On the Island – Weeks 6 & 7

I decided to combine Weeks 6 & 7 into one post as Week 6 saw absences across the board due to Bell Crack, including our team, which meant I played rather than photographing during all of our team’s game. I didn’t forget my personal challenge though.

After our Week 6 games were finished, I attempted to photograph from the end zone. This proved to have positives and negatives. The positives were that I photographed a lot more faces and expressions than I have from the sidelines. It also gave depth to my pictures, capturing handlers and receivers at varying distances. The negative was the weather. With the wind coming from behind me, the majority of the plays were in the opposite end zone. If I had more time, I would have repositioned myself. My Sigma f/2.8 70-200 can only do so much on a large field, and a lot of action in the opposite end zone was lost to me because I didn’t have the focal length necessary in my lens to capture it. On a less windy day, I may not have encountered this challenge, but this isn’t the only sport with a long field. What I can purchase to alleviate this issue is a tele-converter.

A tele-converter would increase my focal length, possibly doubling it depending on the piece. The first one I found on Nikon was the AF-I Tele-converter TC-20E, which would make my 70-200mm lens a 140-400mm lens. However, my lens is a Sigma lens, so while the Nikon tele-converter would fit my camera body, there’s no guarantee it would work with my lens. I hopped over to the Sigma website and found two reasonably priced tele-converters that would work with my Nikon body and my Sigma lens (click here for that chart). The second plus behind a tele-converter is the fact that I’d save myself money. While a tele-converter is a few hundred dollars, a lens that can reach 400mm is at minimum $1,320 (Sigma 120-400mm F4.5-5.6 DG APO OS HSM).

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Yes! I’m buying this right now!”, hold your horses. It turns out like with everything in life, there is no magical solution. For one, the f/stop is limited by a tele-converter. You lose one stop with a 1.4x and two stops with a 2x. Remember, the f/stop affects our depth of field, so maybe this isn’t a big deal. Two, when I zoom to 200mm, I sometimes don’t get the shot because my arms are shaking regardless of how fast the shutter speed is. I can’t imagine what it would be like at 400mm. A monopod or a tripod are mandatory when looking to increase your focal length. For a more in depth run down on tele-converters, check out Darren Rowse’s The Pros and Cons of Using Teleconverters (Extenders) on your DSLR.

Week 7 had great lighting! The colors seem to be ridiculously vibrant in comparison to Week 6’s pictures, and more numerous as we had more substitutes to work with. I’ve heard it said that cloudy days are better for photographing as the light is even and the shadows aren’t so stark. I can understand that, and I guess with photo editing software, there isn’t much of an issue with making a picture how you want it to be. However, my favorite photographs are in the sunshine not just because of the colors and how fast I can get my shutter speed, but also because sunny skies normally means the chance of rain isn’t as eminent as during cloudy weather. I find myself debating whether or not to bring my camera for fear of it being damaged by the weather because I’m on the field and can’t call a time out to protect it from the elements. I’ve been lucky with charging this responsibility to the team mates on the side line, I just don’t want my luck to run out.

Either way, enjoy the pictures!

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