All Black halfback Smith scores try
All Black halfback Aaron Smith scoring – (1/1250 @ f/3.5 ISO 8000, EOS 1DX, EF70-200)

‘Just shoot celebrations and dejection’

A recent ‘experience of a lifetime’ reminded me of the importance of keeping both eyes open when you are shooting pictures.

It is a method particularly suited to photographing fast-moving things like birds, but can equally be applied to landscapes, architecture, travel and portraiture; just about anything, really.

I guarantee that if you adopt the both-eyes-open approach, you will be much more aware of ‘place’ and therefore better able to include creativity and interest in your images that might otherwise be missed with one eye closed.

On assignment

The value of the technique was brought home to me in August this year (on my 73rd birthday, in fact) while on ‘assignment’ with my son David at an Australia v New Zealand Bledisloe Cup rugby test in Sydney.

Birds are one thing, but I confess I was a little out of my comfort zone shooting sport and knowing that I was expected to contribute at least some usable images for his client.

An extra jacket

“Just find yourself a good spot behind the goal line and shoot tries, celebrations, injuries and dejection,” said the lad as he handed me a little camp chair, a bottle of water and an extra jacket to keep out the cold of a Sydney winter’s night.

As luck and a bit of chronologically acquired cunning would have it, the combination of my two-eyed technique, my beloved Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens, David’s spare 1DX body and the run of play presented me with some good opportunities.

Brodie Retallick celebrates try
New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick celebrating an upcoming try – (1/1250 @ f/3.5 ISO 6400, EOS 1DX, EF70-200)

None of the stresses

To put things in perspective, my job for the Neilson team on the night involved none of the stresses of full perimeter shooting, or the prepping and instant filing of images for demanding clients throughout the game. Like photographing shorebirds on an incoming tide, I just sat there and waited for the play to come my way.

Modern rugby is a fast-moving game and the two-eyed technique made it much easier to keep track of the ball and switches in play that occurred beyond the viewfinder.

It was an experience I will never forget – and if all goes well, I might be down on the boundary for one of the big cricket tests in Australia this summer.

Tony Neilson with cameras
A 73rd birthday I will never forget. Photo courtesy … my son.

Dominant eye exercise

If you want to try two-eyed shooting but don’t know your dominant eye, try this exercise:

  • With both eyes open, stretch an arm out and point your index finger at something at least two arm lengths away. (Don’t be put off if you can see two index fingers – that’s the eyes feeding different images to the brain.).
  • Keep your arm still and remain focused on the object. Close one eye, open it, then close the other eye. Do this a couple of times, and while you stay focused on the distant object, notice which eye you have open when the index finger is perfectly aligned with the target.
  • That’s your dominant eye.

With your dominant eye to the viewfinder, you will be able to use the non-dominant eye to keep you aware of what’s happening outside the frame.

©Natural Images 2018


©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.


2 thoughts on “A SPORTING CHANCE

  • David Neilson September 21, 2018 at 8:15 AM Reply

    You did a cracking job! Far exceeded expectations 🙂

  • Tony Neilson September 21, 2018 at 3:47 PM Reply

    Thanks David – the pleasure was all mine

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