Saturday, December 14, 2013

Utah Gymnastics - Red Rocks Preview December 2013

Last night was the roll-out of Utah's 2014 gymnastics team.  The Red Rocks Preview was run as an intra-squad meet, with two 'teams' competing so that for each rotation, 5-6 athletes competed on one or the other event.  Vault and bars comprised the first two rotations (with the teams switching between the two at the end of the first rotation); rotations three and four consisted of beam and floor.  It was an opportunity for the team to get out of the gym and in front of some of their fans, and for the lone freshman to experience competition in the Jon Huntsman Center.  It also was an opportunity for photographers to knock some of the rust off by having something of a practice run at shooting a meet.


I've noted in previous blog posts that for me, gymnastics is among the most difficult sports to photograph while also being the sport with the greatest potential for photographic rewards.  At least when we're talking about the Red Rocks, we're talking about athletes at the top of their game, and the combination of strength, power, beauty, gracefulness and athleticism can go a long way toward making for a great photo.  It's a surprisingly difficult thing to accomplish, but that's what I and a bunch of other photogs were playing at last night.  Here are a few of my images from the night. (Click on an image for a larger version.)



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Utah Gymnastics: Last Regular-Season Meet

The Red Rocks had their last home meet of the season last night against #2-ranked Florida.  It's not a stretch to suggest that 'rivalry' well characterizes what these two teams bring to their competitions vs one another--Utah with many national championships to its credit and Florida with many great teams over the past few years but no banners hanging in the rafters.  Utah has struggled a bit this season and Florida has been on a tear, recently setting a national record with a seemingly unheard of team score well above 198.  Enter the Jon M Huntsman Center, with 14,930 rabid gymnastics fans who couldn't wait to root against Florida at the same time they are savvy enough to look forward to admiring the obvious talent of this foe.  The score was close after one rotation, with Utah behind.  Georgia Dabritz competed last on bars during Utah's second rotation and when her perfect score of 10 was flashed, Florida might as well have packed their bags and spared themselves the experience of watching and hearing the crowd feed off the Red Rocks feed off the crowd, etc., until the final tally of a 198.125 - 197.825 Utah victory.  That 198.125 score for Utah represents an average individual score of just better than 9.9 for all 20 routines counted toward the team total.  Absolutely remarkable, and I dare say the fans were appreciative!  It's difficult to stay focused on the task at hand with all of that going on around me, but I persisted and here am posting some of my favorite shots from last night.  (Click on images for larger versions.) Comments welcome!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

More Utah Gymnastics

Utah has only 5 home meets this year.  After last night's competition against Cal, only two more meets to go.  Sigh.  Photographing gymnastics is a lot of work and more challenging than any other sport I shoot.  Take NBA, for example.  The ball comes up the court, then goes back the other way, then up and back, etc., probably 100 times a game.  Probably more.  Lots of opportunities to photograph all sorts of great action.  It's easy to miss the unexpected, but even that is likely to come around again given that there are about 40 home games to shoot.  And with NBA, I've got my spot to shoot from and that's it.  No reason to be thinking about what other angles I might try (barring use of a remote, and I haven't gone there yet).  Compare that to gymnastics.  5 meets.  Each athlete competing on each rotation completes a routine that lasts between 3 seconds (vault if you don't count the run) to maybe 3 minutes (floor).  Opportunities for great shots are much more easily missed than I or anyone photographing the sport ever could be happy about.  On the plus side, there are good options for where to shoot from for each event, but in a way that only serves to increase the pressure in that it leads to the sense that, a) it should be possible to nail the "perfect" shot, and b) there's no reason to ever take the same shot twice across multiple meets.  Also, no matter how good any one shooting location might be, that will only be true for the part of the routine when the athlete is facing you, which at best is likely to be half the time.

Okay, enough complaining.  The truth is, there isn't anything more exciting than photographing gymnastics, and as far as I'm concerned, there isn't any other sport with the same potential for providing such stunning images of strength, beauty, power and grace.  So it's the tremendous potential that motivates my gymnastics photography, along with the great honor of photographing one of the most storied and successful NCAA gymnastics programs in the country.  I photograph these meets for the University of Utah, so I don't have much reason to put my photos out there.  That's where this blog comes into play.  I thought I'd post some images from last night's meet, just for fun.  These athletes are off-the-charts talented.  My job is to do them justice through my photos.  Let 'er rip (click on an image for a larger view)...