January 19, 2014

A circle among shadows

Two photos from the Brisbane Test, taken at (nearly) the same instant, produce two different effects

© Philip Brown

I thought it was about time I provided a new post. I wrote this while being holed up in a decent hotel room in the centre of Melbourne waiting for the fourth Test of an extraordinary Ashes series. At that point, I don't think anyone expected Australia to win the first three Test matches and for the series to be over. By the way, it must have been a decent hotel room, as I had two sinks in the bathroom and two wastepaper bins under the desk. Such luxury.

I remember sitting behind the nets outside the Gabba two days before the first Test match and thinking that Mitchell Johnson appeared to be bowling pretty darn quick. I was right and in the first three Test matches Johnson took 23 wickets and was Man of the Match twice. England underperformed, and then there was the shock announcement that Graeme Swann was retiring from international cricket. Swann was pretty good to photograph, and I, for one, will miss him.

The photograph that I've chosen here is one that I took in Brisbane as Australia were closing in on a large victory in the first Test. Late in the day at the Gabba, the sun pops behind the stand and produces some interesting shadows. I was sitting at ground level with my 600mm lens, waiting for England's ninth wicket to fall, when I suddenly convinced myself that trying something a bit different from up in the stand would be the thing to do instead.

I knew it wouldn't be the end of the world if I didn't capture the ninth wicket. I walked across to the fence and squeezed myself past Australia's bowling coach, Craig McDermott, and through a tiny gap in the fence. I made it to the top of the stairs and stood in front of an empty seat and took photos on my 80-200mm zoom lens.

About 15 metres away, I set up my remote camera, which had a very similar 180mm lens attached, so without realising it at the time I also got another version of the same moment (well, almost the same moment - maybe 1/30th of a second different). I think it is quite interesting to compare the two shots and to appreciate why one works better than the other. It's remarkable the difference a few metres or even centimetres can make to an image.

Of course, the dramatic shadows and the impression that Chris Tremlett is surrounded make the photo work. Cricket photography is about patience and sometimes the best pictures can come about by taking a chance.

Specifications: Nikon D4 Camera, 70-200mm lens at 170mm f5.6 1/1250th sec ISO 250

An Australian freelance cricket photographer based in England, Philip Brown has photographed over 150 Test matches around the world

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