Rain, Wind and ‘Happy Hat’.   Leave a comment

I once skied on the Hintertux glacier in Austria in the middle of December. During a snow storm driven by glacial winds my chair lift stopped half way up an exposed face of  the mountain. That was a cold day. Gresham Park in Wilford Nottingham yesterday, host to the match between Notts County Ladies FC and Reading Ladies, was almost as cold as that day on the Hintertux. Only yesterday we had… ‘Happy Hat’ (and ‘Goal Cam’).

NCL FC vs Reading Ladies friendly_0109This is ‘Happy Hat’. Krista the NCLFC physio is leading a campaign to have it worn for every game this season. Or at least until the Fashion Police arrive.

The game was the first and last home friendly game as County warmed up ahead of their opener at home against Chelsea. The bad news is that we may not see Sophie Bradly in the season opener. She is still rehabilitating the knee injury she picked up last season.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0001Sophie Bradley may miss the season opener – we wish her a speedy recovery.

The pre-match warm-ups had to compete against the icy cold and driving wind and rain.

NCL FC vs Reading Ladies friendly_0091Arty-farty 8mm shot with oodles of post production – for those who care.

The game kicked off with Notts perhaps facing their toughest test to date in the pre-season friendlies – Reading Ladies FC finished 3rd in the FAWSL Div 2 last season notching up some impressive results.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0219New signing; number 18 the admirable Leanne Crichton, battles in midfield.

But Reading hardly had time to wipe the rain from their eyes before County were 2-0 up. Rachel Williams opened the scoring with a well met header and Fiona O’Sullivan doubled County’s lead only a minute or so later with a clinical finish through a tangle of feet 6 inches from the goal line. :)

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0046Rachel Williams Celebrates Notts’ opener.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0051Fiona O’Sullivan get’s County’s second….

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0053… it was a poacher’s goal. She doesn’t miss from there!

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0078The Reading sideline looked on with gloomy dispositions.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0079By contrast the Notts sideline looked much happier, stylish and less like the 7 dwarves.

Notts were playing some decent football despite the weather’s best attempts to spoil any kind of passing game.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0290But Ellen White needs to put on a little more weight – she was blown over by the wind several times during the game.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0095Reading went further behind when Ellen White, now playing with weighted boots, pounced to make it 3-0 to Notts.

NCL FC vs Reading Ladies friendly_0162Rick (Happy Hat) Passmoor clutches at two buoyancy aids as the water levels begin to rise at Gresham.

Reading, to their credit, never stopped battling and enjoyed spells of possession in the second half that threatened a goal.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0213  But they never really looked like getting back in to the game….

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0194… against a well marshaled and tactically superior County side.

Fiona O’Sullivan notched her second and Notts fourth as the light began to fade.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0528O’Sullivan and new signing Danielle Buet (whom had a stand-out game) celebrate the goal with an impromptu game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. Here they can be seen both choosing ‘Paper’.

The Reading sideline became even gloomier in the late afternoon gloom.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0148Here the away team manager points out that O’Sullivan should have chosen ‘scissors’.

As the flood lights came on (which actually made it seem darker) the wind picked up.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0409Jess Clarke is almost blown off her feet.

And there is just time enough in the dying minutes of the game for Aileen (can’t stop scoring if she tried) Whelan to make it 5-0 to County.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0554Goal Machine Whelan looks set to carry on where she left off last season.

The ref blew the whistle for full time and with all thoughts of a ‘warm-down’ forgotten the squad collectively ran for the sanctuary of a hot shower.

It’s a mouth watering prospect to have Ellen White back fit and scoring freely, Fiona O’Sullivan banging them in from two feet, Aileen Whelan still scoring for ‘fun’ (stupid expression) and currently the best striker not starting for England, Jess Clarke in the line-up.

And to finish….

…. Matt (Marketing Gargantuan) Rowland field tested his ‘Goal Cam’ project in this match. The results, which can be seen on the NCLFC website, speak for themselves.

NCL FC vs Reading 22nd Feb 2015_0538 Matt Rowland – dressed sensibly for the weather conditions – goes to retrieve ‘Goal Cam’. When the club is attracting 10,000 per home game he’s been promised a drone quad copter. :)

(c) Copyright Drew Smith Photography.

The Twitter-sphere!   Leave a comment

I had no problems with websites. I cautiously tiptoed in to the world of blogging. I was dragged by my heels on to Facebook. And this week I went kicking and screaming in to the Twitter-sphere. @DrewSmithPhoto

Here’s my first week in words and pictures:

This year (2015) I decided to bring more resource and focus to bear on my photography courses (check ‘em out here #shamelessplug  www.drewsmithphotographycourses.co.uk ) and it was in conversation with a fellow photographer and business woman that she suggested ‘getting on Twitter’ to tie in my courses with my other social media.

DL8D5970_0286I guess I was feeling a little lethargic and reluctant to start learning another social media platform (‘come on, how hard can Twitter be?’ my inner bully chipped in).

So I signed up and signed in to Twitter. Now what the hell was I supposed to do with it? Typically, like most blokes, I didn’t bother reading up on anything, instead …….

XRunner Wipeout 2014 Jump 0888….. I just leaped in to my first Tweet.

Then and only then did I start looking at ‘Re-tweets’, ‘Favourites’, ‘Replies’, ‘Followers’ and ‘Followed’ and all that other malarkey.

Luke and Bones 01I soon got to grips with the bear bones of the thing though.

After my 4th tweet somebody was following me (but in a good way; not like a stalker or axe-murderer or anything) and some of my tweets had been re-tweeted. I Googled a few Twitter strategies and looked at just what use ‘favouriting’ a tweet was (still not sure).

The Photography Show Show GirlSuddenly I felt I was getting abreast of this new media.

Next time I looked (must stop looking so often) I had 8 followers – whoo hoo! I started to wonder what I needed to do next to keep them happy and attract new followers. Should I build a gold statue of myself for them to worship or send them chocolate chip cookies through the post?

Chinese New Year female tai chiBut then an epiphany; I realised I just needed to get in touch with my inner-self.

I simply needed to Tweet about those things that interested me and hopefully anybody following me would find them interesting too.

Wooden doorA doorway has open for me in to a new world.

So, if you like my lengthy ramblings here in the Bloggers-sphere, feel free to hear a lot less from me on Twitter by following me there too; @DrewSmithPhoto

American Football – Loughborough Students vs Sheffield Sabres   3 comments

For those of you not linked in to my Facebook page (and I don’t blame you :)  ) I’ve been shooting the Loughborough University American football team for the past 3 home games. It’s been great fun and very challenging. Now I know for most people just watching American football and trying to understand what is going on can be very challenging!

Loughborough vs Sheffield_0072

The challenging bit for a photographer is getting know to whom the ball is going to be thrown at any given moment by the quarterback on a pass play. A pass play (we’ll keep this simple) is when a quarterback throws the ball to a team mate who is usually downfield of him.

Loughborough vs Sheffield_0221

I was out with a couple of my students on one of my photography courses the other day and we were talking about shooting this sport and one of them asked; ‘how the hell do you know where the ball is and who its going to?’

Loughborough vs Sheffield_0361

My response was; it really helps to know the sport. In almost any sport this allows you to anticipate what might happen next and be in the right place at the right time to get the pictures that you might otherwise have missed. ‘Okay’ they said ‘but specifically how do you know who is going to catch the ball?’

BUAF Loughborough vs Stirling_0204

Well, to answer that question lets look at some different methods of trying to achieve this; for example; in the case of a quarterback throwing to his wide receivers – you have at least 3 choices. For the sake of argument lets assume the photographer is using a 400mm telephoto lens. This is one of those big lenses the camera dangles off the back of and looks like you can see next Tuesday with it. This would be a heavy piece of kit and perched on a monopod, not something you can hand-hold and whiz about or zoom in and out with:

Method 1. focus on the quarterback and then wait to see where he is throwing it, look up from your camera viewfinder to see where the ball is going and then refocus on the intended receiver about to catch the ball. This is very tricky and works only on very long passes that spend a lot of time in the air traveling to their intended target.

Loughborough vs Sheffield_0250

Method 2. try and track the ball in flight as it leaves the quarterback’s hand. This would theoretically deliver some very good shots. In practice this is almost impossible to do as the ball travels to fast on most occasions. Do-able for long passes when the action is a good distance away.

Loughborough vs Sheffield_0028_1

Method 3. choose the wide receiver that you think is going to receive the pass before it’s thrown and focus on him. This is the easiest option but if you choose incorrectly you have no picture. This is where knowing the game really comes in; in certain situations its possible to anticipate what is going to happen next and is often worth guessing to get the shot.

Loughborough vs Sheffield_0189

Of course if you are not using a 400mm prime lens and instead have a zoom then you can zoom out and back in again as necessary to see where the ball is going and this makes life much simpler. For example; using a 70mm-200mm won’t get you as close in to the action as a 400mm but its much easier to run up and down the field of play to keep up with the action because the lens will be much smaller and much lighter.

BUAF LS vs Durham_0125

Of course you won’t necessarily get the same image quality in your shots because zoom lenses, especially the shorter zooms, tend not to create the same degree of compression that produces the wonderful isolation of the subject.

BUAF LS vs Durham_0242

But no matter which lens you decide to shoot with knowing the game and also knowing what might change in a game according to how well each team is doing, will help you be in the right place at the right time to capture better shots.

Loughborough vs Stirling_0012

You can find my photography courses here at Drew Smith Photography Courses.



National Badminton League at the Albert Hall!   Leave a comment

Yeah, well I got this totally wrong!

In the latter part of last year a certain Physio named Krista, whom I work alongside for Notts County Ladies F.C., mentioned that she was involved with the University badminton team. Of course, I immediately said I’d love to shoot the sport and she said she’d let me know the dates nearer the time of their next game in January.

So there was I thinking ‘local leisure center’ badminton when last week Krista emails me to say she’d got me ‘photographer accreditation’ for the game on the 26th. ‘Accreditation’? For a leisure center knock-about?

The penny slowly began to drop when I arrived at the venue that evening – The Albert Hall, Nottingham! Parked outside, feeding cables in to the auditorium, where two ginormous television lorries. Sky Sports were covering the game! So not the local leisure center then?

Here’s the evening in words and pictures:

DL8D7736_0060So rule number one; try not to get in shot of the TV cameras and get thrown out. This means finding the people in charge and asking where you can photograph from and where you can’t. The University had a plethora of helpful friendly people that told me how not to get thrown out.

DL8D7794_0117Here is just one of the many friendly Nottingham University staff that make this whole thing possible. Although she’s slacking off here phoning in a Pizza order.

1L0A8755_1581This is the Albert Hall, playing NBL badminton to a full house.

DL8D7752_0076Prior to the match between Nottingham and Loughborough they let a number of children come on court and thrash a shuttlecock back and forth. They had great fun and those crafty organisers built the fan base of the future.

DL8D7773_0098The capacity crowd was ready to go and had been issued with those inflatable tube things you bang together. And this cheeky trio had smuggled in a couple of pink honkers – which they honked at strategic points in the games.

DL8D7788_0112Now, bear in mind that this was my first time shooting badminton and therefore have no idea who anybody is. But this is a recognisable tableau in TV coverage; the main presenter is paying scant attention and looking for his next question on his list, the guy talking is in a world of his own and the guy far right not talking is wishing the other guy would shut up so he can.

DL8D8507_0825The game gets underway and the crowd are loving it. Nottingham seem to be winning (I think). I begin to realise that the ‘best’ pictures are those that don’t have the shuttlecock in frame. In fact the overheads that do have the shuttlecock in view are pretty boring. How odd.

DL8D8589_0904See! Great dynamic body shape and not a shuttlecock in sight – it’s already on the other side of the net!

DL8D8267_0586Seems the only time it works well is when it’s a reaching low to the court kinda shot – then it’s okay.

DL8D8598_0912The game progressed – certain strange things happened that I didn’t understand, like the ‘power play’. I think this is where a player is allowed to serve two shuttle cocks at the same time and one is filled with exploding custard or something like that. Anyway the ‘heart beat’ music played during the power play point was tres atmospheric and really got the crowd involved.

DL8D8631_0945This was not the only time music was used to good effect; when dangerously slippery sweat needed mopping up, the girl perform the task accompanied by the ‘Benny Hill’ chase music….

DL8D8575_0890…. much to the hilarity of the crowd. It was funny. :)

DL8D8650_0962And the pranks didn’t stop there – at the end of his game Kieran Merrilees slipped an electric shock ‘buzzer’ in to his hand before shaking hands with the chair umpire!

DL8D9119_1428An epic night of badminton concluded with Nottingham University running out emphatic winners.

DL8D8452_0768I’d met a lot of wonderful and friendly people…

DL8D7770_0094… managed to dodge the cameras and not get thrown out….

DL8D9196_1505…. but still get right in the thick of it….

DL8D9188_1497… but just missed out on bombing this selfie!

I had a great night and thought the whole evening was fantastic – I’ll be back again if they’ll have me. Thanks Krista! :)

(C) Drew Smith Photography

Hidden Nottingham (crouching fish eye)   1 comment

Saturday morning last weekend was spent wandering and lurking in the hidden back streets and lanes of Nottingham City center.

I discovered places and shops I’d never seen before or even knew existed. Of course this was all an excuse to use my 8mm lens again. i kinda get what it was made for now, but I’m still learning what it likes best for meals. :)

Here are some pics from the day.

Reclaim shop


cobbles and bricks

Grate and window

Magazine shop 01

Stairway 01

Street Carol

Wall Art

Wooden door

Fun with Fish Eyes and Hermi   Leave a comment

Today I became a ‘kid with a new toy’ after the arrival of my Samyang 8mm f3.5 fish-eye lens. Bought primarily for my sports photography.

It took me back to when I got my first ever camera and ran around taking pictures of everything and anything just to see what they’d look like. But I have to admit this lens is a lot of fun. :) Here’s my little excursion in to Bingham, at a silly hour of the day this morning, in words and pictures:

The Bingham Market was setting up at 7:30am this morning, so an ideal opportunity to bug people who had better things to do than be photographed by me. This is the local Pie man selling his wares.

Bingham Market_0045

First thing I learned with this lens was not to get too close (but it’s so tempting and so easy to do) to the subject matter otherwise you lose focus in the foreground.

Bingham Market_0043

This was the Pie man’s (his name was Ian) mode of transport and also his ye olde shoppe.

It was fun trying to work out which compositions worked best…..

Bingham Market_0010

…. this worked less so, for example, than others.

Whereas the key stall seemed to work a little better.

Bingham Market_0052

With basically a 180 degree field of view there is the consistent possibility of the photographer actually getting parts of himself in the shot.

Shooting in RAW! I did photograph the inside of the shop too, so I can crack this terrible photography joke.

Bingham Market fisheye hermi

You’ll notice that the images have ‘Unregistered – do not save’ written all over them. That’s because I’m trialing some ‘distortion’ software called Fisheye-Hermi. Photoshop CS6 has a couple of Filter options but they didn’t seem to work too well on these images.

Bingham Market undistorted

This is the uncorrected version of the RAW shop image straight out of the camera, so you can see the difference. With cropping I think they can look kinda cool distorted like this.

(C) Drew Smith Photography

Speed Skating and a cautionary tale!   Leave a comment

I’m sad to report that I had something of a disaster on Saturday at the British Short Track Championships (3- 4 January) at the Nottingham Ice Stadium.


I set up two cameras – the main camera attached to a 400mm f2.8 and I took over 500 pictures with that. The 2nd camera I used for experimentation and the odd ‘normal’ shot.


After the speed skating, which started earlier that morning, I was due to shoot the Nottingham Panther’s game that evening. In between these two events I went to the lounge bar at the stadium and went through the speed skating pictures.


This involved switching cards out of one of the cameras as I wanted to view them on a bigger screen. I was really excited with some of the shots from the various age classes taken with the 400mm – great compression and isolation of the subject as always..


Unfortunately between that time reviewing the pics and shooting the Panthers game and arriving home late Saturday night I lost the card. Never mind that it was a £100 32GB card – it had over 400 images on it from the 400mm lens set-up. Aaaarghhh!


I was distraught of course! Worse I felt bitterly disappointed that I was unable to get these pics to the British Short Track Championships organisers.


I did of course go back to the ice stadium on the Sunday after turning my house, my car and my cat (we don’t even have a cat) upside down. I checked their lost property, their lounge lost property and even searched the sofa I had sat on in the lounge and the areas I’d been shooting in at the rink. But sadly no luck.


So, let my loss be a lesson to you all – don’t ever give me one of your expensive compact flash cards for safe keeping. :)


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