoot. Like this horse below.

IMG_0229-100.jpg

Look out for more equine photos throughout this academic year! And if you want to see the full tryout album you can find it here.

As always, thanks for reading and have another fantastic day!

Links to my sites:

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

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

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

 

Photography Tips #8: LAX to the MAX

After an action packed first week of lectures, matches, cheer and editing I can finally take a little extra time to reflect on my new experiences. The University has many many sports teams from sports I’ve never heard of like Korfball to the more common sports such as Football and also sports which I didn’t think were sports, like Korfball.* Having only played a handful of sports at High School and having little understanding of male dominated sports, Lacrosse has been one of those sports that I have always associated with all girls schools and didn’t really think it was a sport that was popular for men. I had the privilege to go along to a couple of home games, first watching the ladies then the men play Swansea’s respective teams and get my eye in on lax photography.

IMG_6809-84.jpg

The rules between mens and womens lacrosse vary quite distinctively, with mens being a lot more physical and aggressive than the ladies. If you do have any spare time to watch a game I would strongly advise it as it is an action-packed high paced pitch sport, perfect for anyone who enjoys watching rugby, American football or normal football.

Onto the Photography bit! I am so glad I have the 70-200mm lens. The f/2.8 aperture really is my new love in sporting images, like the one above. With the canon 6d being a full frame camera and therefore being a little bit slower with focus and shutter speed it isn’t always fantastic to have such a wide aperture so I find it better for the camera to sit between f/5.0 and f/8.0 at the very max. Again as its sports its full of action and movement so I try not to drop below 1/250 shutter, especially if it is a beautifully sunny day like the last couple weeks have been for me in Aberystwyth.

Not much else I can say settings wise so I’ll talk about the sport itself… Unlike other sports I’ve been taking pictures of, I have a very basic knowledge of lacrosse, my preconceptions coming from the aforementioned high school days and seeing small clips off popular TV and films. Like most sports its good to get the hits, the catches and the throws as well as the goals and saves. With lacrosse there is a lot of running with the ball, a lot of throwing and occasional catching as its a large pitch with tiny goals. Key aspects of the match that can be really good to capture are the face offs at the start and tackles, just keep your finger on the shutter release to get a good 4-7 shots to go through and get the main part of the action in post production.

IMG_7970-109.jpg

Another thing I’ve learnt that I’ll pass on, don’t be scared to talk to people there. Personally I feel awkward around people I don’t know but after doing different matches with new people and sport it gets a lot easier and also they can tell you what they are looking for in the photos as well as what to look out for. Its a great confidence boost!

As always, thanks for reading and have another fantastic day!

Links to my sites:

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

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

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

*(I jest, I just don’t understand it as a sport).

Photography Tips #7: Netball

Heading back inside with the onset of rain, wind and cold, brings new and exciting challenges to me as a photographer. Last week I photographed my first BUCS Netball game. From not playing netball since maybe my early teen years the sport is a little dusty in my memory. Netball is an intense, high-paced game that can go from super speedy passes down the court to slower shots at the net that took a while for me to get used to. Luckily for me the game is quite repetitive and measured in its rules as well as the aim being quite simple of scoring through a net.

img_5262-12

The challenges I faced with the Sports Cage however was not with the pace of the game but more with the colour of the walls. With outdoor photography you have to worry about having distractions in the background of vibrant colours of banners or unattractive lines of cars and housing. Inside the Sports cage the walls are a block shade of light green or blue. Getting a good colour balance of the green and blue walls and the fluorescent lights for me was more of a challenge than keeping up with the ball. Something I wouldn’t normally give a second look!

IMG_5276-13.jpg

I still enjoyed myself and will definitely consider going to another match to improve my own reaction time and knowledge of the game.

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: New Season, Same Settings

Now that the ferocious partying of freshers has passed, it’s time to get back into the swing of things at university and knuckle down for my final year of my undergrad. This term I’ll be working with more sports teams and hopefully more events and spill all the beans on my experiences!

Starting off early with Activities week I followed Tarannau, the American football and cheer team at Aberystwyth University both partaking in the sports and taking photos.

IMG_4530-9 copy.jpg

To kick start the year most sports teams instigate taster sessions to attract new members as well as refresh existing members from the summer off. Being a spectator and participant of drills and practise actually has helped me understand the sport better as well as give myself a chance to get back at it with the camera.

IMG_4664-7.jpg

With my summer being primarily shooting outdoors, it’s a nice change to be heading back indoors to follow sports such as archery, netball and cheerleading, and in some ways more relaxing as I won’t have the constant fear of lighting changes and the dangers that normally coincide with outdoor sports. With the slower pace of some indoor sports it’ll also give a great opportunity to be more creative, crackdown on actually getting lower or higher angles and also follow my unwritten rule of 45 degrees.

My general settings for shooting sports currently on my canon 6d are as follows:

  • Tv priority
  • Auto ISO  set up to 6400
  • shutter speed over 1/200
  • Aperture not exceeding f/6.0

Lets get this term off to a great start, 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.

img_1422-51

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.

img_1328-43

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 #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.

IMG_0399-36.jpg

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.

IMG_0234-25

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