Exercise 11 – Standing back

Depending on your choice of lenses, select a medium-long focal length, ideally between 80 mm to 200 mm full frame equivalent. If you happen to have a more pronounced telephoto lens (300 mm or 400 mm for example), you might find it more interesting to do the exercise with this extreme focal length.

What practical difficulties do you note? Because of the extra distance between you and your subject, you may have found that passer-by and traffic sometimes block your view. And what special creative opportunities do you find that a long focal length and distance have given you.

For this exercise I went to a local pro golf event. I had a very long 28-300mm Canon tel-photo lens which I knew would get me close to the players and other interesting people at the event.

(click on any image to enlarge)

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On the first photo I was looking at this caddie and just as I took the picture someone came in front of the camera. You can just see the sleeve on the bottom left of the image. A second attempt was more successful and in the end I preferred the pose the caddie gave…deep in thought!

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Using a longer lens I was able to pick off people form afar. The first was during a live TV interview of one of the lady professional players, and the second was of pro-celebrity golfer and comedian Jim Davidson.

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Using a long lens for the first image of the golf bag has allowed the background to be totally of of focus, so the minimal DOP has taken away any distracting background, while at the same time allowing me to take the capture from an area not open to the public.

The second image of Tiger Woods would have been better, had it not been for other public spectators walking in front of the image. One draw back of being far away from the subject allows others to impede the shot at times.

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In the next two images we can see how distractions in the foreground can sometimes add, or take away from the overall effect of the image. The first photo of the two golfers would have been better without the intrusion of a caddie caring a flag, blocking the image. The second image of Tiger Woods is good as a single image should it have not had other people in the shot, but the people in the foreground asking for his autograph add to the atmosphere of the image giving it a sense of place and what Tiger is doing.

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In these last two images, we see two examples of using a long tele-photo lens taken at two different distances from the subject. The first is still on a high tele-photo setting, but being close has allowed me to get really close up on the face of Tiger Woods. The second is again using a long setting of 300mm, but this time not being able to get into the closed off area where Tiger was signing his card and autographs I was able to still capture an image which tells a story. The fact he was elevated on the stand stopped any other person walking into the image and blocking off the shot.


Using a long focal length lens certainly helps get up close to most subjects, but the disadvantage means that if you are situated back from the subject you stand the risk of others people, or objects blocking the view. This is apparent when you maybe on the same level as your subject.

Given the right position however allows the photo to be cropped if needed and cropping out in camera what other distractions may have otherwise been in the picture. Of course we maybe able to crop in post, but the other advantage of a longer lens is being able to get very close to the action or subject.




Exercise 10 – Capturing the moment

The brief for this exercise was “The mechanics of this exercise are simple, but the results are many and varied. Find, as for the last exercise, a ‘comfortable’ situation, possibly even the same location. For this exercise concentrate on bursts of activity, from which you try to capture a ‘best’ moment.”

I decided to use the same bike show that I had for the first exercise in this project. I watched as a bike stunt rider performed his tricks (which were impressive) on his modified motorbike. This guy was part of the Redbull sponsored stunt rider team and was here on visit just for the Dubai bike show.

I watched as he throw his bike around a closed off track watched by spectators. He had another partner who was equally impressive doing similar tricks. I took a series of shots during the 10 min show and broke it down into a single image which I thought showed off the bikers skills the most.

(click any image to enlarge)

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One of the event organisers was walking around filming the stunt bikers as they performed tricks to the crowd.

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As a pair, the stunt riders worked closer and closer together making tighter turns, as the rear wheels skidded on the tarmac and the front wheels almost locked together.

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Making the most of the closed track, one of the riders started to make the stunts more daring.

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More impressive stunts.

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From the total stunt show and one small mishap from one of the riders (not serious) the riders split up and I focused on the best of the two while he did his tricks.



For me this was the ultimate stunt for the riders in the total set. Standing on the handlebars, moving around a closed track, while keeping perfect balance…very impressive!


This was an interesting exercise making you think about what best shows off a final set of images. Many of the stunts were impressive, especially when you see it done just a few feet away, and not on the TV or internet.

Exercise 9 – Developing your confidence

For the first in the new projects entitled ‘People Unaware’, we are to “choose an outdoor situation where there will be lots of people and activity, and in which you will feel confident using a camera”. The brief further states “Take as many photographs as you comfortably can in one session. When you review the photographs afterwards, recall the comfort level you felt at the time, and consider to what extent this helped you in capturing expression and gesture.

For this exercise I went to a local event which was a motorcycle show. I took my Sony A6000 with two lenses, one a wide angle and a long tele-photo to help me pick out the subjects without giving much away in terms of my positioning and causing subjects to be distracted by the camera.

Click on any image to enlarge:

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In this first selection I was keeping my distance and watched as people talked and moved around the show. One group of guys where looking at the motorcycles on display and talking to one of the owners. Sometimes just standing still and waiting for people to pass was a good option and not so conspicuois.

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On the next group of pictures I observed as a photographer took photos of children and riders against a green screen. It was easy with so many people around to watch others taking selfies and talking to each other without the risk of been seen.

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As you can imagine, I took my time with these shots!!! Two models were having a photo session with another pro photographer, so I could easily sit in the background just behind the main photographer and take photos (as others did) while the girls did their thing. I moved around to get side and front views while the session took place.

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On this last set of four photos, I watched a lady photographer as she also moved around much like myself, taking pictures of folks at the stalls and generally around the bike show. I also watched as one famous biker being filmed so I took a photo of the interview taking place as well as a behind the scenes shot of the cameraman.


This was a fairly easy way to take photos of people in an open area without risk of being seen or becoming conscious of my presence to others and thus feeling embarrassed. Using a long tele-photo lens helped me keep my distance from the subjects and close in from afar without too much detection.