Thame Tennis Club is tucked away down a little back lane just off of Queens Road and it forms the basis of this weeks behind the scenes on A portrait of Thame… Thame Tennis Club. Read the Thame Hub article that accompanies this piece here.
Thame Tennis Club are a pleasant little club with a healthy membership, serving people with a much better fitness level than mine. Mark is a coach at the club and the subject of my portrait.
The day of the portrait shoot was cold, so cold in fact that it was snowing and registering minus one on my cars temperature gauge on the way to the club. I can safely say that I’ve never photographed a portrait in the snow before and it was at this point in time that I was grateful my equipment is of professional standard and capable of operating in such conditions.
Prior to meeting Mark I had an idea of the image I’d like to portray as well as couple of images I’d like to try experimenting with. The first and main image is the one that you see above. The ‘classic’ portrait, stood in front of the net with racquet in hand. To achieve this I set up my 600 EX-RT speed-light on a lighting stand to camera left. I elevated the stand so that it brought the light just above Mark’s eye line and positioned it as close as I could without risk of it infringing on the image. The stand was weighted down against the wind by using the weight of my camera bag to hold it in place.
Once I had the shot set up I brought Mark out of the warmth and protection of his heated hut onto the court. With Mark in position it was a case of adjusting the exposure to achieve the look you see in the final image above. I wanted to expose for Mark and the net while still retaining some detail in the background.
With the main image in the bag, I set up for an image of Mark serving a few balls. To freeze the action I used the High Speed Sync mode on the 600 EX-RT, which allowed me to bring the shutter speed above the normal 1/200 second that the Canon 5D III normally allows. Anything slower than around 1/200 second would cause a lot of movement on the image and potentially blur the subject – not very flattering.
Once the lighting was set up, it was simply a case of standing in the firing line and trusting a tennis coach that I’d only met 15
Photographs complete it was quick pack up of the kit and then back to the car, out of the snow to warm up and get some feeling back in my fingers before I drove back to the studio to edit the images.
It was a pleasure to meet Mark and I wish him and Thame Tennis Club all the best for the future.