Back in January I took up archery – it’s something I’ve quietly fancied for a few years (see below) and I finally got round to doing something about it when a leaflet dropped through the door over Christmas.
I’d only tried it a couple of time before – once on a Warner Holidays break on the Isle of Wight back in 1994 (see the first photo in the gallery below) and then at Nudefest in Cornwall in 2013. So yes, a lot of my previous experience at archery was in the buff – and I am duty-bound to point out that I won the competition at Nudefest – I even have a trophy and can therefore claim to be Best Naked Archer in Britain 2013! I do have photos of that too, but well, no.

Chatting with the club organisers at North Bristol Archery, I offered to take some photos for their website, so last week I went along with my bow and my camera.

As it turns out, photographing archery isn’t that easy. For a start, you normally have to be safely behind the people shooting, for very obvious reasons – no-one wants to die taking photos. This limits the range of shots you can get – at best you can try and get alongside them. Fortunately though the sports hall we use has a side door a few metres along the range and I was able to hide behind that and shoot safely from there.

The other issue is the lighting – fluorescent lighting, combined with a particularly unpleasant blue wall doesn’t give great conditions, with white balance needing some care. Fortunately modern cameras mean you can ramp up the ISO a fair way and still get very good results, and also shooting on lenses that go as wide as f2 or f2.8 helps!

I’m pretty pleased with the results, also helped by a 15fps mode on my Fuji X-T20 which enabled me to catch the moment an arrow was released several times. The main problem is with the fluorescent lights – they flicker at about 60 cycles per second, so any shutter speed faster than 1/60 will get uneven lighting, but anything slower than that will be well lit but won’t freeze the action. This becomes very apparent on the movie clips I took and also when I stitched sequences together into GIFs – they show considerable banding from the lights, and I understand it’s pretty much impossible to avoid.

I definitely want to have another go at shooting it – there are a few things I can do better. Watch this space.

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