Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/11/21

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Swimming! NOW: How to!
From: Ted Grant <>
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 17:10:15 -0800
References: <A01060006-1022-61D3BD46FDB211D6B06D003065C7DF66@[]>

Adam Bridge wrote:  Lots of good stuff on shooting swimming .

Ok Adam old buddy,
fess up. ;-)  You either were a competive swimmer, coach or you've shot a
lot of swimming to understand and make those observations. All excellent for
any Leica user thinking of photographing swimming, local, school, or high
end competition.
Thanks Adam,

> Ted has lots of good observations.
> Your head-on start is a challenging shot best used for big powerful
athletes who
> SNAP off the blocks. For a brief moment these athletes will have their
> arched and their heads up (not all but most) and that's the moment you
have to
> shoot for. You'll need to study the athelete you want to photograph either
> during warmups when they are doing starts or in  a pervious heat to know
> their starting technique is suitable.
> Swim coaches are subtle people, but there are often moments of true
> between a coach and an athlete before the finals of a big race. In college
> meets you won't see this very often. In conference championships there
> moments.
> Swimmers before they compete slide into their own space. It's the moments
> a race where emotion is most often found. If you are shooting distance
> you'll find that they are not as "blown out" at the end of their races as
> sprinters who completely deplete themselves in the 50 or 100s, not
breathing at
> all in the 50s and only rarely in the 100s. They have a few moments after
> finish where most are just letting their bodies catch up before the
meaning of
> what they have done latches in.
> Some athletes swim to make your photo #1 a great shot because they tuck
> heads way back and almost are looking backwards in the pool.
> I find photo #3, which I assume to be the breaststroke, to be interesting,
> canted style is distinct. Shoot to catch the hands just as they begin to
> forwad or just as the head is about the begin its downward motion into the
> water.
> I find the shallow depth of field in the two butterfly shots to be
> You don't have the luxury of huge strobes mounted on the ceiling in order
> catch the swimmer with tons of light so you don't have to be shooting
> Maybe let the athlete get a little closer.
> Turns are fascinating - lots of water motion going on - sometimes you can
> an abstract from the froth as the barely-visible swimmer turns.
> Coaches on distance events (1000, 1650 in short course events 800 and 1500
> long course) can be fascinating. In virutally all other races the coach
> communicate with the swimmer but in distance events they whistle, jesture,
> body languge, facial expressions, the works. It's a gruelling experience
> while the athlete has tons of aerobic capacity the muscles of legs,
> and arms are being seriously depleted. You won't see many gasping at the
> but some of them struggle to get out of the water, especially at pools
> international ends that rise a half-meter or so above the surface of the
> If you take the time, watch, and look for the quiet moments of drama
> the pool I'm sure you'll find them.
> College swimming is a GREAT sport. The longest lasting record on
> championships is held by the men of Kenyon College in Div III which is
> old.
> Good luck - keep us (I can't resist it) posted on your efforts.
> Adam Bridge
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In reply to: Message from Adam Bridge <> (Re: [Leica] Swimming! NOW: How to!)