Table Tennis at the Sports Centre

Tour de France came to Cambridge yesterday, which drew a lot of people and caused the university to close down. So at lunch time I took my camera and went out to photograph. On the way into town I passed a police officer and asked her how many people they estimated were in Cambridge today, “A few”. A typical British understatement, the area outside the Senate house was completely packed. I went up in St Mary’s Church, but it seemed more people had the same idea. In the end I found a spot with a decent view and settled in to wait for the cyclists.

As soon as the bikers appeared, a wall of arms rose up in front of me. Anyway, I managed to snap a shot of the first bikers coming past, led by some fellow in a yellow t-shirt. The photo was quite crowded, so I decided to desaturate the crowd to put the emphasis on the bikers.

The afternoon was a lot more fun, I met up with Christiana and two of her friends to play table tennis and take a few photos. I had brought my ND filter with me, which I have used in a previous blog post. This time we had two ideas, the first one was to take multiple shots and combine them into one photo to make a table tennis game where one person is playing with themselves. Writing this I just got another idea, we should have made it look like it was just one person running around the table to play a game of around the table ping-pong with a blurry trail showing the speed of movement. Anyway, that is for the future…

We did a lot of these shots with longer exposure, my favourite one ended up being this one between the game. You can just make out Marie Louise and Charis as blurry shapes. We took a decent amount of photos, so might go through them again later and add a couple more. What I learned though was that it is probably better to choreograph the shot when doing composites to minimise the overlap.
Christiana playing with herself. If you look closely you can see the ball in mid air close to the table. There was a big difference in brightness between the sky and the shadows. I exposed for the sky so as not to overexpose it. By using a tripod the alignment of the two images was a piece of cake.


Marie Lousie van Spyk jumping. Here I was lying on the ground to get her against the sky, but even so there was a little tree photobombing us that I removed with content-aware fill.

For some of the photos I knew ahead of time what I was going to make, for others (most of them!) I was just going with the flow. This made the post processing a very open ended affair and the final result was a mix of different themes.

The 3D graphics in computer games are getting more and more impressive these days. Here again I was lying on the ground with my 20 mm lens. I like how the tall grass adds depth to the photo. The idea to make it into a computer game only came to me afterwards, while I was sitting in photoshop playing around.
Clone wars! I asked Christiana and Marie Lousie to do a bit of fighting, then while post processing I got the idea to paste a second copy of Christiana into this shot to make it more dramatic.
Last photo of the day, Christiana diving into the sky. This is what I picture Australia must be like. I first edited the photo the right way up, and was looking to add something to explain why Christiana was lifting up from the ground. Was there a tornado (I started googling for how to photoshop one of those), was there some divine light pulling her up? In the end I came up with the idea of turning the photo upside down. Done! It looks like she is diving into a deep ocean, pulled down by gravity.

I like these spontaneous photo shoots that just materialise themselves by bringing together fun and creative people. Just writing this blog I got new ideas for how to improve the next iteration of long exposure shots. If you don’t know what to do the rest of the day, why not call some friends and meet up somewhere and see where it takes you? Having some props usually helps to start the creative flow of ideas.


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