David Ashdown's Sports Picture Diary: England Rugby Internationals

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The Independent Online

It's November so it must be the England Rugby Internationals at Twickenham; this was the first, against the Pacific Islands and there are three more matches to look forward to.

The working positions at the ground are as good as it gets, from a photographer's point of view. We can go all round the pitch, and on the east and west sides there are running bibs, so if one has the inclination you can literally run up and down trying to keep up with the play. It's easier that it sounds, I have a running bib, so I am able to move up and down the east side of the pitch. I prefer that side as there are less people to get in the way, it's also the side opposite where the teams come out. It must be an amusing sight; photographers running like demented chickens, trying and often failing to keep up with the play.

The other thing of course is the equipment we have to carry. On Saturday, I was using two Nikon D3 cameras, one with a 500mm F4.0 lens and the other with a 70mm-200mm F2.8 zoom lens. I don't know how heavy that lot is, but it can get quite tiring after a while. Also, sometimes you have to stop dead and go back the other way because the play has changed, and when I do stop to take some pictures I have to crouch down so as to not block the crowd behind. Plus, it rained!

If you're by the pitch there is no protection from it. The roof of the stadium is a long way back from where we are. Also, it's the equipment that has to be protected, not only the cameras but the lenses as well; in fact more so. The cameras are very waterproof, while the high tech lens we use are packed full off electronics. They are not very watertight; I have nice Nikon waterproof covers that do the job very well, but they do make changing from one camera to the other more difficult. This picture of Danny Cipriani scoring his try was taken at 1/800 second with the zoom lens at about 180mm at F2.8. I was slowly walking from one end (no, I don't run all the time) as not much was happening on the pitch, but you have to watch what's going on. Suddenly, the ball is free and England are on a run, and so am I. The best place to be for a try picture is past the try line, so they are facing me, but the way the play was going I was never going to get there before they did, so this picture was taken about fifteen yards from it. I only just managed to stop and have the right camera ready as Capriani went for the try; wonderfully, he jumped for the line. He must have known I was waiting.

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