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Photography Question 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
 

Sports Photography


It has been several years since this topic was last discussed in the forum. At that time the question was why BetterPhoto doesn't have a seperate category for sports. So I figured I would bring the topic up again. This time I am putting a little different twist to it.

I am wondering why sports photography is short shrifted when it comes to the photo contest. About the only place sports images can be entered in the monthly contest now would be "People" category or the "Catch All" category. However, in looking at the images selected as finalists the past year in those categories there are very few that fall into the category of sports. For example. While I might have missed one, I do not believe any images of football have been selected as finalists during the past year (going back through August of 2008).

So, is it just me or do some of the rest of my fellow BP members feel that the BetterPhoto judges do not much care for action sports photographs? I am most interested in hearing from members who actually take sports photos, and have an interest in sports photography. If there are enough of us that appreciate how difficult it is to capture good action sports images, then perhaps we can convince the BP management and judges to pay more attention to us (LOL)!


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9/20/2009 7:20:25 PM

 
Holly J. Jackson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/27/2007
  Or it could be an "ACTION" category... where it could be sports, cars racing, animals running, etc... As long as it's a moving target. ??? What do you think?


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9/21/2009 12:10:02 AM

 
Bojan Bencic
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/29/2005
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  That is a great suggestion, Ronald. Sports is a very popular subject and it would be a great contribution to the contest.
Hopefully the BP staff will recognize this great suggestion.


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9/21/2009 6:38:08 AM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  Thank you for responding, Holly and Bojan. I would have no problem with an "action" category, as you have defined it. I also think it would be a great addition to BP. There are many of us who enjoy action photography, and in particular sports photography.


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9/21/2009 7:33:16 AM

 
Gretchen J. Gilkey
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/19/2006
  I shoot many images of my son's soccer team. I have received EP on some of my shots - but they have been entered in "people", "monthly theme" or "catch-all" . This month - to my surprise- I actually recieved a "Finalist" for a soccer shot. I beleive it was entered in the "catch-all" theme. I agree with you that these images are difficult to capture and difficult to fit into available catergories. Perhaps an "action" category could be added???


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9/21/2009 7:47:33 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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carltonwardphoto.com
 
 
 
I dont do a lot of sports photography but I do shoot local MMA (mixed martial arts) fights at the Snoqualmie Casino. I caught a nice capture of a knockout and it didn't even get an EP although I get a lot of them for other images. I dont remember what category I entered it in ??
So Ron, I do agree that a Sports section for the photography contest would be a nice addition. Since Better Photo does offer a 4 week course on Sports photography, maybe they will consider adding sports as a contest category. It is a specific type of photography and requires a different skill set than my usual landscape type shooting :)
Cheers,
Carlton


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9/22/2009 1:32:42 AM

 
Kenneth De Pree
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2008
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  Ronald F, thanks for starting this thread. Your question is one that I have often thought of asking myself. I like to shoot stop action photos of kiteboarders, local baseball teams, water skiers, etc., and would like to have a contest category for them. The fact that a course in sports photography is already a part of the BP curriculum makes it hard to understand why it is not also a contest category.

Again, thanks for taking the initiative.

Ken


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9/22/2009 5:34:42 PM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
  I would love to see an action photography section in the contest. Not just sports, but images with motion.

My football images have done very well here. Sadly, my hockey photos, which are so hard to do, have not.

Lots of good action photos in the contest. I'd love to see them all in one place. Thanks for the topic Ronald.


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9/22/2009 7:49:00 PM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  I agree that an action category would be well recieved, I think. It would include not just sports, but any images that capture action.

I looked at your football pictures, Erica, and they are awesome. Unfortunately, I see that the last award you got for a football image was in early 2007. That sort of proves my point. Over the last few years BP judges don't seem to be very much interested in sports photographs in general, and football in particular.


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9/22/2009 8:26:51 PM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
  Maybe they're not "artsy" enough for the judges here. Personally, I love sports images. I think they can capture so much emotion. They're once in a lifetime moments captured forever. My boys love to look at their sports images. I captured my son's first grand slam to win a huge tournament. This series of images means so much more to him than a BP award would. Maybe the emotion we feel in these images is too personal and doesn't cause the same emotion from a judge. I still shoot sports whenever I can, but I do enter far less than I use to. My boys just play hockey now and I have never even had a finalist with a hockey picture. I think I've captured some good emotion and action, but they are not interesting enough to be noticed. Maybe if they were super models playing hockey in bikini's they'd get noticed.


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9/23/2009 8:07:39 AM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  You make some very good points, Erica! While my photography interests are quite varied, I do tend to gravitate toward action images (wildlife, at the moment). I recently acquired a used Canon 1Dm3, and I can now see myself shooting more sports than ever before. I agree that sports images may tend to hold much more interest to those who are personally connected to what is depicted in the image. That said, it is extremely difficult to capture a technically good sports action image. Generally, the lighting conditions are not the best, and the action is fast and furious. It requires a lot of planning, and then anticipation of the "moment" to capture a good action sports image. It would be nice if the BP judges would pay a bit more attention to that category of photography.


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9/23/2009 8:31:29 AM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
  You won't get any arguments from me about this.


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9/23/2009 8:35:35 AM

 
Kenneth De Pree
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2008
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  Establishing this category may also stimulate more interest in the sports photography course.


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9/23/2009 8:39:11 AM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  A very good point, Ken!


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9/23/2009 8:43:38 AM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
 
 
 
I have entered this photo many times. Not because it's the most beautiful or perfect picture, but because of the emotion. Any parent who has been to a tournament knows what's going on here and the title makes it crystal clear. Not an action shot, but an image that speaks of a moment in time and to many people, not just the subject. I have probably entered this photo into the contest at least ten times, and due to this thread, I entered it again today. I did take one of the sports classes as I had been one pushing for them to add that to their classes. I don't think I learned anything there that would make my images stand out in the contest crowd here. There are so many talented photographers here and the contest winners make my jaw drop to the floor. It's really hard to compete against that with a sports image which is not planned for perfect light, distance to subject, no clutter in the background etc.... you all know what I mean.


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9/23/2009 9:19:09 AM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
 
 
 
I have entered this photo many times. Not because it's the most beautiful or perfect picture, but because of the emotion. Any parent who has been to a tournament knows what's going on here and the title makes it crystal clear. Not an action shot, but an image that speaks of a moment in time and to many people, not just the subject. I have probably entered this photo into the contest at least ten times, and due to this thread, I entered it again today. I did take one of the sports classes as I had been one pushing for them to add that to their classes. I don't think I learned anything there that would make my images stand out in the contest crowd here. There are so many talented photographers here and the contest winners make my jaw drop to the floor. It's really hard to compete against that with a sports image which is not planned for perfect light, distance to subject, no clutter in the background etc.... you all know what I mean.

http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1582241&catID=560&contestCatID=10&rowNumber=626&camID=


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9/23/2009 9:22:28 AM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
  sorry about the double post. I thought I could add the photo ID but that didn't work.


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9/23/2009 9:29:41 AM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  Wonderful "high key" look to this awesome capture! I can see just enough of his (your son?) face to feel the emotion of the moment. He has given everything he had to the game, and your timing on the capture was "spot on."


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9/23/2009 9:37:16 AM

 
David Pratt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/25/2006
  I agree as well that an action/sport catagory would be great. I shoot a wide selection of images and have shot basketball and baseball and now am turning to soccer. I have some nice shots but have posted very few since they mostly get ignored.


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9/23/2009 11:06:54 AM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
  Thanks Ronald! Not my son. The story was this boy scored a goal in the final minutes that would have tied the game. It was waved off. It would have been the first tournament win. Regardless of the story, I think it's a scene many parents know well.

Basketball is a very tough sell around here. It's so hard to photograph action in the gym. It doesn't hurt to try though. If you have images you love, you should enter them.

I love HS Varsity FB games. I think there is a lot of emotion and energy there. Not just in the action, but in everything going on around the game as well. I would think these types of photos would do well here, especially this time of year. If you have some, you should try.

There is a really good sports forum on POTN-I think that's it, Photos on the Net. It's a Canon forum and a lot of pros from Europe and UK post some really great images there. Looking there lets me know I have a long way to go to make images like that.


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9/23/2009 11:32:08 AM

 
Donna La Mattino Pagakis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/12/2004
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  Hi Ronald,

It would be great to have a sports or action category. As most of you know, I LOVE to capture the sport of Flowboarding (bodyboarding or surfing on a man made wave). I have had some success in the contest, mostly as Finalists. But as you have mentioned~ people is a VERY tough category. If I can fit my photograph into a MT I will.

I would love to learn how to take a better sports image. My daughter is playing on the Freshman Volleyball team in High School now.

Thanks for starting this thread.

Good luck everyone,

Donna


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9/23/2009 11:48:51 AM

 
Kenneth De Pree
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2008
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  Ronald, you said this subject was discussed several years ago. Was any explanation given for not having this category? Was there any response at all from BP? What happened to the thread, did it die because of lack of any interest on the part of BP?

Are these threads monitored by BP? Or should you send an email on the subject to BP and cite the member interest as evidenced by the responses to your thread starter? I don't think the number of posters to this thread is any indication of the total interest in a sports category.

As several have mentioned, this is a challenging area of photography. More so than most, if not all, of the present contest areas since you can't pick your light, have to deal with moving subjects, etc.


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9/23/2009 11:53:41 AM

 
Monnie Ryan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2008
  Sports photography isn't my thing, but I certainly have lots of respect for the skills and talent it takes to get even a good shot, much less a great one. I also agree these kinds of photos are unique and don't have a real "home" in the existing categories. So for whatever it's worth, I'll add my voice to the call for adding it!


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9/23/2009 11:58:24 AM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  Ken, you can search BP threads and put the word "sports" as your search term and you will find the old threads. I know BP monitors the threads, but I am not sure how often. I do know inappropriate threads are removed by BP management. I will drop them a note and clue them in on this thread, to see if we can get some sort of response or feedback.


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9/23/2009 12:00:48 PM

 
Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
ericamurphyphotography.com
  I think the cool thing about action photography is that it can be people, landscapes, macro, animals, nature.....just about anything you photograph has an opportunity to add motion through the use of a creative shutter speed.


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9/23/2009 12:01:31 PM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  I sure do hope BP management reviews this thread and gives serious consideration to adding an "Action" thread, where the focus would be on use of photography skills to capture (with that "WOW" factor) action. While I would hope that the primary focus would be sports photography (which is grossly under represented in the number of finalists/winners), I do agree that many different types of photography could fit within the definition of "Action."


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9/23/2009 12:15:19 PM

 
Kenneth De Pree
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2008
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  I would prefer that it be sports photography. If it is, then a photo like the one referred to above, a boy who is emotional after a defeat of a hard fought contest, would fit in that category, as well as players in action.

If it is an action category, players showing emotion, either the joy of victory or agony of defeat, wouldn't fit.

If it has to be an action category, I would hope that it could be sports/action or something like that, so that there is a place for all sports photos but others must be clearly photos of something in action.


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9/23/2009 4:23:45 PM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  I agree with you, Ken! That said, in order to get BP to sanction another category for the contest I am guessing they are going to want broader appeal than just sports (although I personally think there would be enough interest to limit it to just sports). A "Sports/Action" category would provide that broad based appeal.


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9/23/2009 6:28:46 PM

 
Susan M. Carter   I have had two finalists and one second place with horse racing shots but it's a tough sell. Most contests reward 'fine art' type photography and sports shots rarely fall into that category. You don't see photojournalism shots winning these kinds of contests either. Good sports photography requires technical skill and an ability to compensate for hideous light but that doesn't necessarily make for beautiful art. I have tried to sell racing shots as fine art with little success, the only people who really want them are the friends and family of the subject or publications dedicated to the sport. I might admire your technique in capturing a gritty moment in sports, but I don't want it hanging on my wall.

The only thing I will say is if you include anything in motion, wild horses galloping through water, cheetas racing across an open plain, dogs leaping off of docks, children running with balloons and hummingbirds in flight are still going to beat a football photo taken at 1pm.


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9/24/2009 4:42:47 PM

 
Kenneth De Pree
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2008
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  I agree with you Susan, and that is why I think it should be a sports photography category, just as there is a course in sports photography, not action photography.

Adding "action" opens it up to everybody's interpretation of action and there are already categories for children running with balloons, cheetahs racing across the open plain, etc., but there is no good category for sports photos.

I think those of us who enjoy taking sports photos will soon have the same frustration we do now if the category is anything but sports photos.

I wasn't aware that Better Photo thinks that photography is limited to "fine art" though I agree with you that in practice this seems to be what the judges mainly look for. I really think it is a shame that sports photography and photo journalism are given so little attention. Both are respected categories in the real world.

Unfortunately, photos of neither type lend themselves to HDR, since this seems to be prized by the judges.


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9/24/2009 6:21:22 PM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  It would probably be hard to differentiate, but I would prefer "live, spontaneous" action to "staged" action. I can see it turning into people staging action shots of kids on bicycles and the like to win a gold button.


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9/24/2009 7:51:52 PM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  Ken and Susan, I very much appreciate your comments. If it were me making the decision for BP I would add a "Sports" only category. I think there would be plenty of us that would enter photos into that category.

However, realistically speaking, if there is any chance of getting a new category (whether it be an additional category or a replacement for one of the existing categories) I think the best would be action. Unfortunately, I am afraid your fears would then come true. Sports images would still be overlooked in favor of the more artsy looking action image.

I don't want this thread to turn into a criticism of BP judges. For the most part I think they do an awesome job each month (although they could pay more attention to my photos - LOL).

That said, I agree with your observations that value seems to be placed on "artsy" photos. In many cases it isn't about how good a photographer you are, but rather how good you are with Photoshop (or other image processing program of your choice). I know folks have won the gold in the landscape or travel and place categories when they have replaced the sky, or added a moon, or performed some other blatant digital manipulation of the photo (other than levels, contrast, brightness and sharpening). Don't get me wrong. The photos are spectacular. However, they do not depict real life.

It used to be that any significant digital manipulation of the photo would disqualify the image from any category other than "digital darkroom." However, that policy seems to have been thrown out the window the past couple of years. And I can understand why. It is hard to tell, unless the photographer admits it, that an image has been heavily digitally manipulated if you are good with Photoshop. And I am OK with that. I just wish BP would have a category or two that really tested skill at photography, rather than skill with the digital darkroom.

I believe those of us that try and remain purists, not doing much by way of post processing, are at a distinct disadvantage in the judging now at BP. In many ways, that surprises me because BP tries to position itself as the photographers website, with all the classes offered in teaching photography skills. Oh well, such is life! I will still continue entering images in the contest doing it "my way." It makes it more fun on those rare occasions when one of my photos advances to the finalist round or beyond!

Well, that was quite a rant, and I really didn't want to go that direction. So please just ignore what I have said and lobby BP for a "Sports" category!


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9/24/2009 8:02:38 PM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  Just one quick follow-up, before I get hammered! The contest rules were changed awhile back (not sure how long ago) to now state that digital manipulation of photos is OK in any category, although the photographer should state when and what type of manipulation was done. Here is the exact wording from the BP contest rules:

"What We Do Not Take Into Account
As long as the subject matter fits, the following kinds of images can be categorized in any of the above categories - we do not separate the contest entries based on the following criteria:

•Digitally manipulated images
•Black and white images
•Humorous photos vs. "serious" photos
•Photos by professionals
•Photos by amateurs
•Photos taken with a digital camera
•Photos taken with a 35mm SLR

Note on Digital Manipulation
Although digitally manipulated entries are allowed, we ask that you note the digital techniques used to create the picture in the description of your photo. The judges do not discriminate against digital images but do appreciate when the contestant openly shares that such digital editing has occurred."


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9/24/2009 8:21:18 PM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
  One last comment before hitting the sack! In light of the above quoted contest rules, and to show anyone reading this thread that I have a sense of humor, tomorrow I am going to enter an action sports photo into the contest that I have digitally manipulated with Topaz Adjust!


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9/24/2009 8:29:10 PM

 
Ronald F. Fischer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/9/2005
 
 
  Racing to First Base!
Racing to First Base!

Canon 100-400L; ISO 1250; 1/800; f/6.3; 400mm

© Ronald F. Fischer
Canon EOS 1D Mark ...
 
 
Here is my creative posting for the day; combining sports, action and digital darkroom. The image came from photographing a friends' daughter in a 7th grade fast pitch softball game yesterday. I accidently overexposed a few of the images by 2 full stops. So I decided to get creative with one of those "accidents" in Photoshop, using the Topaz Adjust plug-in (psychedelic effect). This just goes to show that in photography sometimes our mistakes can turn into art! Hope you enjoy!


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9/25/2009 7:34:13 AM

 
Susan M. Carter   Please don't think that I am criticizing the judging here or elsewhere - I am just pointing out reality. Unless a contest is specific to sports or photojournalism, they are almost always looking for an artistically beautiful shot. I actually use results from the BP contests as one of several inputs to help me decide which images to offer as fine art because what I like isn't necessarily what sells.


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9/25/2009 5:21:19 PM

 
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