Shooting Bowl-a-rama with limited gear

Ever set yourself the challenge of shooting with limited gear? how about just one lens or just one light? Well I decided it might be fun to give it a go last weekend and found it's a great exercise that really makes you think about how you are going to shoot your subject. Usually this is the kind of exercise you might try when shooting a portrait - maybe limiting yourself to a fixed prime lens. Maybe I had drunk too much coffee but I thought it would be a good idea to shoot the recent world skateboarding event Bowl-a-rama with a single lens: my Tamron 70-200 f2.8. I must be mad!

If you do a google search for bowlarama or skateboarding in general you will see that 95% of the images are shot with a super wide or a fisheye in close to the action right at the edge of the bowl - NOT shooting with a telephoto lens from the other side of the skatepark!

Despite the obvious problem of not being able to get too close I still enjoyed the chance to shoot with what I had and make it work. Unfortunately the skaters tended to do a lot of the arial tricks at the far end of the bowl, but using a long lens which compresses the view I found I would lose the skater in amongst the crowd of spectators at the far end of the bowl.  I found a couple of spots midway into the bowl the skaters were regularly hitting which provided enough separations between the skater and the background so when shooting at f2.8 I could be sure the background would fall off to a nice blurry bokeh. 

While this was a fun exercise it was pretty tough shooting such a dynamic fast moving sport and I can totally understand why all the other shooters were sat at the far end of the pool with wide angle lenses. It just makes your job easier - there's no need to worry about focussing, its easy to change up the angles and a wide angle means you are more likely to capture all of the skater along with some of the environment. Still I'm pleased with my results and quite impressed with the continuous AF of my D800!