with F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8
After living in Shanghai for two years and never going to a Shenhua game, even when Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were playing there and some of the locals were actually excited about the team too, I made sure to get to a Chiang Mai FC game shortly (well, a few months) after settling here.
The game itself (vs. Ayutthaya FC) was an end to end feast of fast flowing football, Brian, that eventually finished 2-2 thanks to a 94th minute equaliser by our home town heroes.
Thai football might be low on quality, like most Asian leagues, but it makes up for that with the match day experience.
Arriving at the stadium, the rows of barbecue and street food stands outside could have been transplanted from any Chiang Mai night market, and the freedom to take beer to your seat with you was a novelty I wasn’t going to pass up.
Amateur sports photography
Among the many, many things I learnt from my photography teacher, one tip that was particularly relevant for this evening was if you try to do sports photography from a spectators’ area, it’s not going to be very good.
Unless you’ve got a lens like the Hubble telescope, forget it. And even then the angle will be against you, especially high up in a football stadium.
Manual focus sports photography, especially with my F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8 lens, is never going to be like you see on the BBC Sport website. I really think it’s better to forget about even trying, and concentrate on the opportunities for good shots that are available to you.
With this firmly in mind, I spent the less exciting moments of the game trying to get shots that show how it was to be in amongst the local fans, with a couple of shots of adjacent stands too.
The 38mm focal length was versatile enough for me to do that.
Post game photographs
Continuing the theme of a far better match day experience than we get back in England, once the game was over and the advertising hoardings had been bizarrely taken away, we were able to mingle around and go down onto the pitch to meet some of the players.
Back home, I’ve seen people arrested for less.
Once it was time to leave, we hung around for a while longer in the car park, taking in the atmosphere as the fans filed away.
Two buses full of Ayutthaya FC fans were being applauded by groups of home fans, which was a well deserved gesture in my opinion. They had an almost eight hour drive to get back home, and it was by now after 9pm on a Sunday night.
Even the Ultras were joining in the show of respect, before they posed for me to take a photo of them.
You might have noticed that none of my pictures here have even attempted to show any action from the match. That was deliberate, and I think the set would have been worse had I tried.
Honestly, let the guys at pitch-side get pictures of the game while you get ones of the people, the evening, the atmosphere, the feeling, the flavour… the things that make more interesting photos than the game does, and that give your audience a far greater sense of what it was like to be there.
Here’s a project for you:
Go to a sports match. Take your camera. Don’t take any pictures of the game. Come back with a great set of pictures anyway. Tell us about it and link us up in the comments below. I look forward to seeing your work. 🙂
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