FIRST TIME AT THE VANS US OPEN OF SURFING
I didn’t know what to expect
I’ve shot Huntington Beach loads of times in the past. When I’m heading down to the coast I usually bring a prime or a wide zoom for landscapes. This was my first time trying my hand at Sport photography. It was early morning on a Sunday. August 6, 2017. I wasn’t sure what to bring. Most of the subjects I had planned to shoot would be off in the distance.
What gear should I bring? I don’t consider myself a pro and the thought of shooting an event like this left me a little intimidated. The last thing I wanted was to show up and look like I didn’t know what I was doing. I just got my hands on a Canon 5D Mk IV. I knew that this body would definitely be coming with me. For two reasons. The auto focus is amazing. The second reason being it was decades ahead of the other two bodies I had. I was itching to take it out on its first real day of shooting. I packed up extra CF and SD cards to take a long with it. I had no idea how many pictures I would be leaving with but I would always want the extra memory. I packed up extra batteries as well. As a back up camera I brought a Canon 5D Classic, if for some reason I needed it. Unfortunately I only have the one battery for the 5D Classic body.
Shooting from the shore? Shooting from the pier? Either way I have to bring a telephoto lens. I knew that I would have the opportunity to poke around the beach to see the other events going on throughout the day. So I packed a prime lens along with the two telephoto lenses I planned on bringing with me.
The prime I brought with me to walk around with was the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art. Awesome piece of glass, I almost always have it on my camera when I leave to go shoot. The two telephoto lenses I packed are the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L. This model doesn’t have the image stabilization and I wasn’t sure if it would have the reach I needed. So I also packed a Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3. This is the longest reaching lens I had and it came with “optical stabilization”. If this lens couldn’t get me the shots I wanted then I was just going to have to settle with what I had.
Tripod…. I mean Monopod
The bodies and glass I opted to bring can get pretty heavy. Not only can they tax the muscles but I’m not known to have the steadiest hands. I knew I would have to bring something to help me keep my camera steady and support the weight. I originally planned on bringing a tripod but wasn’t sure how much space I was going to have to squeeze into. I figured it may get crowded with it being a sporting event. This prompted me to pack my Manfrotto 560B. I can pan 360 degrees and tilt and lean wherever I please. It didn’t require a large footprint so it seemed the logical choice.
IT WENT SURPRISINGLY WELL
I love the Canon 5D Mk IV. The auto focus did great. I was shooting fast-moving subjects from hundreds of feet away. Most of the pictures I took were using high shutter speeds and high ISO. I was expecting some “grain” when I saw that the ISO was starting to sit around >100k. I reviewed the photos almost after every shot while I was there. On the incredibly clear LCD screen and on my computer monitor the grain expected was nowhere to be found. The photos were sharp and the color was great,
When I got to the beach it was before sunrise. I found a use for each of the lenses I brought with me. The 35mm worked great in low light. I was able to snap a few shots of the grounds while looking for a spot to stay posted for when the surfers hit the water.Having the 35mm 1.4 made
low light shots easy.
Especially when paired up with the Mk IV’s ISO perfomance. The 70-200mm did its job and proved to be a versatile lens. It did what it needed it to do in every situation I put it in. The compression I got from shooting portraits of the surfers before they got into the water was great. Even when hand holding and lack of Image Stabilization this 70-200 produced some sharp shots. Ideal for shooting subjects that are out of reach or shooting thru crowds. I went from using it at 200mm on my spot on the pier to leaving my spot to move amongst the crowds on the beach. Being able to zoom in and out from 70-200 made life easy when I went hanging for more subjects to shoot. The Sigma 150-500mm, this lens is a beast. It worked better than I anticipated. I knew it would get me close enough to the surfers to catch the detail I wanted. What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of detail and reach it would give me. I don’t know if it was a combination of getting a perfect spot on the pier or just the lens alone. But the results are awesome.