Last year I went to the athletics at the excellently-run Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. They had some curious rules about the size of lenses that spectators could take in. No lenses longer than 12 inches were allowed. I’m guessing they were concerned about people using long telephoto lenses and taking close up images to sell to agencies. I use MFT cameras, so get longer telephoto “reach” with my smaller lenses. I contemplated taking my Olympus 40-150 f2.8 Pro lens with its 1.4x teleconverter, which is less than 12 inches long overall, but was a bit concerned someone would apply the spirit of the rule rather than the wording, so I left it at home. Instead I took my small Lumix 40-150mm lens, and it was fine despite having a smaller maximum aperture.
The men’s 5000 metres race was a great one for using different techniques. This classic head-on shot shows how close a race it was, even with the “telephoto compression” that’s happening. I pre-focused on the blue thing just inside the track edge and pressed the shutter just as the runners reached it. I really like the TV cameraman wondering if he should be pointing his camera towards the race.
I was at the final bend, and had a good clear blue background when I framed for the edge of the track. I wanted to get the pattern of the runners’ legs against the blue and the lines as they went past. There’s a good balance of “up” legs and “down” legs. The great advantage of a longer race like the 5000 metres is that you have quite a few laps in which to have another go.
One of the things I cover in my “Movement in Photography” talk is using camera movement in combination with subject movement. The camera movement here is panning from left to right as the runners go past. Using a 1/20th sec shutter speed meant that the movement of the runners, especially their legs, is shown. There’s a real feel of a race going on. Panning blurs the background so that distractions, such as advertising text, are minimised.
One race, one simple lens and three different images.