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CrossFit Open Photography 2019

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Lens: Canon 135mm f2.0 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 1000. Xplorer 600 strobe to camera right

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The CrossFit Open

CrossFit Open 2019 is in the pages of history. Every year CrossFit Incorporated and Reebok host the CrossFit Games in an effort to find the “Fittest on Earth.” You can learn more about the Games here on the CrossFit Games Wikipedia page. One cool thing about the Games is that anyone can qualify. The initial qualifying rounds are held at each individual CrossFit Box. “Box” is the term for a CrossFit facility that distinguishes it from your ordinary, everyday “gym.” The Open lasts for 5 weeks, one workout per week, typically held on Friday evening.

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Why I love CrossFit

Many people benefit from CrossFit in many different ways. It’s not all about the super, muscle-bound, elite athletes you see during television coverage of the Games or on YouTube videos. For me personally, I benefit from strength training to help alleviate the pain associated with osteoarthritis resulting from the surgical steel orthopedic hardware in my pelvis, femur and lower back. If you don’t know that story, you can read about it on my About Chad Foreman  page.

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Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.8. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 400. Strobes with magmods, camera right and background.

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CrossFit Contribution

As a photographer, part of my contribution to the CrossFit community and my local box, AFC CrossFit, is that I photograph the Open each year. The Open is a special time of year for the CrossFit community. It’s the time when all of the athletes push themselves to a whole new level. It’s a time to really test your progress from the year. For me, it’s a great opportunity to practice photographing athletes at their game.

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Improvements for 2019

My biggest change and improvement for 2019 was two-fold. I shot the entire Open with fixed, also called prime, lenses. Also, I used a lot of off-camera flash to create dramatic lighting.

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Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 200. Xplorer 600 to camera right and one backlighting her.

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Fixed vs. Zoom Lenses

In the world of lenses there are two main categories: zoom and fixed. Zoom lenses have an adjustable focal point that is attained by rotating the barrel of the lens. Think of the term “zoom in” when talking about getting closer to the action. Many sports photos are shot with zoom lenses because the athletes may be coming towards the photographer, like a running back charging for the end zone, and the photographer needs to change the focal length by “zooming out” in order to fit the athlete in the frame. The focal length is the distance from the rear element of the lens to the sensor. The smaller the number, the larger the field of view. Examples of two popular zoom lenses are 24-70mm and the 70-200mm. The measurement in millimeters is the focal length and the two numbers indicate the zoom range of the lens.

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Fixed Lenses

Fixed lenses have one focal length. Popular fixed lenses include the 50mm, 35mm, 85mm and 135mm. These are the four lenses in which I shot this year’s Open. You might be wondering “Chad, why would you cary 4 different lenses that you need to change in the middle of the action?” That’s a very good question that I thought you might ask. The answer is two-fold. Just like everything else in life, especially relationships, everything in photography is a compromise. A give and a take. You can have this but you must sacrifice that. There is no one, perfect lens for all things.

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Lens: Canon 50mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 400. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera right.

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Lens: Canon 50mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 400. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera left.

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Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.2. Shutter: 1/500. ISO: 100. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera left, strobe with Magmod bounce to camera right.

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Optical Image Quality

Fixed lenses are called prime lenses because they have the best image quality. There is a certain look attained with a prime lens that is very distinguished. The reason for this is that in order to change the focal length in a zoom lens, there must be multiple glass elements that slide back in forth within the lens. Any time light passes through glass, it gets a little bit distorted. Less pieces of glass equal less distortion.

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A Wider Aperture

Fixed lenses allow for a wider aperture. The aperture is the opening in a lens that allows light through it. This opening is adjustable and measured in stops that are indicated with an f-value. The smaller the number, the more light comes through. The aforementioned zoom lenses only open up to f2.8. My prime lenses open up to f1.4 and two of them, the 50mm and 85mm open up to f1.2. That’s two additional stops of light which allow me to use a faster shutter speed, which is crucial for capturing sports action. This is also crucial because the CrossFit box is very dark with a black floor and gray walls. Not so optimal for photography.

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Lens: Canon 50mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.2. Shutter: 1/800. ISO: 640. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera right.

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Shallower Depth of Field

An additional benefit of the wider aperture achieved with prime lenses is a shallower depth of field. The depth of field is the plane of view that is in focus. A prime lens at f1.2 is going to have less in focus than the zoom lens at f2.8. The advantage of this is that it puts the focus directly on the athlete. The background is less important and therefore, out of focus. The down side of this is that it can be very easy to get your athlete out of focus. If those eyes aren’t in focus, the shot is lost. Nothing else matters.

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Off-Camera Flash

CrossFit Open 2019 was also an experiment for me to use more off-camera flash. Off-camera flash means taking your flash, or strobe light(s) off of your camera and using a remote trigger to fire them. The advantage of taking your light off-axis to the camera is that it uses shadows to create more depth. Our eyes are tricked by light and shadow to create more depth in an image. On-axis light has the effect of flattening everything out and making it look plain and dull.

I did a lot of experimenting with light by placing my strobes at different angles. Sometimes I was trying to outline a side of the figure to define muscle tone. Sometimes I backlit the subject for a dramatic appearance.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column_inner][/fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_imageframe image_id=”3420|full” max_width=”2100px” style_type=”” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”yes” gallery_id=”crossfit-open-2019-blog” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”crossfit open sports photography blog 08″ link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/crossfit open photography blog/crossfit-open-sports-photography-blog08.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_builder_column_inner type=”1_1″ layout=”1_2″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” hover_type=”none” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.2. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 640. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera left.

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What do you think?

Did you enjoy learning about my lens selections and why I chose them? Do you find off-camera flash fascinating? Are too  many of these pictures not tack sharp enough for your viewing pleasure?

Please let me know in the comments below.

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Categories
Kayaking Sports Photography Whitewater

Freestyle Whitewater Kayaking the New River Dries

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Josh Collins performs an Air Screw: @contsquashua

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Corey Lilly @clillyvisuals performs an Aerial Blunt

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Rains Make Waves

Heavy rains along the East Coast of the United States in the first week of August, 2018 brought a surprise spike to the rivers and a special treat to the freestyle whitewater kayaking boaters of Fayetteville, West Virginia. Typically these volumes of water are reserved for the heavy rains of the late Winter and early Spring but heavy rains storms thought otherwise. Normally this section of river is dry, which is why it is called “The Dries.” It is my personal belief that climate change is the reason storms are becoming more sporadic, unseasonable and intense.

The New River is the largest watershed East of the Mississippi. It begins in North Carolina and flows North through Virginia and West Virginia, merging with the Gauley to form the Kanawha, into the Ohio river and eventually the Mississippi. As it travels through West Virginia, elevation drops created by centuries of mountain growth and erosion form large, standing waves which are ideal for whitewater surfing.

Freestyle Whitewater Kayaking is probably the least understood of all the “extreme sports.” Most people without a background in whitewater have no idea what those kayakers are doing in those little, tiny boats. They’re bobbing and bouncing and flipping around and diving down into the water. A person on their very first whitewater rafting trip will gasp “are they in trouble?” The answer is no, they are not in trouble. Quite the opposite in fact, that person is having the time of their life.

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Shane Groves performs an Aerial Blunt: @shanegrooves

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Kayaking Evolution

Whitewater kayaking has evolved immensely from its recreational birth in the mid 1970s. I find it refreshing to know that some of those kayakers are still paddling the New and Gauley rivers of West Virginia, today in 2018. However, most of them are not out on the enormous waves of the New River Dries in today’s lighter, smaller and more agile freestyle kayaks. Most of the freestyle kayakers are the young guns of today’s whitewater generation. They are taking whitewater kayaking to the next level.

When I started kayaking in 1997, freestyle kayaking was just about to explode. People were discovering acrobatic moves that could be performed in a whitewater kayak. Vertical rotations, known as cartwheels, were the hottest moves of the day. Kayaks evolved in design at a staggering pace. Designers and manufacturers discovered knew ways of making advanced moves easier and more impressive.

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Paul Griffin performs an Aerial Blunt

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Video Boaters at Play

At that time I was a full-time video kayaker and my goals in life were to see how many cartwheels I could link together in one ride. Lines formed at the surf spots and could be in excess of 20 people long. There were 18 rafting companies and almost all of them employed 3-7 full-time video kayakers. People went back to the river after they worked on the river just to go to the local play spot and “throw ends.” (Kayaker jargon for doing cartwheels.”

There are noticeably less and less freestyle kayakers on the river today. Fewer and fewer people are coming rafting every year and therefore fewer and fewer people are developing an interest in whitewater kayaking. As there are fewer and fewer kayakers, the ability levels of these kayakers continues to grow to unprecedented levels. There may only be 5 or 6 kayakers at the wave, but these boaters are making big moves. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see these kayakers performing vertical aerial moves on the wave. Moves like the “air screw,” “aerial blunt” and “space Godzillas” (I don’t even know what a Space Godzilla is) are the hot ticket items of today.

I must say I’m proud to be friends with the pioneer kayakers of the 1970’s, the Gen-X video boaters of the early 2000’s as well as the young guns boaters of today. The world of kayaking is a small world after all.

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Michael Buechler performs an Air Screw: @littlemike304

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Categories
Football Sports Photography

Photography Blog Kickoff

It’s that time of year again. The evenings are a little bit cooler, the days aren’t quite as hot. The school busses are running. Kids are in school. It’s a nostalgic time of year. A fresh start. Everyone’s ok with hitting the books because they’ve had a nice break.

It’s also time for football. Football means a lot of different things to different people. For me, it represents a growing up, a coming of age. Experiencing strength and a competitive spirit as a young man. The feeling of a desire to annihilate your opponent. It’s been there since the dawn of humankind. Football also makes me think of my dad. He loved football. It was something that brought us together, even though I didn’t like it when he coached me. I just wanted him to watch me play and tell me good job. He just wanted me to be the best I could be.

sports football patriots newspaper
It’s an honor to have my picture chosen to be on the front page of the Sports section of the Beckley Register-Herald.

There’s school spirit and a uniting of community. There’s a special feeling that comes from seeing the school parking lot full of cars, lined up to get in and get a good seat before kickoff. The high school kids, hanging out with all of their friends. The young kids tossing footballs back and forth in the grassy areas behind the grandstands.

The smell of popcorn in the air. The play-by-play announcer’s voice over the loudspeakers. The Dolby surround sound effect of a group of referees all blowing their whistles at the same time.

The smell of grass this time of year. I’m very thankful that most of the schools in Fayette County play on natural grass fields. It might be cheaper in the long run to use that new artificial surface, but nothing compares to that true bond with nature that comes from getting your face mask buried in the dirt.

sports football patriots mud
sports football patriots mud

It’s an honor for me to have the privilege of photographing high school football for the Beckley Register-Herald. It’s game time again for me, but in a different sense. My favorite part is feeling the pre-game excitement. People in this area love their high school football and I want to deliver quality images for them. I gotta have my game face on.

Before the play starts, I focus in on the quarterback. I have to read the play, just like I was playing outside linebacker for the Bexley Lions in 1992. If that play turns into a sweep in my direction, if the running back or quarterback are coming around the end, I’m getting a little rush of adrenaline. It’s almost as if a hole opened up in front of me in the line and I know, I get to make the tackle.

sports football patriots dash
sports football patriots dash

I may not get to crash into that running back, but if I get a good shot of that young man who just did, I’m excited. I’m almost as jacked up as if I just made the tackle myself! Well, maybe not. No, definitely not, but at this age, it’s the best I can get and I’ll take it.

I’m excited to start blogging again. There’s a lot more I could say about football and blogging and photography, but hey, it’s only the first quarter!

sports football patriots
sports football patriots