An action shot in the English countryside
Firstly, I wanted to welcome my good friend Philip [Brown] to this blog. It's great having him to be a part of it. If you don't already know his work, he's a fantastic photographer as you will see with his posts here. I've spent a lot of time shooting alongside him and his sense of humour and fun make an already enjoyable job even bThe photo I've chosen for this post is a shot of Adam Gilchrist from the opening match of Australia's 2005 Ashes tour of England against the Professional Cricketers Association Masters XI. The Ashes tour traditionally opens with a match at the incredibly picturesque Arundel Castle ground in southern England. It is set in the grounds of the castle and is a perfect place to start a tour of England as it is a great example of the beautiful cricket grounds that can be found all over the country.
Shooting a tour match as opposed to a Test, ODI or T20I is a little different. While there is still interest in the result, the focus isn't always on exact incidents and highlights. It can often be a good opportunity to try and take some different and sometimes a little more interesting photos.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, a lot of cricket is shot from a fairly straight position, at fine leg/long-off to a right-hand batsman. This photo is an example of an action shot from a different angle.
One thing to consider when deciding where to shoot from is what will be in the background. Cricket is different from most other sports in that most of the action takes place in one place of the ground, on the pitch. When I decide where to work from, I try to find as clean a background as possible. In a lot of stadiums, this is a bank of seats that will hopefully fill up with crowd. More often than not it is a compromise though. The angle I want to shoot from doesn't always have a good background. Stairwells, security guards in bright jackets and advertising signs are all part of modern cricket that, while necessary, aren't always welcome additions to the background of a photo.
The Arundel Castle ground is mostly surrounded by trees, spectators bring their own chairs and rugs and sit on grass banks running down to the ground with no advertising boards obscuring their view (or spoiling my background!). There is a small section square of the wicket with no trees, which gives way to a view of the English countryside, complete with rolling hills and fields. I sat directly opposite with this gap in my background. I liked it as it gave the photos a real feel of being in England, which for a photo from an opening match of a tour of England is great. All that was need was to wait for a nice piece of action in front of it.
With Gilchrist opening the batting in a T20 match, it wasn't long before he played a big shot and I got the photo I wanted. This photo was shot with a Canon 1D Mark II with a 500mm f4 lens. Due to this match being played in the evening, the light wasn't very bright. As such it was shot at 800 ISO at 1/640th of a second with the lens wide open at an aperture of f4. A wide open lens gives the lowest depth of field, meaning the background is a long way out of focus, which normally is a good thing in a photo as it makes the action stand out. With a little more light I would probably have closed the aperture a little to bring the unusual background a little more into focus. This wasn't possible, but I was still happy with the result.
Hamish Blair is a Melbourne-based photographer for Getty Images