Watersports – Cotswold Country Park

Yesterday, we made a trip to Cotswold Country Park for our church outing. It was gloomy and dark. And not to mention that it was raining. However, after 2pm in the afternoon, the rain had ceased and we had time to roam around the park. And that was when I noticed that there were people doing water skiing. As I had my Sony A6000 with the Sony FE 70-200mm lens to hand, I decided to try my hand at capturing the water skiiers as they went pass.

I had the camera set to shutter priority 1/500 secs, auto ISO and continuous autofocus with wide autofocus points. And as the water skiiers passed from one side to the other, I did have plenty of opportunity to learn the timing for panning while shooting. I have to say that with practice I did get a bit better with my later attempts.

Here are the best shots I managed to capture of the skiiers using the WMSki cable water skiing system. The images have been cropped in, as the 200mm focal length is just not long enough to get very close to the subject; and since I have 24 megapixels to crop into, it does give plenty of opportunity to frame the subject properly.

Water skiier
Water skiier
Water skiier going to the ramp
Water skiier going up the ramp
Water skiier jumping up
Water skiier jumping up
Water skiier jumping up and flipping
Water skiier jumping up and flipping
Water skiier upside down
Water skiier upside down
100% crop
100% crop
Water skiier landing
Water skiier landing
Water skiier gliding along
Water skiier gliding along (stand-up paddle boarding in the background)
100% crop
100% crop
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier landing
Water skiier landing
Water skiier jumping
Water skiier jumping

What did I learn?

  1. It is not easy gauging the right speed to pan while shooting, particularly as the electronic viewfinder will go dark between shots in hi-speed shooting mode. Hence I regretted not buying the Olympus EE-1 red dot finder to make the panning process easier.
  2. My lack of smoothness in panning, the lack of reach of the 70-200mm lens (with the subject being very small and hence with very few focus points lighting up on it), all made my hit rate much lower than it could be.
  3. But when the focus is spot on, the skiier appears very sharp in the photos indeed. Just shows the great potential of the Sony A6000 continuous autofocus.
  4. Sony do need to come up with a longer telephoto/zoom lens in native FE mount, perhaps a 70-400mm, 120-300mm, 150-500mm or 200-400mm – any of these will do, just make them sharpish at the long end. (Sony are you listening?)

Now there were other water activities to do at Cotswold Country Park – stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, water zorbing (walking ball) and paddle boats for hire. So there are many different activities available to keep a family entertained. Interestingly, no one seems to be able to stand up in the water walking ball – so they appear more like hamsters in a hamster ball.

Water walking ball
Water zorbing (walking ball)
Mother and son in water walking ball
Mother and son in water walking ball
Row boats
Row boat in the middle of the lake

I was very pleased to have brought my Sony A6000 and the Sony FE 70-200/4 lens (a combination I did not have the last time we visited this place), as it gave me the opportunity to shoot some water sports with continuous autofocus. Now one opportunity I missed was when a flock of geese flew past overhead and I had my camera in my bag – I would have loved to shoot them flying past using continuous autofocus. But at least I managed to capture plenty of images of the water skiiers in action.

Boon