by James Gunn Published 01/06/2013
Unlike football matches, the fans from both sides freely mix with each other and enjoy a beer (or two) along with some friendly banter. Many fans make the effort to dress up for the occasion and normally in a theme that matches their country, eg the Welsh fans have daffodil or dragon costumes, the French sometimes dress as Astrix the Gaul or cockerels, the English as medieval knights and the Irish as leprechauns complete with Guinness hats! It all adds to the atmosphere and I often take the opportunity to wander around before the match and snap the more colourful characters.
Around 40 minutes prior to kick-off, both teams come onto the pitch to undertake a warm up and it gives an opportunity to set up my camera and take a few practice shots and get 'tuned in'. All three matches were played in grey and dull conditions and this meant that an ISO setting of around 1,250 was needed to get a shutter speed of 1/1000sec at f2.8. However, as the matches progressed into the late afternoon, the daylight started to fade and the ISO had to be increased to compensate.
When the floodlights start to dominate over the daylight, then it is time to change the white balance (WB) from daylight to a lower Kelvin value. The tungsten or fluorescent WB settings can often give the right skin tone, but sometimes it is a matter of manually dialling in a value of between 4,000 and 5,000. If the WB setting is not changed when the floodlights are dominant, the skin tone becomes too orange/yellow in colour, even when in Auto WB mode. I like to freeze the action at 1/1000sec, but during floodlit night matches or really dull days, I have been known to drop down to 1/640sec to avoid racking up the ISO and the resulting noisy images.
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