Cherry Picking the Best Spot for Telephoto Shooting

Today’s Post by Barry Staver

Logistics are crucial to successful event photography. Or as Realtors like to say, “it’s all about location, location, location”.

I am a firm believer in pre-planning, as much as humanely possible, and then showing up early to any event I’m shooting. A wedding photographer friend of mine leaves his home 30 minutes earlier than need be, “for flat tire time” as he calls it. While I’ve yet to have a flat en route to a gig, I have had over-zealous security thugs refuse close-in parking (despite my having proper credentials), events starting early, schedule changes, the list can go on.

Early arrival at this fun event – 30th Annual Concrete Canoe Competition – gave me the chance to photograph the canoes being unloaded and carried to the water (providing the client with an unexpected bonus), learn the course layouts, and gain access to a boat to get different camera angles. Once the race course was pointed out to me, pre-visualizing it was key to success.

Turns out I only shot from the boat for about 1/3 of the races. Since I had no control over where the boat would anchor, shooting the remainder of the day was much better from shore. If I’d stayed on the boat, I’d be missing some good angles. People on the boat can only see the side and backs of these racers. Another advantage of shooting from shore: These heavy canoes are tough to steer accurately, so I could easily move a few feet in either direction to keep the best head-on action coming towards me. Notice the varied background obtained by changing the vantage point too.

My Lumix G Vario 100-300mm f/4-5.6 II Power OIS lens was the perfect tool. It’s got image stabilization built in and I was able to shoot from both land and boat without a tripod to get these tack sharp action images. Cameras used were Panasonic Lumix GH4’s.