Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Olympic Fencing

Monday, August 6th, 2012

We managed to get a couple of sets of fencing tickets for the 2012 games here in London thanks to a lucky draw in the initial ticket lottery as well as an unlucky friend who was unable to attend (thanks Robert!).  I convinced Danni to join me for the medal bouts of the men’s foil early in the week in hopes that she’d enjoy it enough to be my date for the men’s team foil finals a few days later.

The venue was stunning; lit up like a futuristic battle arena awaiting the combatants to arrive and cross blades on an elevated, multi-coloured dueling platform.  I couldn’t have been more excited!

I was too worried about being denied entrance to the venue if I brought my big camera & lenses, so for the first event I limited myself to a little point and shoot.  I needn’t have worried though, there were plenty of SLR cameras in the stands.  I may have missed out on getting some good images that first day, but not having a bit camera let me fully immerse myself in the fencing at hand.  Which was good, as it was fast, furious and thrilling to watch!

China was the eventual winner of the individual bouts which got Danni hooked enough to want to come back and watch the team events.  It was a good thing the individual bouts were first as they were full of drama, excitement and close matches.  The team events were all fairly one sided and the question of the eventual winners never really came up.

Italy wins gold!

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed both days and was really happy to get some nice photos of Olympic caliber fencing.  It was awe-inspiring and humbling to watch, and made me wish I was much more strict with my own personal training schedule.  Maybe 2016 will be my year…

More images in the gallery.

Stag Party Tankball

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Tankball you say?  Yes, tankball.  It’s like paintball, but with tanks.  Take a moment and allow the awesomeness of that thought marinate for a bit.

My best mate Robert secretly arranged for a group of my friends to meet up in St. Pancaras to board a train heading north.  The plan was to keep the events of the day secret from me until we arrived, but on of my friends let things slip while we were waiting so my anticipation was triggered early!

Rosie (our tank) and I

Upon arrival there was the usual waiver signing (you know it’ll be fun if you have to sign a waiver), briefing and dividing into teams.  Our gang was transformed into three groups of three: driver, gunner and loader/firer on each team.  We then headed out to meet our tanks.

My command & conquor profile

You have a member of staff in the already cramped tank with your team at all times.  Each team member gets a chance to drive the beast around their circular track (smiling for a photo op halfway through), then a shot at sitting in the gunners seat working out the aiming of the gun and calling out when to fire, and finally you’re in the loaders seat shoving ping-pong balls full of paint down the barrel and pressing that oh-so-satisfying FIRE button.  Once you’ve each made the rounds, it’s time for a quick spot of tea and some strategy before the tank-on-tank melee begins!

This was the view through the front of the tank.  I've actually enhanced the contrast, the visibility wasn't this good.

This was the part of the day I was most excited about, and since it was my day I got to choose the position I wanted on my team.  Driver.  I had visions in my head of barreling around the field and tactically positioning our tank for the most cover and best firing positions.  I was moderately let down here.  The battle actually takes place along two parallel tracks where the pair of tanks plod along in a straight line, stopping 4 or 5 times at marked locations to fire a couple of rounds and then move on to the next marker.

While disappointed that my tank driver fantasies were dashed, I wasn’t going to let that get me down and vowed to push our ride to it’s breaking point while still keeping within the confines of the rules laid out.

After lining up side by side with our enemy, we were given a countdown and then the green light to go.  My foot stomped metal, metal made contact with metal somewhere below and we were off!  As we approached the first marker our staff member began to urge me to slow down so we could stop in time.

I ignored him.

Only after four or five frantic requests across the mic to slow down did he finally say the magic word ‘STOP!’.   This caused my lead foot to switch from full on accelerator to full on breaking.  Somewhere behind me I could hear my team mates Rob and Neal being thrown about in their seats and this pleases me.  They somehow managed to regain their composure and fire off our requisite shots…I had no idea if they were hits or misses.  All that really mattered was getting to the next marker in record speed.

The tank crews!

In the end our team of brave, battered warriors were victorious over Robert, Alex and Tim with a score of 10 hits to 7 out of a possible 12.  While congratulations and commiserations were being given I heard the opposing teams staff member say it looked as though our hard driving had almost broken our tank a couple of times.

This also pleased me.

All in all, it was a brilliant day out.  Thanks to all my friends who came along and made it even better.  There are a couple more images in the gallery.


Thursday, March 4th, 2010

It was almost a year and a half ago now when my hosting company upgraded a few things on the backend of my server.  One of their upgrades was to force a new version of WordPress (the blogging software I use here) which broke a lot of the customizations I had made to the old version.  It was largely my own fault as I was making changes to the core of the program and not the templating system that they’d intended users to modify.

The most annoying (and difficult) things that broke was the fact that the site menu structure (the red bar on the right there) had disappeared from the gallery making navigation a pain in that area.  This site uses a combination of the aforementioned WordPress for the framework and Gallery 2 for the photo gallery (and a plug-in called WPG2 to glue the two together).  Using a standard WordPress template will nicely integrate the gallery into WordPress, but not the other way around so I had to do some tinkering to get the WordPress menus to show up correctly while browsing the gallery.

Long story short, the WordPress menu is now available throughout the site and I’m rather pleased about that.  Also, WordPress upgrades should no longer break anything.  I hope.

I haven’t posted many fencing photos in quite a while, but I’m still taking a lot.  They’re now being posted over at my clubs website in the gallery there.

Fencing Coaches

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

As part of the website creation process for my fencing clubs new site I’ve taken several head shots of the coaches.  It’s the first time I’ve used a 3 light setup (having just picked up another 580 EX II while back home), and it wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting.  I think the trick is just to add one light at a time until everything looks the way you’d imagined.  The setup shot is here, where the tripod in the middle is where I had the subject stand.

In this case I wanted to use the colour of the walls in our gym to add a warm, orange-ish background and use a fairly fast shutter speed to kill any ambiant light and make the rest of the image darker.  In this way I could get an orange/black look that would match the colour scheme of the website and I’m quite happy with the results.

A couple of examples are here, and the rest are in the gallery.

Fencing Photos

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

With the impending launch of the Central London Fencing Club website, I’ve been taking quite a few extra photos of the action.  Partly because the new site needs some shots, but largely because I haven’t been doing as much photography as I’d like lately so it gives me an excuse.

So, there’s a few new albums of fencing shots taken over the past couple of weeks.  I’ve added the CLFC logo to them as well as my own contact details.  The reason for this is that I’ll probably just be uploading fencing shots to the gallery over at the CLFC site.  Here’s a few of my favourite shots and there are more in these galleries (1, 2, 3).