Monday, March 4, 2013

Abstract art in action sports photos?

Today was a cool day for Raleigh, with the temperature a bit of a hindrance to athletes trying to warm up. It also led to cold stiff fingers for photographers, especially this one, who had a sore foot that prevented sprinting around the edge of the soccer field.

When photographing sports like soccer, the first aim would generally be to capture the moments of peak action. Shooting an exciting play at the right moment from a great angle is the photographer's dream. Although "fortune favors the prepared mind" (Louis Pasteur), no matter how well one knows a sport, anticipating moves will never guarantee being in exactly the right place to catch that great photo (but it may improve your chances).

Well, I'm not about to post a killer action shot from the game I shot this afternoon, but I do want to show one that demonstrates the confluence of both preparedness and luck. I like it as an abstract image, as one with some human interest, and almost secondarily as an example of snagging sports action.

This was a corner kick, so I knew it was coming. I hobbled to a spot that gave an unobstructed view of the flag, hoping that no other player would move in front of the kick as it happened. I made sure the safety was off my hair trigger response circuits, and was lucky enough to capture the ball not only in-frame, but separated from the pole. Here's where serendipity really helped: the player's right shin guard came off with the impact of the kick, and was frozen between her shoe and the flag pole. It made an almost perfect symmetry with the ball. And the second happenstance: the spectator glancing back at the play with her body in an interesting walking posture.

As for the kicker, all four of her limbs are just where I would want to place them if I were painting the scene free-hand, and the curve of her back adds to the dynamism. Even the chalk lines, the flag pole, and the fence posts and rails in the background add to what I see as an abstract unity, with the two human bodies forming the focus.

So, in the end, this can be seen as just another mediocre soccer shot - cluttered background, not an exciting or unusual play - but I'm glad I caught it, and I think I will probably enjoy looking at it from time to time. Please give it a second look and let me know what you think.


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