All photos on these pages Copyright © 2002 Robert A. Walker.
The USFSA Camera Policy (see http://www.usfsa.org/events_results/event_info.htm) allows cameras for personal use only. Therefore these photos may not be used for any commercial purpose, and I will not sell copies of the photos.
Copies of these photos may be made for personal use (desktop wallpaper, etc.), but the photos may not be altered, published or redistributed in any way without my permission. If you want to use any of my photos on your web site, ask me by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org, including the URL of your site in the request.
For personal web sites, permission will generally be given as long as the photos are used in a tasteful
way, and the photo is properly credited and has a link to
my own photos, as follows:
<img src="photo268.jpg" align=bottom>
<font size=-1><i>Copyright © Robert A. Walker</i></font></a>
This code produces something like this:
Copyright © Robert A. Walker
Thanks to Cat's Lair; this personal use policy is based on a similar policy described on their web site at http://www.catslair.com/policies/photos.html.
These photos were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera, using a 2x tele-converter. The Coolpix 990 has a 3x zoom Nikkor lens equivalent to a 38-115mm zoom lens in a film camera, so effectively I was using a 76-230mm zoom lens. I set the camera to ISO 400, the most sensitive setting available, and generally overexposed by 1 f-stop to avoid gray ice..
This was the first time I had used this camera at a skating competition, so it took some time for me to learn the best way to use it. Early in the week, I used Program mode, which turned out to be a mistake, as it would often select a higher-numbered f-stop, resulting in more depth of field but blurry skaters. After a day or so I switched to Aperture mode at f 4.0, which resulted in shutter speeds varying from 1/125 to 1/350. I experimented briefly with Manual mode, f 4.0, and 1/250, but that was generally too dark. If it had been possible, I think I would have set the camera to Manual, f 4.0, and 1/200, but that wasn't an option.
Overall, I was grudgingly satisfied with the results, but I really wanted one or two stops more sensitivity. If the camera had been capable of ISO 800, that would have helped, as I probably could have set the camera to either f 2.8 to blurred the backgrounds a bit more, or left it at f 4.0 to get less blur on the skaters. As it was, I had to be very careful with my panning, and even then I had to toss a lot of blurry photos. I also discovered that on spins, if I first focused on the skaters toes, then moved up to their bodies, I got better results than focusing on the skaters (which often actually focused on the boards behind them).
I took many photos each day, although I deleted many immediately after taking them, and others later that night. Early in the week, I had three 64MB flashcards, each of which would hold about 80 photos in the camera's default mode. Since I couldn't get back to the hotel in the middle of the day to dump the photos onto my laptop, I realized early on that I needed more storage space, so I ordered two 128 MB flashcards to be sent to my hotel by Airborne Express for arrival the next day. Thus for the majority of the week I was using two 128 MB and three 64 MB flashcards (160 and 80 photos each, respectively, giving me storage for over 500 photos each day).
I tried to conserve the camera's monitor as much as possible, particularly during the relatively longer free skates. I would leave it on when the skaters were at my end of the ice, and turn it off when they went to the other end. I had two sets of relatively high-capacity 1550-mah NiMH rechargeable batteries, and those were generally sufficient, but I would have liked to have had a third set. As it was, I bought some alkaline batteries locally, and kept those for the few situations when my two main sets ran out before the end of the night (I did not want to run out of batteries just as the last set of skaters began their free skate at the end of the evening!).
Was it worth using the digital camera? Well, it was worth it in the sense that I took about 3000 photos during the week, not counting those that I deleted immediately after taking. Of those, I kept about 1700 on my laptop, and am posting the best 300. So -- it was worth it in the sense that I would never have taken so many photos otherwise, and I would have hated to have wasted rolls and rolls of film on missing heads, blurry bodies, and all the awkward views one can get in the middle of a spin or jump. However, I really, really, really want the additional sensitivity of ISO 800, but I suppose I'll get that in my next digital camera.
One last note -- the Nikon Coolpix 900 takes 3-megapixel photos (1536x2048), storing them in JPEG files that are about 600KB each. I left some photos untouched, but most I cropped slightly using Epson's Film Factory (a beautifully simple program that I highly recommend), to perhaps 75-80% of their original size. Then I used Film Factory to save the photos separately as 480x640 JPEG images to put on my web page, so that people would be downloading 20KB images instead of 600KB images. The bottom line here is that the photos online are reduced in quality from the originals, so don't think you're seeing 3-megapixel images!
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