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 Post subject: Kite Surfing
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:28 pm 
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With all the bad weather here in northerly parts of Europe there was at least no lack of wind. So all kinds of surfers had their fun at the North Sea and at other locations.
In Bergen aan Zee in the Netherlands they do mostly Kite-Surfing that is using a small board and hanging oneself with a harness to a 10m² kite you can do (as a pro) jumps of gigantic proportions.
I mounted my trusty old Sigma 400/5.6 and went out to catch some of the action and to train some action-shooting abilities.
Here's a selection of captures, the smaller ones linked through to larger versions:

"Silver surfer":
Image

"Jump" & "Take off":
Image Image

"Up, up and away" & "Get back"
Image Image

All shot at f/5.6 at shutter speeds between 1/2000 and 1/8000 sec.
More technicalities and some insights about shooting, focussing technique and the optimal focal length in a follow-up post.

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Last edited by Thomas on Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:17 pm 
Love the first one. That dark silouette in that silver water. Just looks great.
Were you in the Netherlands and take these?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:41 pm 
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LOVE THEM!! Nice job Thomas

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:18 pm 
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I was on holiday in this lovely spot! Highly recommended if you love peace, nature and a good wind :wink:

But now onto some insights this action shooting brought.

Distance and focal length:
Those guys zip around pretty fast, sometimes coming very close to the beach as there were no swimmers to watch out for and they could surf on very shallow water. On other times they were doing their jumps some 50m (and more) out there.
Now, not having a zoom would make it very hard to adapt to these changes in distance until you position yourself a little "up- or downstream" to the action, i.e. not at the point where the surfers approach the shoreline. So when the surfer comes in he is not directly approaching you but moving laterally to you. This way the distance does not change so much and you can do quite well even with a fixed-focal like my Sigma 400/5.6. But a 5x zoom of the 80-400mm variety or a 120-400mm would be very nice.
How long a lens do you need? Well, I was happy to have a 400mm mounted. As you can see, some of the action was happening at a fair distance from the shore. 300mm would certainly have only limited appeal and 200mm is definitely too short. And we're talking about an APS-C sensor here with a 1.5x crop factor, not FF/FX! So now you understand why the pros with their FF/FX-bodies bring their 600/5.6 with them :shock:

Protecting your lens:
Under these circumstances (wind + sand + salt-water) you should be definitely protecting your lens with a UV-filter. Even then you want to hide your gear under the jacket when not actively shooting. And you should definitely not expose your gear to spray.
So when I said position yourself up-/downstream you should select the side of the beach that makes it possible for you to shoot with the wind and not against it. This way your head/body shields the gear from the elements better. But it might just be that this position is not optimal with regard to the position of the sun :?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:10 am 
VERY VERY nice pictures! Congratulations, dude!
Sharp as a tack and still showing the movement. A+!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 6:07 pm 
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The subject:
After returning to the computer with my first set of images to check on image quality (mostly focus and shake) I was immediately disappointed: What, no kites in the image?!

Yes, this is one of the things that I was missing badly. Perhaps having some wind-surfer images in my mind with those colorful sails and the interplay between sail and human I recognized that those kite-surfers were just hanging "from a strap" some lines pointing to the sky like a puppet on a string. But no colorful kites in sight. :(

I don't know exactly how long the lines to the kites are, but I assume it's around 20m, that is 10x the height of a human body. And even when the kite is steared pretty close to the water to get maximum forward pull it's hard to get the kite and the surfer into one frame unless the kite is exactly behind the surfer (from your line of sight). That was almost never the case from my vantage-point and I had the impression that the kites are not very often close to the surface.

So the only vista of a kite together with a meaningfully sized surfer was captured in image #4, where the kite in the background belongs to another surfer (not the one who is jumping). Unfortunately, the sky was behind a cloud at that moment.
Plus there is a shadow of a kite (very colorful :? ) in image #1 on the water. See?

Addendum:
I was thinking of cropping out the sea at the bottom of #4 to give the illusion of an even higher jump. What do you think (to crop or not to crop)?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:40 pm 
In My personal Opinion in the Silver Surfer shot I would've cropped the
image a bit so the surfer in the background would not be there...but thats just me. Other than that great shots!



Josh :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:54 pm 
Thomas wrote:
Addendum:
I was thinking of cropping out the sea at the bottom of #4 to give the illusion of an even higher jump. What do you think (to crop or not to crop)?


Imo you should crop it. I just covered it up on the screen, and it lookes kinda wilder, and yeah definetly like he was jumping higher.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:55 pm 
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Well, what about focussing?
As those guys move pretty fast I was naturally keen to see whether the combined focus-abilities of the modern D300 body and the antiquated Sigma 400/5.6 were up to the task.
I choose focus mode C (=continuous servo AF) and the built-in AF-motor of the D300 buzzed along happily with no problems whatsoever.
I used (A) single-point AF and dynamic area AF mostly with 9 AF-points (B) but also tried the 51 points with 3D-tracking (C).
(A) and (B) turned out to be up to the task but (C) sometimes was to "jumpy": It suddenly switched from the surfer to a wave rolling by :? So I quickly stopped testing 3D-tracking.
Now that nobody understands me wrong: I'm not saying 3D-tracking is cr*p but only that 3D-tracking for this type of sports is perhaps not he optimal choice :wink:

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Last edited by Thomas on Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:11 am 
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wwwwwhooooooohoooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Gorgeous capture! Am gonna go read the settings.

That first one really is spectacular.


patti

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