25 Jun 2008

Photographing outdoor events

It's the time of year for open-air events like local carnivals, gymkhanas and town festivals. You really should try to get along to these weekend events. For one thing, they can be a great day out, but most of all, they offer tremendous photo opportunities if you keep your eyes open and your camera at the ready.

If you are at all nervous about photographing people, then these local events can be great places to get started. The folks who go along to them, both participants and spectators are usually there to enjoy themselves. Certainly the participants expect to be photographed, so you will have no trouble from that direction. The atmosphere will be relaxed and that always helps.

I photographed these two chaps taking part in a mediaeval battle re-enactment in my home town of Kirkcudbright in SW Scotland. The armies went at it hammer and tongue, knocking seven bells out of each other with swords and maces. All this made wonderful action photographs of course, but the shot I liked most was of these two 'dead' lying on the battlefield. I like the way the man nearest the camera is holding his chest as if he's having palpitations, while the other chap has two mighty swords stuck in his chest.

Of course this sort of event can lend itself readily to the photo-essay treatment, with pictures of the soldiers putting on their armour, sharpening swords, fighting, and maybe even in the bar having a pint between bouts. You should always be on the lookout for the unusual, out-of-context shot. Perhaps an armoured soldier eating an ice cream, sitting in his car, or checking his watch.

Just a couple of tips...

Try to use a reasonably fast shutter speed to freeze the action - no less than 1/250sec if possible.

A small telephoto lens is often ideal for this sort of assignment - something equivalent to around 125mm

Whatever you do go and have a great day out and take lots of photographs.

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