David Ashdown's sports picture diary: Pro40

Is cricket about light or is light about cricket? They don't play if there is not enough of it, but when it comes to the floodlit version different rules apply.

Sussex were hosting a Pro40 match with Middlesex on Thursday starting at 16.30. Hove is very haphazard; it has been built with not many stands, so a lot of the surrounding flats almost look like they are part of the ground.

I went to the game not because it was a cricket match, but because as it got dark and floodlights were going to be used the sky would become interesting. As the sun sets and starts to slip below the horizon some of its colour can spread across the clouds. It only lasts a short time, and often doesn't happen at all; in this image it isn't the best I've seen, but it's not bad bearing in mind the rotten summer we've had.

As the sky darkens, the floodlights become more pronounced. The absolute right time to take the picture is when the light in the sky matches the light on the pitch, as it almost does here. In terms of darkness, the sky would have been better a few minutes later, but then there would have been no red.

This pictures involves three light sources: The sky, the floodlights and a flashgun which was used to illuminate the members of the public in the foreground. The trick is to balance them all and then beautify it in Photoshop. The technology Nikon have achieved with their SB900 speedlight (flashgun) is amazing. The power output can be varied so it can be used in any situation. If I had not used it in this picture, the area where the people are would have been almost completely black. Another advantage of the flash is that it picks out little domestic details that would go unseen like the thermos flask, always useful on a warm summer evening!

This picture illustrates that though this was a sporting event, the cricket takes second stage to the light. Timing is everything; the challenge is not capturing the action on the pitch, but mixing the three light sources. If the timing is right on the night, photography is the winner.

Picture taken on a Nikon D3 with a 14mm lens at 1/100second at F4.0

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