Glenn Nagel Photography | Figure Skating

Figure Skating

June 02, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I recently attended the Northern Blast Figure Skating Competition in Woodridge, Illinois. This was the second time that I photographed a figure skating event. I enjoy capturing pictures of figure skating as the sport features amazing athletes, colorful costumes and some great action. It also gives me an excuse to use one of my favorite lenses--the Nikon 200 f2!

During the event, my goal was to capture images that:

  • included the skater's face (hopefully with an expression)
  • caught the skater in an interesting pose or during peak action
  • filled the frame with the subject
  • controlled the background--mostly by simplifying it

I've been impressed with the versatility of my new Nikon D850 camera. It's amazing that the camera can pump out such large files (48 megapixels each) at 9 frames per second. That high frame rate increased my chances of capturing peak action. I was also pleased with the auto-focus capabilities of this camera. I used the 21 point dynamic AF...and nearly every image was in sharp focus.

I set the exposure manually--using a shutter speed of 1/800th of a second, an aperture of f/2 and an ISO setting of 2000. My goal was to produce a file in which the histogram was pushed to the right in order to render the ice white. 1/800th was sufficient to freeze most of the action. However, I could have used a faster shutter speed to freeze the faster spins. Of course, setting the exposure in such poor lighting is a balancing act. Setting a higher shutter speed would have meant increasing the ISO--as the aperture was wide open for every image.

My post processing workflow was fairly basic. Most of the photographs required very little cropping. From there, I added some contrast (by moving the white and black points in Lightroom). I added a bit of vibrancy as well. The noise was manageable and I reduced noise by running every image through Nik Define software using the auto setting. I applied a curve to add contrast to the midtones in Photoshop...and finished by selectively sharpening the skater (using a high pass filter in Photoshop). For a few images, I extended the canvas to give the skater a little more breathing room from the edge of the frame. In some images, I extended the white background to eliminate distracting elements in the background. Most pictures took less than 2 minutes to process.

Here are a few of my favorites from the photo shoot. CLICK HERE to view more images.

Northern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating Competition at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena at 6690 Route 53 in Woodridge, Illinois on May 12, 2018

Northern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating Competition at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena at 6690 Route 53 in Woodridge, Illinois on May 13, 2018

Northern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating Competition at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena at 6690 Route 53 in Woodridge, Illinois on May 12, 2018

Northern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating Competition at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena at 6690 Route 53 in Woodridge, Illinois on May 13, 2018

Northern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating CompetitionNorthern Blast Figure Skating Competition at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena at 6690 Route 53 in Woodridge, Illinois on May 13, 2018


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