Yes I am one of those weirdoes who likes to shoot golf. For seven years, I worked at one of the two weekly golf magazines in the world. I shot the sport quite often both amateur and pro events – women and men. I took the knowledge and connections I made during my time as a staffer to build a client base in the freelance world.
For the last five-plus seasons, I have been hired to shoot stock for the LPGA’s Symetra Tour at several events around the country. Shooting stock at a golf event means one thing, clean reusable images. Most golf courses in Florida have houses around them killing chances of a clean photo.
But as with most sports, I use a Nikon 600 f:4 which will generally cleans up most backgrounds especially on a full frame camera like a Nikon D3s. Shooting wide open gives me a shallow depth of field to clean up the backgrounds.
Even with a 600, I try to find as many holes as possible to work for good images – tee boxes, fairways and greens.
Each tournament I do for the Symetra Tour I receive a shot list of players to get for the tour, at the recent Guardian Retirement Championship it was a fairly big list so I stayed busy for the two days I was there.
When I am shooting golf stock it is a little different from covering an event for the news value, I am there to make clean reusable photos and a couple of good holes can be a lifesaver.
One advantage I have shooting the Symetra Tour over either the PGA Tour or LPGA is the use of a golf cart. Each morning I load up a cart and head out armed with the shoot list, usually only taking a break around lunch when the afternoon wave is just starting out. If I need to chase down a player that might be playing well it is easier to get to them with a cart and at times I bounce back and forth to get different types of photos.
If I have not been to a course before I try to get there on Friday – I usually just shoot on the weekend – so I can drive the course to find the best holes to work for the images I need. If possible to try finding a cluster of holes – ones where a tee or two is near a green and a good fairway is close – allowing me to bounce around with a group and knock off several different types of photos of players.
At the recent event in Sarasota, Florida I really only had one or two good holes that allowed me to bounce around. However this course also has what maybe one of the cleanest and purest backlit tee boxes of any of the golf events I have ever shot. The course maintenance area is right behind the second hole tee box. With 10-foot high dark green bushes and sun coming from directly behind the players I was able to get nearly everyone on my list with a very dark of not back background.
When shooting backlit like the second hole, I usually switch my camera’s color settings to vivid instead of the normal standard color. The backlight can be a little flat, and the vivid setting help punch the color up and it also has a bit more contrast than the standard setting.
A few holes later there is a nice green with good bunkers to the front and right side, also darer trees and the tee box for the next hole is 30 feet away, surrounded by trees, so it is a perfect spot to work and get several different photos of a single player.
Depending on the time of day the green and tee box can either be side lit of back lit, which can cause a few problems so I have pay attention to where the balls land.