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Friday, August 9, 2019

High Beam

Gymnastics events provides photographers many opportunities to capture spectacular athletic feats.

Yale's Jessica Wang goes high when dismounting from the balance beam vs. University of New Hampshire.

The Photo
The gymnastics meet between Yale and University of New Hampshire (UNH) featured highly talented competitors on the balance beam, vault, floor exercise and parallel bars, but I quickly realized that the balance beam would give me the best pictures.  The gymnasts on the beam did numerous head-over-heels flips as they repeatedly landed perfectly on the beam, and twisted their bodies around while soaring high into the air on their amazing dismounts.  I planned to crouch down low, to make their leaps look even higher and more spectacular in a photo.  My challenge as a photographer would be to simultaneously capture their spectacularly high leaps and faces as they performed their routines.

As the young women performed, they moved rapidly, springing up and over the beam, but often turned their faces away, so I had yet to get a great photo.  The dismounts had great potential, but the athletes were moving in so many different directions at the same time, it was not easy to perfectly time their leaps, twists, and faces to capture the most powerful image. On the next to last balance beam routine, one gymnast looked my way repeatedly, and I shot several strong photos of her upside down and high in the air over the beam.  And when she dismounted, she leaped higher and spun more than anyone else, giving me another powerful photo of her winning routine.

3 Tips
1)    The balance beam event typically provides some of the best gymnastics photos.
2)    Shoot from a low angle to make the gymnasts’ leaps look higher and more spectacular.
3)    You’ll likely need to shoot many, many photos to capture both the gymnasts’ athleticism and faces in one great image.