Tuesday 21 May meeting


Mark is a highly successful award-winning sports photographer and he started his talk with a slide show set to music which featured some of his favourite shots. They were stunning. Then he talked about how he got the shots, the reaction to some of them and tips on how to get these type of quality images in any genre of photography.


His tips were: get all the technical issues sorted well before you take the shot, shoot on manual, use ‘back-button’ focussing, be technically, physically and mentally prepared, and most important don’t be frightened to fail but ‘learn from your failures’.


He spoke about how he got his most famous shot – In The Firing Line – where Tiger Woods miscued his drive sending the golf ball straight into Mark’s lens, but not before Mark pressed the shutter a milli-second before it struck. This shot went viral, not just for the incident, but also for a golf fan in shot, cigar-man, who briefly became an internet sensation.


Mark also spoke of a wonderful bobsleigh shot in St. Moritz of a bobsleigh banking at 90 degrees with a mother and child, plus child’s sledge, watching on. He had been commissioned to capture the British women’s team and duly got the shot for the newspaper but then wanted to find something more creative, which he did. He was all set up in place with the correct settings to shoot the image he wanted when the longest bendy bus in Switzerland came between him and his subject. The intended shot was gone. He was not a happy bunny but quickly changed tack, and his camera settings, and managed to grab the shot of the bobsleigh, mother and child perfectly.


In the second half of his talk he started off with a slide show of his Olympic shots set to the Chariots of Fire. Again a feast of stunning award-winning images. Getting the photo you want means getting in the right place at the right time. It took Mark several days to get the shot of a runner passing through the shimmering haze of the Olympic flame, it was well worth the wait. He also spent a great deal of time getting the precise shot he wanted of a table tennis player at the Para-Olympics. She had a particular way of balancing the ping-pong ball before she served.


In the question-and-answer session after his talk he spoke about the prospect, later in the year, of moving towards a ‘hybrid’ camera which has the advantages of the DSLR and mirror-less camera. Apparently both Canon and Nikon, and maybe Sony, will be bringing out these cameras before the end of the year. For Mark the ergonomics – how comfortable it is to use – of whatever set up he has is much more important than anything else.


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Oxford Photographic Society