Focusing on training sessions
Hi again everyone,
Today's picture is of Harbhajan Singh from the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, during an Indian training session at Centurion, ahead of their pool match against Australia.
Covering a cricket tour involves photographing a lot of training sessions. Newspapers and websites are always looking for fresh photos and with games not being played every day, training sessions provide opportunities to get some new photos. Also, something newsworthy, such as player getting injured, may happen during a training session, so it is important to be there whenever possible.
The photos I take at training sessions vary enormously depending on the ground where it takes place and what the team actually does during the session. A light session might only involve a few fielding drills and bit of running around, sometimes with only a few of the players in the team's squad present. However, a heavier session might go for four hours or more, with time spent on warm-ups, fitness, fielding, batting and bowling. Warm-ups, fitness and fielding usually happen out on the field, but the practice nets for batting and bowling may be on the outfield or sometimes in a separate area outside the ground.
All of this impacts greatly on the photos I am able to take. If a training session is a bit of running around and throwing a few balls, obviously that's all I can photograph, which may not produce very exciting pictures! However longer sessions can also be tricky, as depending on the setup at the ground, access can be very limited. Practice net areas can be small and difficult to get around. It is important not to get in the players way, but I also have to watch out for stray cricket balls. During a match there is only one ball to look out for, but at training session there can be a number of things going on at once and speaking from experience, it hurts when you get hit!
In short, getting a good photo from a training session can be quite difficult. The practice area at Centurion during the World Cup was just outside the ground. A temporary grand stand had been erected between the ground and this area, to allow for the extra fans the World Cup brought in. By climbing to the top of this stand, I could look over the back and down to the practice nets below. This provided the unusual angle for this photo, looking almost straight down at the players practising instead of the usual ground level, side on view. The angle of the sun also helped, with the players shadows stretched over the grass.
This photo was taken with a wide angle 35mm lens. As it was a sunny day the ISO was low at 200. The shutter speed was 1/1250th of a second to freeze the action. The aperture is f7.1, which gave enough depth of field to have everything in focus. I like this photo as Harbhajan Singh's flowing, animated bowling approach is exaggerated by his shadow. The high wide angle also shows the worn pitch, broken up with the paint of creases as well as the shadow from the nets.
Hamish Blair is a Melbourne-based photographer for Getty Images