Commack High School Boys Varsity Fencing vs. Walt Whitman

Commack High School Boys Varsity Fencing vs. Walt Whitman

Need a few tips on photographing high school fencing? If you're just here for the photos, scroll down to the bottom of the post and click on any thumbnail to open the gallery.

  • Stay well back from the strip. The referee will be moving along the strip with the fencers and you want to be well out of his/her way.
  • If you're photographing only one team position yourself on the side of the strip opposite your fencer so you're shooting on an angle toward's his/her front. I usually sit on the floor when shooting from the side. From this angle, if I get lucky, I can get the scoring light coming on during a hit. For one of the weapons I move to the end of the strip behind the fencers seats out of their line of site. This gives me a different angle and adds a little variety to the photos. I'm standing for these shots since I'm shooting over the seated fencers. It goes without saying to check with the ref before the match on where you can and can't shoot from. As with most sports, in tournaments and championships your access will probably be more restricted than for a normal high school team match.
  • Fencing is a sport of sudden, quick moves. If your gym is dark enough where you can't achieve a high enough shutter speed, take your photos when the movement is at a minimum. Despite the 1/800 sec. shutter speed I'm using for this match you can still see motion blur in some photos. Because of this combination of low light and fast, unpredictable moves, you need to take lots of photos since your keeper rate will be low.
  • I use zone focusing (multiple focus points) when shooting from the side of the strip and single focus point when shooting from the end of the strip. In both cases I'm trying to keep the focus point(s) on the fencer's mask. As with other sports, I'm using continuous autofocus.
  • I try to get a photo of the fencer with his/her mask off before the bout begins and another at the end. These help to identify the fencers to relatives and friends who may be looking at the photo gallery since, most of the time, you can't see through the mask. Other photo ops to look out for are the fencer's reactions after scoring a point and the reactions of the rest of the team on the bench. Don't forget the coach and ref.
  • If you post-process your photos, try lightening the shadows on the fencers' masks. This sometimes helps to reveal their face a bit more.

Have fun.

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