December 16, 2009

Umpires

The David Shepherd hop

Hamish Blair
 © Getty Images
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Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to read my last post and thanks again for all the comments.

I'll start by answering a few of the questions I've received from the previous posts.

Firstly, someone said they'd heard on radio I always wear a pink shirt when I'm working at the cricket. Not quite sure where this comes from! The only thing I can think of is the bright vests Cricket Australia give the photographers to wear at the matches to identify them. Most photographers wear yellow, but Getty photographers wear orange to identify them as Cricket Australia's official photographers. I know orange isn't pink, but that's the only thing I can think of! Even so, I'm not in Australia at the moment, so I'm missing out on wearing shirts and vests of any colour to the cricket for the time being!

On to another question, there have been a couple of requests for more technical details of the shots such as shutter speed and aperture etc. Where I still have this information I will try and include it in the future.

For those who do not know a lot about the technical side of cameras and exposure, I'll try and give a quick crash course. A photo's exposure is determined by three variable settings; shutter speed, aperture and ISO rating.

Shutter speed is the length of time the shutter inside the camera at the end of the lens stays open when a photo is being taken to expose the light-sensitive digital sensor (or film a few years ago) to the light from the subject being photographed. The cameras I use range from shutter speeds of one-8000th of a second all the way to 30 seconds and can even be set to stay open longer if needed (I never have!). The slower the shutter speed the more light the camera allows on to the digital sensor.

Aperture is the size of the hole in the lens that the light passes through. This is adjustable and confusingly a large aperture (a big hole) gets a small number and small aperture gets a big number! The lens I usually use at the cricket has a maximum aperture of f4. The larger the aperture the more light it allows to pass through to the sensor.

ISO (International Standard Organisation) rating is a measure of how light sensitive the digital sensor (or film) in the camera is. This can also be adjusted; however, making the sensor more sensitive (for use in poor light) can make the images appear grainy. My cameras range from 100 ISO, high quality and low sensitivity through to 3200 ISO, lower quality and high sensitivity.

Setting the exposure to take photos is a matter of balancing these three variables to suit the light available.

Generally when shooting sport, a high shutter-speed is used, I like to be at least 1000th of a second or faster where possible. This gives the best chance of 'freezing' the action without a fast moving subject (like a batsman swinging the bat!) blurring.

I also use a large aperture. This is for two reasons, firstly the larger the aperture the more the light reaching the sensor, which allows a faster shutter-speed to freeze the action. Secondly, aperture has another effect on the photo. The smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field. This means objects further away (eg. the crowd in an action photo) from the focussed subject (the batsman or bowler) will appear in sharper focus. This can be distracting and large aperture keeps only the subject focussed and the background out of focus.

The ISO is set as low as possible to obtain the highest image quality. But this is compromised by the quality of the light. A bright sunny day will allow a low ISO, an overcast day will need a slightly higher ISO and sport played under floodlights at night will need higher again.

Time to talk about today's photo. There have been a couple of requests for a photo of David Shepherd signalling the Nelson. This one is from a one-day international between England and Australia at The Oval on July 12th 2005, David Shepherd's final international match as an umpire. Batting second, Australia needed 229 for victory, which they reached very comfortably. A few balls before reaching the target, Damien Martyn took a single that took the score from 221-2 to 222-2 and for the last time David Shepherd did his Nelson skip.

From a technical view point, this was not a very difficult photo. The only issue would have been if Martyn had taken a second run, so the score had never stopped on 222! Aside from that it was a matter of being aware when the moment came and focussing on Shepherd and taking the photo. The shutter-speed used was 1000th of a second, as mentioned this high speed stops the action, although there wasn't a great deal of movement and it certainly wasn't happening quickly! The aperture was f5.6 which is quite large, meaning the crowd in the background is completely out of focus, bringing the attention of the photo on to Shepherd. As it was a sunny day I was able to use a relatively low 320 ISO which allowed for good image quality.

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Hamish Blair is a Melbourne-based photographer for Getty Images

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Posted by Mike on (June 28, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

depends on how much light there is, how far you are from the stage, if you want the musician prrolpey exposed but the background dark, etc.For example, if you are far, you will need to zoom in; however this means you will need to use a faster shutter speed (to eliminate camera shake), but the faster the shutter speed,the darker your pictures will come out (or they may not come out at all). You will need to have your lens wide open' (i.e. large aperture/low f-stop) to let in as much light as possible. Flash is fairly useless in this case (and will most likely give you redeye).If you are close and you don't mind using flash then you have more leeway in your settings. Although if the band is using mood' lighting you might ruin the mood if you shoot a hundred flash pictures . . .References : taking pictures at a concert (from the crowd)

Posted by bandsxbands on (February 8, 2010, 10:19 GMT)

I share a love-hate relationship with digital memory because of how prices are always,and I domean always falling. I absolutely hate buying Micro SD Cards for my R4 / R4i at (seemingly) a bargain price only to see it become a whole lot more cheaper a few weeks later.

(Submitted on NewPost v2 for R4i Nintendo DS.)

Posted by hemant brar on (December 28, 2009, 6:09 GMT)

mr. blair, i really look forward to your blog. so please add a new shot soon....or atleast make an update weekly.........

Posted by hemant brar on (December 25, 2009, 9:04 GMT)

hi hamish sir..... would like to see shane warne for this christmas.... as your profile says you started in 1996, so can't ask about viv, sobers, lille etc. But i hope you would have clicked warne a few times....or any of your best shots...mark waugh's will also do.....

Posted by Harsh on (December 18, 2009, 11:37 GMT)

Hi Hamish,

Awesome shot to remember a great personality!!!!

Could you suggest some techniques to shoot in day night matches? I was taking photographs at a Champions League match in Delhi recently and could not reduce my shutter speed below 1/80.. as a result, i could not freeze the bat as much as I wanted to.. I used a Canon Powershot SX 10IS with a 560mm lens.

Thanks,

Harsh

Posted by Anupam Mukerji on (December 18, 2009, 11:05 GMT)

Hamish, one of the most elegant cricketers I have ever seen is Mark Waugh. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, there wasn't one inelegant bone in his body. Heck, even his dropped catches looked pretty. I am sure you'd have many pictures of Waugh Jr. Now, this is a strange request. Have u captured him in a situation where he looks uncomfortable or inelegant? If you don't have any, can u post ur favourite Mark Waugh click?

Posted by Shekar on (December 18, 2009, 6:47 GMT)

Ecellent shot man.... A tribute to David Shepherd... he had an amazing charm to control the game when things were getting our of captain's hands....

Posted by Arsh on (December 18, 2009, 1:29 GMT)

Good blog! I have a question though, what is the longest lens do you guys carry around and what is the lens you guys use most often?

Posted by Arsh on (December 18, 2009, 1:29 GMT)

Good blog! I have a question though, what is the longest lens do you guys carry around and what is the lens you guys use most often?

Posted by Dunga on (December 17, 2009, 23:43 GMT)

You take really great pictures. The great thing is not just capturing an incredible or sentimental moment (the Gilchrist photo or this one) but just capturing moments in itself, being aware enough to get a photo of something people will like to see. Something you seem to do regularly, please keep it up =)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hamish Blair
Hamish Blair is a Melbourne-based Australian photographer who works for Getty Images. He covered his first Test match in 1996 and has spent a good deal of his career since following the Australian cricket team around the world. He has photographed over 100 Tests in the 13 years he has been shooting cricket.

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