A dear friend Aizuddin Danian provided me with Premier Season passes to the Maybank Malaysia Open 2013, a prestigious Badminton tournament happening in Kuala Lumpur. The season pass allowed me entry from 18th to 20th January, from the day of Quarter-finals on Friday, Semi-finals on Saturday and today, the Finals. I was only available on Sunday, and joining me was Jason Lioh.
And I brought along my Olympus gear !!! Finally the DSLR E-5 gets some workout. Surely, the one lens to be used for this sports event was the Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5.
The entry Pass
Where I sat was actually off-centered from the court.
Jason Lioh and his bazooka lens.
Spotted at Malaysia Open, the Ming Thein and OMD + Panasonic 100-300mm lens.
There were 5 total matches today, all finals, starting from Women's Singles, Mix Doubles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles and finally Men's Singles. Our main target was of course Men's finals, because Datuk Lee Chong Wei, a Malaysian hero was playing !! Yes I can be very biased, but hey, I can choose who or what I want to shoot !
Playing on your home ground is an advantage, the cheers from the crowd can be extremely empowering to the home player.
This was no easy shooting session. The lighting condition was very dim, and I needed to boost my ISO on the E-5 up to 3200 to get sufficient shutter speed. I was initially shooting at shutter priority, with shutter speed set to 1/500sec, but then I realized since I also needed to maximize the light coming in the camera, why not just leave the aperture open at its widest. Therefore I set the camera to fully manual, with shutter speed at 1/500sec and aperture varying from F2.8-3.5 (depending on lens zoom). Even at shutter speed 1/500sec, it was barely sufficient to freeze everything, I still get motion blurred shots, especially the movements of the rackets and shuttlecocks. I believe 1/1000sec would be perfect but that would mean I needed to use ISO6400 and goodness gracious, ISO6400 on my camera means I'd rather save the shutter count.
Another issue was not being close enough. Even at my furthest telephoto zoom of 200mm, I still did not get sufficient reach. All the images in this entry were cropped, obviously, and for web display they looked fine.
When Lee Chong Wei was about to finish the match off, I prepared my lens to focus on his moments of victory. I wanted to capture that expression of joy after winning a title !!
Well, the camera settings was spot on, lens was framing properly, and the autofocus was working perfectly fine, and I was saw Lee Chong Wee about to pour his expression just as he finish off the last point........ suddenly, out of nowhere, totally unexpected a kid stood up in front of me and BLOCKED my lens !!!! As simple as that... my most crucial shot of the day was RUINED !! It must have been the only time my scream was louder than the crowd's cheer. Oh well.... this was a lesson well learned, no matter how well you planned for something, sometimes, things just get screwed up.
So here is the screwed up shot. I did some funky editing.... just for the fun of it since the shot was already lost in the first place.
The final score (look at the scoreboard at the background)
Datuk Lee Chong Wei won the match without a sweat !! It was an easy win for him and the Malaysians who attended the match were proud to have witnessed his victory.
I did say I wanted to be more open to different opportunities this year, and indeed I have explored a little bit of the world of sports photography. However, I must conclude that.... sports photography is not my cup of tea. I did enjoy shooting the match, and surely with more capable gear and better position (the best would be the media pit just outside the court) but I do not see myself shooting sports at all. It somehow did not click.