Yes, I missed last Monday for writing the blog – first, it was a bank holiday, and second I had one of 5 games over a 9 day period to shoot, process and upload and things were rather hectic.
So this week it is back to normal and as its Monday I am writing the blog.
Just before the first of the five games (Saturday Monday Tuesday Saturday Sunday), I took delivery of a piece of new equipment – a monopod, or one-legged tripod if you like. Monopods are much more mobile than tripods – they are lighter and easier to carry (some can be used as walking poles), and they allow the photographer to steady the camera more than if using it just handheld although obviously, they do not hold it as still as a tripod and you do have to keep hold of the camera/monopod set up. This can make a big difference especially in lower light situations with slower shutter speeds allowing sharp photos to be taken which would be a struggle just handheld – but like any new piece of equipment, they require some changes of technique and practice to master.
First off although they are more mobile than tripods they are considerably less mobile than having nothing except the camera and it is a big change for me to spend the vast majority of a game static rather than chasing up and down the wing like a mad thing. Part of the reason I ordered the monopod was being forced to reduce my mobility anyway. Melksham Town games see larger crowds than I have been used to which means I need to work pitchside rather than around the outside of the pitch and pitchside means far less movement from me anyway. I have also had to reduce my movement due to pulling a calf muscle during the match on the 18th of August which precipitated getting the monopod as I was going to have to be sat down for the next few matches after the 18th while that heals. So stool to sit on a monopod and I am ready to learn.
Monopods have various adjustable bits to them – which may differ from make to make. On my new one, I can change the height, how freely the top bit that the camera is attached to swivels, and how much the top bit can be tilted. Starting with the height I find that quite difficult to get right – I need it so I can comfortably look through the viewfinder without neck strain but also look over the camera to see the whole pitch and (hopefully) work out where the next photo will be. Of course, when I am using the camera handheld I just raise and lower my arms to move the camera to my eye and away from my eye, but with the monopod, the camera is more fixed so I am learning to move my head. As my position changes through the match it is necessary to make small adjustments to the height but I am getting better at it. Then there is how easily the top with the camera turns and tilts – if it is too loose it makes the camera harder to control, too stiff and it becomes too slow to track the action.
So having had 5 games to get used to it – or start getting used to it, I am finding it is making a difference. The area I am seeing the biggest impact is in the more distant shots, I am getting many more pin sharp which is good. I am still struggling with some of the really close action – ironically where my mobile habits bleed through I am losing some shots I would previously have got. However, I think over time as I become more skilled and the monopod more automatic to use my photography using it is going to improve and I will be getting shots I would never have managed beforehand.