Decade at the oche

It will have been a decade at the oche for me traveling to Alexandra Palace otherwise known as ‘Ally Pally’ over the festive period in December though to the new year. For the PDC World Darts Championships that take place, where a field of 72 players from 24 countries this year will battle it out to be crowned World Darts Champion.

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While working as a staff photographer for Action Images I somehow ended up with the roll to cover the tournament in its entirety. Which I assume from my fellow colleagues were ‘very very’ happy about! Where previous tournaments at Ally Pally and previously at Circus Tavern would have been spread out with different photographer coming in for few days at time.

Having never watched or had any interesting in the sport other than previously watching ‘Bullseye’ TV show in the either the late 80s early 90s on ITV as a kid. I didn’t know who any of the big players were, how the scoring worked with legs, sets or when “Bully’s Star Prize would come out!

From the period of 2008 – 2014 I cover the tournament in its entirety from every round and every throw of the dart be it majority sat in the press room eating chocolate biscuit or surfing the web ‘I mean editing my pictures to send out of course’ for Action Images. From 2015 to the present now as a freelancer I only cover about half the tournament spread over several days for the Press Association and previous for Backpage Images and also covered a day for PDC as there official photographer Laurence Lustig was unable to cover that day in 2016. I guess after covering 7 tournament I do deserve to get to some daylight in November or the lack of it before 4pm sunset is for a couple of days. Cover other sporting events such as the busy Christmas football fixtures list.

Looking back though my extensive archive of 8,000 images for this post from when I starting shooting darts in 2008 up the present. I’ve see not only my own person development in coverage, where I focused on the action in the early years before expanding my content to include more of the sporting personalities in attendance watching. From footballers, boxers, snooker players, actors and the odd royal to two. Heading into the fans village and showing the venue full of fans and of course the Ally Pally as building in all kinds on weather conditions.

Not forgetting the most important aspect of the tournament being the 3,500 people inside and there involvement with fans dressing up in fancy dress from the basis outfit all the up to full on costume themes. The songs about players the crowds sing for different matches to the banter between those who sit at the tables and those in the terrace sitting. Lastly the oche girls that escort the players to the oche during the walk on before each of the matches. More recently while working for the Press Association, William Hill is a client and therefore needs to be photographed as part of the brief we provide, I just can’t quite find the reason for my extensive coverage for the previous 7 years while working for Action Images other then for myself!

With all sporting events it’s also the TV broadcaster and the increase in viewership that as also risen and expanded over the years from Sky Sport coverage even creating it’s own channel to broadcast the event. For a sport that’s ‘field of play’ is only about 8ft long from player to dartboard and standing still, Sky Sport does have every possible camera position covered. From mounted camera overhead looking down, behind the players focus of the board, side on, looking back towards the players, swinging boom arms and roaming cameras in the crowds. For a short time SKY Sport also used 3D cameras which must have been great the TV viewer but not so great for us photographers with less space to work around. Considering we only have about 3 different official position to work from. To finally the prize money ever increasingly becoming larger and the internationally press coverage that follows with it.

This brings us up the present and this years tournament still continues to bring surprises with previous winners and finalist going out in the early rounds. Jamie Lewis who came from the qualifiers into the preliminary round all the way the semi final. From the current world dart champion Michael van Gerwen taking his semi final match all the way to end at 5-5 in sets and to 5-5 in legs to the sudden death leg to lose to Rob Cross that finished just after midnight. Who in his debut year in the PDC went on to defeat Phil Taylor ‘who would be retiring after this tournament after a 30 year career, 16 world titles to his name as well countless other titles wins’ in the final 7-2 to win his 1st title.

William Hill World Darts Championship - Day Fifteen - Alexandra Palace

So this wraps up a decade of my professional sport photography career at the oche for me and my testimonial, perhaps the powers that be at the PDC for next years tournament I may get wide card entry to complete. If it could happen to Rob Cross on his debut year at this years World Darts Championship. It could quite possible be me in 2019! If not the case here’s to another decade at the Oche at Ally Pally, I would not have it any other way.

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Decade at the oche

Summer is coming 

It’s been far to long since I last wrote a blog post and things have slightly changed, I’m now a freelance based photographer working for the Press Association, Backpage Images as well as a few other clients.

Now this brings me back to the title of the this post and no I’m trying to get the Game of Thones web hits that be when I write a post about ‘Winter in Coming’ in a few month time. Normal when summer comes round I been covering Athletics, Cricket and possible some golf and of course the odd bit of tennis.  Some summers I may cover just one of the events in Birmingham, eastbourne, or an invitationals events that all lead up to wimbledon.

This year would be different over the course of 4 weeks I was going to be fully engrossed in tennis and be covering Queens, Eastbourne and Wimbledon for the Press Association. Firstly it was off to The Queen’s Club for the week in central london for men’s event, having not covered this event before I was looking forward to it as it tends to have some of the top players playing. All the singles matches play on centre court which has some descent backgrounds to work with including large stands to shoot from down so I can mix up the images during the week. Also a side note I’ve heard you do get treated very well from the organisers with meals a refreshments during the day, very helpful after long days working or waiting for the rain to stop!

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Now being the british summer it started with ‘rain’ delaying the start off play and the fun of shooting your weather picture such as fan under umbrellas, covers over the courts GV’s and anything else you can think off. On that 1st day there was only 1 game played and completed of course already delaying the tournament, thing didn’t start off any better with day two and further rain stopping play though out the day. At Queens a player who tends to be associated with the event is Britain’s Andy Murray and with him playing, there always the need to cover his practices session as this year he is back with his old coach Ivan Lendl. Who he was with when he won Wimbledon back in 2013 a good omen in a few weeks later.

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As Andy Murray progressed each round it does begin to fill like groundhog day shooting the same practices sessions but it has to be covered incase he pick up an injury and pull out so close to this year Wimbledon. Thought out theses events I do enjoy getting away from the court be it in-between games or during breaks in play and finding images of fans watching or waiting to get in. As well as the officials or ball girls/boys waiting waiting for their rotation to get onto court. Another aspect is of course looking to see if there are any celebrity or players family members in the crowd this year being David Beckham and Jeremy Clarkson who I found, I know there may have been some that missed but can’t get it all.

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With Andy Murray progressing throughout the rounds one of the position to sit mostly was right next to where his team sat and every time he celebrated he would look over towards them. Meaning I have a decent chance of getting a set of reactions, alway helps add to set of images sending out. Finally to the final and it was Andy Murray v Milos Raonic it was quite a good final both players taking to each other.  Raonic taking the 1st set to a tie break and winning then Murray taking the 2nd to level it going into the finally 3rd set and going from strength to strength taking the 3rd to win and que camera firing for celebration pictures followed by the trophy picture for his 5th Queen titles.

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This now leads me to head down the south coast and to Eastbourne where I’ve covered this event a few time over the years for Action Images. It’s event I do like going to as it has nice large centre court to work from and depending on the weather gorgeous evening light to play with also a little more chilled out.  Like Queens most of the main matches are played on either centre or no.1 court easier to cover all the players. When I arrived on Monday the rain seemed to have followed me and we were again held to long rain delays and back shooting weather pictures. Due to other jobs booked in already for PA I would missed Tuesday play and the final on Saturday but that still gave me 3 more days to cover the event and thought out that time I cover Great Britain’s Johanna Konta reaching to the semi final. All good with british interest leading upto Wimbledon and off course always looking out for interesting image on and off the court. During a press conference earlier in the week the LTA announced that the tournament with continual for at least another 10 years, see redevelopment of the grounds. I just hope they have thought about including building a roof over the whole site when it no dought be raining once again during the British summer!

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After two weeks of tennis it time for the main event and heading to Wimbledon home of british tennis, now I’ve seen the images and heard the stories from other photographers but I’ve never covered it. So when I was asked to covered this some months earlier it was something I was looking forward to. Yes it’s incredibly long days if your on centre court or No.1 all day or bouncing from one match to another on the outside courts with all the people crammed together squeezing though with all your kit. It’s well worth it as you get clean backgrounds, all players have to wear white and photography wise your treated incredibly well in where you can shoot from. That’s all down to excellent work of photographer Bob Martin and Russell Cheyne who runs the photography side for the photographers.

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For Wimbledon I would be working with PA photographers Adam Davy, John Walton, Anthony Devlin, Philip Toscano-Heighton plus Scott Wilson and Adam Peck who be editing for us though out the two weeks. As they have covered this event for many years I knew I be in safe hands if I had and question where the best position to shoot from or the easiest way to get from one court to another. As with a event as this scale all 5 of us be sending off back of the camera using the media wifi that cover the whole site or eithernet cable on the main show courts.  As I was the newbie the first few days were out covering the outside courts and learning how to get around the tight walkway in-between courts with fans watching while carry my gear. This sorted me perfectly as I could covered the matches I was assigned and find images away from the action.

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Now as with your typical british summer ‘you can see theme developing’ the rains returned and unlike the previous two week where play stops, Wimbledon has a Roof on centre court and one of these days I was assigned to cover all action on court. 8 hours later I managed to finally leave my seat from centre court and seeing some excellent tennis from both the Men’s and Women’s draw. One of these matches was the British wild card Marcus Willis with a ranking of 772 facing Roger Federer one of the greatest players of the modern era. Even thou you knew he had no chance of winning he did fire up the crowd and made it a entertaining match to cover and watch.

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Throughout this year event I produced a series of images from different location around Wimbledon of the thousands of fans who que up in the early mornings and are escorted in by the stewards when the grounds open. For the past few months I’ve been playing around with a 10 stop filter shooting along the River Thames and on the South Coast turning the water into smooth & motionless texture. Once getting permission from Russell Cheyne each morning I set out with my tripod and waited for the fans to walk past resulting in a set of images that turned them into river of fans. Overall very happy with how they turned out as it quite hard to create images that know one else has seen or not been done in recent memory from an event like Wimbldon.

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With the business end coming to a closed I was assigned each of Andy Murray and Milos Raonic semi finals which were great matches to watch and shoot after shooting them a few weeks earlier at Queen’s, it could have been an interesting final. The followed day it’s time for the women’s final who I shot with John Walton who was covering from court side and myself self from platform B. Unfortunately Serena Williams made light work of the final and won the game in two short sets but when she won it made a nice frame when she was congratulated by her opponent from my spot and when she left centre court with the trophy.

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With Men’s final with Andy Murray I was assigned to cover a few of the other finals happening on the outside courts and cover ‘Murray Mound’, as well as get into position for the balcony trophy lift. With camera all set luckily Andy Murray killed the game off in 3 straight set to win his 2nd Wimbledon title and show the trophy to the thousand of fans waiting below.

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Finally to wrap up my month of covering tennis was to a photo-call with Andy Murray Monday morning on centre court with a few other photographers. Bob Martin discussed what kind of image we would like and when the threat of possible rain and closing of the roof held off we all got what we all needed. As I end this post this I  won’t be seeing anymore tennis ball until next summer. Hopefully including  next year Wimbledon but if just need that last hit, check out this video found by John Walton link here.

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Gallery

Mud, Wind, Rain and Cars

Photographer Steven Paston braved the wilds of Wales for the Rally of Great Britain.

“I found myself deep in the Welsh forest, with no phone signal or sat nav, just me and the countryside for company. That and the sound of rally cars’ engines roaring past at speeds of around 100 mph, just metres from where I stood. I was back at the Rally of Great Britain.”

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Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila of Finland during Dyfi Stage. Photo Steven Paston
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Martin Prokop and Jan Tomanek of Czech Republic during Dyfi Stage. Photo Steven Paston

“Some of my colleagues would say I’m in the wrong profession, and should be a rally driver – not  due to my skills behind the wheel but for lack of them!  Standing so close to the cars as the drivers go full throttle, positioning their car to make tight corners, is amazing to watch especially when it’s wet and slippery as it was that weekend.”

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Sebastien Ogier (R) and Julien Ingrassia of France Volkswagen Motorsport celebrate winning the Rally of Great Britain and the FIA World Rally Championship. Photo Steven Paston
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Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia of France Volkswagen Motorsport celebrate with the trophy after winning the FIA World Rally Championship. Photo Steven Paston

“This was the third year I’ve covered the event for Action Images, and even now I’m still getting my head around it. It consists of four days travelling around the northern part of Wales. Covering individual stages is I guess similar to covering the Tour de France in cycling, where you have to pick a location and wait for the riders to come past. The media get privileged parking access, so in theory we can park up, walk a few hundred metres to part of the stage, shoot the drivers as they come past, and then jump in the car to get to the next stage. In reality this is often not possible. When we receive our accreditation we are also given a guide to all the stages, how to get there, where the so-called best photo opportunities are, and other useful info.”

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Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia of France during the Clocaenog Main stage. Photo Steven Paston

 

“There are several stages taking place each day and each stage is driven twice, so if I plan it I can cover one stage in the early morning, then jump in the car, drive back to main road, if possible send a few images once I can pick up 3G or 4G signal, and then drive on to the next stage in time for the afternoon session. The best way to get decent coverage is all in the planning, I try to work out which stage is going to provide the best results, then chose another stage for the second run in order to get a different shot in the afternoon.”

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A general view shot using a slow shutter speed, during the Alwen stage. Photo Steven Paston

“As you can imagine, Wales in November is wet and cold, and for one of the stages I was standing on a bank about a metre or so from where the drivers go past. Norwegian driver Andreas Mikkelsen came through and clipped the corner, throwing up a load of mud, dirt and small stones straight into me, covering half my body and face as well as my cameras with it. I did raise a few laughs from some fellow photographers who were standing next to me, and a dozen fans nearby, but hey this is rallying! You know at some point you are going to get dirty, some people would pay money to be covered in mud at a spa treatment!”

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Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene of Norway during Dyfi Stage. Photo Steven Paston

“Unlike some other motorsports events, fans can walk onto the course, especially in remote areas where the lack of stewards means they can get really close to the action. The thing that impresses me most about the fans is their dedication to watching and supporting the sport. They wake up around 5am to drive an hour and a half or more to their chosen stage, walk a few miles to find a good spot, sit in the cold and wet just to see their favorite drivers pass in a blink on an eye. Then they will sit and wait patiently for several hours in the same conditions before the second run in the afternoon.”

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A general view of spectators walking though the Alwen stage. Photo Steven Paston
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General view of spectators watching during Dyfi Stage. Photo Steven Paston
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General view of spectators watching at Dyfnant stage. Photo Steven Paston

“I tried to vary my coverage this year, with a set of tight full frame shots of the main RC1 cars, wider landscape views to illustrate the Welsh countryside, plus a bit of slow shutter speed panning and some general views of the spectators. Myself and two other photographers walked for over 90 minutes to find a particular photo spot, but on arrival decided to climb up a 45 degree incline where we found an even better position that showed the rolling hills, late afternoon sunshine, and when the top drivers came past, we had a helicopter buzzing just 20 to 30 metres away. This made a really nice shot and it was worth all of the effort that went into it.”

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Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium during Dyfi Stage. Photo Steven Paston

“Rallying, unlike motorsports on a fixed circuit, means you only get one chance to capture the shot, and there is a chance that you are at the wrong stage and miss ‘the’ editorial picture of that day.”

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Former England Cricketer Graeme Swann after completing Clocaenog Main stage. Photo Steven Paston

“There is now a growing trend for celebrity drivers at the rally, last year former Olympic skeleton gold medallist Amy Williams took part, this year we had glamour model and wife of Mark Cavendish Peta Todd, along with former England cricketer Graeme Swann. Maybe next year I should enter one of the lower categories and take part, I’m just not sure anybody would be crazy enough to be my co-driver!”

Mud, Wind, Rain and Cars

Fog Days

Photographer Steven Paston regales us with tales from his latest overseas trip.

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General view if Celtic goal keeps going out to warm up as the stadium is covered in fog. Photo Steven Paston

“My latest European adventure saw me travel to Romania, this time to cover FC Astra v Celtic in the Europa League. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I really enjoy visiting places that I would not normal travel to. However, this trip began with a 4am wake-up call, and a very cold drive to Gatwick airport!”

Here is link to a short video I made of my trip with my GoPro camera Bucharest 24hrs

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Celtic Manager Ronny Deila looks at the pitch as the stadium is covered in fog. Photo Steven Paston

“There are some advantages to taking early flights though, including a lack of traffic on the drive to the airport, and much shorter security queues waiting for hand luggage to be x-rayed. Every now and again on these trips my bags are selected for a secondary inspection, usually because they contain a 1DX, 400mm, laptop and a whole host of cables, hard drives, portable USB, and camera batteries! The main reason for this is that I don’t fully trust any airline not to lose my hold baggage en route…”

“On this trip I flew into Bucharest and collected my hire car as the game was taking place around 60 miles away to in Giurgiu, close to the border with Bulgaria. Luckily for me I was given a new mark 7 Volkswagen Golf to drive, which is exactly the same as the car I drive back home, so I didn’t have a repeat of an issue I have a few years ago, when I ended up calling a colleague back home to find out how to put the car into  reverse!”

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Referee Serhiy Boiko (far R) and is assistance looks at the weather condition before the game. Photo Steven Paston

“Finally after getting though Bucharest’s version of rush hour traffic I had a simple drive down south. On arrival at the stadium in Giurgiu the weather had closed in, there was a thick cloud of fog covering the entire pitch. Having collected my accreditation I headed down to pitch side to capture a few early pictures, just on the off chance that the match was postponed. You couldn’t see from one end of the pitch to the other, but the referee was happy and the game went ahead. In conditions like these you already know that the chances of shooting great action photos are fairly remote, however I tried to make the most of the opportunity to shoot something a little bit different.”

FC Astra v Celtic - UEFA Europa League Group Stage Matchday Four Group D
Football – FC Astra v Celtic – UEFA Europa League Group Stage Matchday Four Group D – Stadionul Marin Anastasovici, Giurgiu, Romania – 6/11/14 Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths has a shot at goal Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“With the stadium wi-fi quite patchy, I resorted to using 3G on my dongle, and fortunately this enabled me to send directly from the back of the camera for Celtic’s goal, and for the disallowed goal that followed. Throughout the match Celtic’s travelling supporters provided a great backdrop with singing, chanting and even climbing up the wire fences.”

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Travelling Celtic fans before the game. Photo Steven Paston

“With the match ending 1-1, it was time to pack up and drive back to my hotel in Bucharest, and it seemed as though the weather was following me. The whole return journey was made in thick fog, and I could only see about a car length in front of me at any given time. There were varying levels of street lighting, large pot holes and bends that came out of nowhere, but I managed to get back in one piece, including the car which may surprise some of my colleagues!”

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A general view of a fan before the game. Photo Steven Paston

“My next trip takes me to Germany for Vfl Wolfsburg v Everton, so I will need to watch my speed on the Autobahn!”

Fog Days

A Partizan Welcome

Photographer Steven Paston took a midweek trip to Serbia for some Thursday night Europa League action.

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Riot police after the math. Photo Steven Paston

“It’s Europa League week and I’ve been assigned to cover FK Partizan v Tottenham Hotspur, which is taking place in Belgrade, Serbia. One of the joys of my job is that I get to travel to a lot of places that I wouldn’t normally visit. Last year I had a number of trips including Moscow (twice within 5 weeks!), allowing me to explore the Moscow metro system which has always fascinated me with its unique architectural design.”

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A general view of the Metro in Moscow. Photo: Steven Paston

“I also travelled to cover FC Sheriff in Tiraspol, Transnistria, which is a self-proclaimed independent state that is not recognized by any UN member state (except for Russia), and has a tricky relationship with its neighboring countries of Moldova and Ukraine. Finally I visited Tromso in Norway, which sits inside the Arctic Circle. During the winter months the daytime is extremely short, and when I arrived around midday, the sun had already set for the day! Both of the last two games were to cover Tottenham Hotspur in Europa League fixtures.”

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General view of Alfheim Stadion, Tromso, Norway. Photo steven paston

“One of the things that particularly appeals to me in these far-flung locations compared to the more travelled cities in Central Europe is the real sense of adventure. I enjoy the challenge of working out how to get about from the airport to the hotel, finding my way to the stadium and then figuring out how to even get inside when faced with a substantial language barrier.”

“To get to Belgrade required two flights, and by the time I arrived it was it was midnight. In the past I have been ripped off heavily in taxi fares travelling to and from the airport, Moscow in particular springs to mind. However on this trip it was fine, I chose to use the official taxi agents and thankfully got to my hotel for a reasonable price for a change. This kind of thing always helps to put me at ease when visiting a new place for the first time.”

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General view of Tottenham Hotspurs during training in Belgade. Photo Steven Paston

“As Tottenham Hotspur is one of our contract clubs, part of the package we provide on these trips is the press conference and training session the day before the match. One good thing about that from a personal perspective is that all it takes place in the evening, giving me a chance to explore the city during the day, and on match day I have almost another full day for more sight-seeing. On some other recent trips I have checked into my hotel, headed straight to the stadium to shoot the match, and then flown back to the UK in the early hours of the morning.”

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Tottenham Hotspurs manager Mauricio Pochettino talks during the press conference. Photo Steven paston

 

“Another bonus of covering the pre match build up is that I have already collected my accreditation from the press officer at the training session, so on match day I know exactly where I’m going. On other trips I have found it challenging trying to explain to foreign stewards that I need to collect my accreditation when neither of us speaks the same language!”

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General view of Tottenham Hotspurs players warming up. Photo Steven Paston

“Having set up pitch side, amongst the things I like to prepare is a team sheet, and to make sure that I can connect to the internet, either using the stadium wifi or my own mifi. In this case neither was working, and I was under pressure to deliver images for the club, as well as for the live feed. It’s a double edged sword going to these far-flung locations, that a lack of signal can stop you in your tracks, in spite of ever-advancing technology. I have the ability to send directly from the back of my cameras using a wifi transmitter without even opening my laptop, or at stadiums such as Wembley I can plug my Canon 1DX into an ethernet cable and file images back to the office even quicker.”

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Tottenham Hotspurs Harry Kane in action. Photo Steven Paston

“For this game my mifi was only finding 2G signal, very occasionally 3G. Back in the UK I regularly use 4G, so I called the office to let them know that I was having issues sending but I managed to get a small selection out during the first half.  At half time I managed to connect to the stadium wifi which enabled me to catch up a bit so going into the second half I was up to date. It’s a shame that during the course of the whole game there was not much action to send at all, a disappointment not just for me, but also for the 150-odd fans that had travelled over to support the team.”

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The travelling contingent of Tottenham Hotspurs fans. Photo Steven Paston
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General view of Partizan Belgrade ulras beneath the score broad. Photo Steven Paston

“In the UK, most football clubs don’t have a section of fans that we would openly call “ultras”, but on mainland Europe it is much more common. Partizan’s ultras occupy an entire stand behind one of the goals, singing, shouting, waving huge banners, not to mention the loud bang of firecrackers exploding just behind the photography position all throughout the game! On a side note the local photographers work slightly differently, casually smoking cigarettes at pitch side during the game whilst working.”

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Tottenham Hotspurs Andros Townsend and Partiza Vladimir Volkov in action. Photo Steven Paston

“Serbia has a reputation as a country that is not very open to varied ethnicity, with several England U21 players being racially abused in Serbia a couple of years ago, including Tottenham’s Danny Rose, who didn’t travel for this match. The Partizan ultras displayed a banner which was seemingly directed at the Tottenham fans, which the club reported to UEFA following the match.”

 

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Partizan Belgrade fans display a controversial banner. Photo Steven paston

“Overall it’s been a good couple of days, cheap taxi prices, good food, nice weather and an interesting city to explore. As part of my sight-seeing I captured the results of the bombing by NATO in 1999, such as the Ministry of Defense building, which for the past 15 years has been left as testament to the city’s recent history.”

Ministry of defense building in Belgrade damaged during the 1999 NATO
Ministry of defense building in Belgrade damaged during the 1999 NATO. Photo Steven Paston

“Now all I need to do is keep my passport safe, as I’m sure to be jetting off somewhere in couple of weeks’ time!”

A Partizan Welcome

Rough Diamond

Photographer Steven Paston made a lengthy trip to Glasgow to cover Diamond League athletics.

“Time to drop the pole and pick up the camera; summer can officially start, it’s the athletics season! I’ve been involved in athletics since the age of 11 and, without making myself feel too old, I’ve competed for my local athletics club – Herne Hill Harriers in Tooting Bec – for 22 years now.”

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General view of runners casting a shadow on the track during the Mens 5000 meters. Photo steven paston

 

“In all that time I’ve tried almost every single event, but people are always surprised when I tell them that the event I specialise in is the pole vault, considering the technical and gymnastic nature of the event, oh, and the fact that I tower at a height of just 5ft 4in.”

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Poland Pawel Wojciechowski in action during Mens Pole Vault. Photo steven paston

“I have covered all of the major athletics events in the UK, both indoor and outdoor, over the past 6 or 7 years. One of my personal highlights was back in 2005 at Crystal Palace, when I photographed Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva as she broke her own world record and became the first woman to clear the five metre mark. On that night the former men’s world record holder, Sergey Bubka, was in the crowd and afterwards he made the cheque presentation to Isinbayeva, a scenario he was familiar with from his career when he broke the world record again and again.”

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Athletics – Norwich Union London Grand Prix – Crystal Palace – London – 22/7/05 Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia making a new world record to become the first woman to break the 5 metre mark Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston

 

“This year one of the Diamond League events was in Glasgow, so living in South London I was faced with a 415 mile / 7 hour drive to Scotland. As part of Action Images’ coverage I shoot the press conferences and photo opportunities in the days leading up to the events. These are generally a mixture of staged shots set up by the organisers, and chances to take individual athletes aside to shoot one on one portraits.”

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Athletics – Sainsburyís Indoor Grand Prix Preview – Crowne Plaza Hotel, Holliday St, Birmingham – 14/2/14 Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce of Jamaica poses ahead of the Sainsburyís Indoor Grand Prix Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

 

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Scotland Eilidh Child pose after the press conference steven paston keep

 

“With my colleague Pete Cziborra driving up to Glasgow the day before the event, there would be two of us covering the Friday night and Saturday afternoon sessions, with Pete shooting head on and myself infield. This was my first chance to see Hampden Park before the Commonwealth Games, so it was important for me to work out logistics, such as the security measures entering the stadium, how far the photographer’s room is, what the head on position will look like and where general view can be taken during the Games.”

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General view of the Mens 5000 meters at Hampden Park. Photo steven paston

“Diamond League events usually attract a host of big name athletes, and Glasgow was no different, with a line up including Yohan Blake, David Rudisha, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, David Weir, Blanka Vlasic, and more. When the field is this competitive you know you will get a high level of performances.”

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Great Britain’s David Weir in action during the Mens T53-54 1500 meters steven paston keep

 

“Shooting from the infield position requires a certain level of time keeping, and a general awareness of what is happening around you. There are times where I need to shoot one round of a field event, then run to the other side of the infield to cover another field event, all the while keeping an eye on which track events are taking place at the same time, before heading back to the first field event.”

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Great Britain Jonathan Peacock and USA Richard Browne in action during the men T34 100 meters steven paston keep

 

“It is well worth it in the end as you able to be a little more creative with the images that you shoot, whereas the head-on track images tend to be typical editorial winners and losers crossing the line, but on the flip side these get wider coverage in the newspapers.”

CRO Blanka Vlasic in action during the Women High Jumpsteven paston keep
CRO Blanka Vlasic in action during the Women High Jump steven paston keep

 

“One of the main stories of the meeting was Jamaica’s Yohan Blake racing in the men’s 100 metres, the final race on Friday, alongside a few British athletes. The focus was always set to be on Blake who, on paper, should win comfortably. However, at around 50 metres into the race, Blake pulled up with a hamstring injury so I continued to focus on him for his reaction, ignoring the finishers crossing the line. I didn’t have a clue who had won, but I knew the news story would be Blake’s injury, especially with the Commonwealth Games just a over a week away.”

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Jamaica’s Yohan Blake falls during the men’s 100 metres. Photo: Pete Cziborra

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Jamaica Yohan Blake lays injured during the Mens 100 meters final steven paston keep

 

“So with the Diamond League ticked off, I head back down to London, with the Anniversary Games at Horse Guards Parade in my schedule, a completely different kind of event, with just a handful of events on show. After that it’s another long drive back to Glasgow for the Games, and if I can’t compete in the pole vault myself, I will do the next best thing and stand right next to them with my camera in hand instead.”

 

 

Rough Diamond

Sir Lanka at the home of cricket

Photographer Steven Paston provides some insight into covering a cricket test match.

“I have just spent the past week virtually camped out at Lord’s for England’s First Test against Sri Lanka. Cricket is not one of my favourite sports to cover, as I don’t completely understand of all the rules and tactics involved. However Lord’s is one of the nicer venues to shoot at so I am happy to go along and try to shoot a nice set of pictures.”

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Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 12/6/14 General view of a spectator during play Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston  EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“The first two days involve ‘nets’ session with both squads, these can be quite dull as the sessions last around three hours for each team, and consists of the warm up, throwing and catching drills, and a batting session in the nets. Trying to shoot good pictures can be difficult especially when the players go into the nets, as you can’t see their faces clearly and they tend to be some distance away, requiring you to shoot on a long lens. There is also the issue of keeping the images fresh, and saving something for the second day so that you don’t end up with an identical set of pictures two days running.”

 

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 13/6/14 England’s Matt Prior looks dejected as he is caught by Sri Lanka’s Kaushal Silva (C) off the bowling of Shaminda Eranga Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“One of the positives of shooting nets is that I know I will be back here for the next week so I bring most of my photography equipment with me on the first day, and store it in a locker in the media centre. This means I don’t have to carry my tripod, 600mm lens, seat, and the rest of my gear every day on the rush hour tube. All I need is my laptop and a small bag. This must be what it feels like to be a journalist!”

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 16/6/14 General view of spectators during play Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“On day one of the Test match itself, and an early start with ‘roll call’ at 9.30am to decide where we would like to sit. I chose to shoot towards the pavilion end, but I soon began to regret my choice due to the weather. It was one of the hottest days of the year and I got sunburnt quite badly on my knees and arms, much to the amusement of some fellow photographers who gave me a bit of stick about spending too much time shooting indoor sports like darts and snooker! I was rewarded at the end of the day as England’s Joe Root celebrated making his century by running towards our end, and I was doubly pleased as I had a remote camera positioned up high which captured a nice clean image too.”

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 12/6/14 England’s Joe Root celebrates reaching his century Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
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Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 12/6/14 England’s Joe Root celebrates reaching his century Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“After learning my lesson in the sun, I chose to sit at the opposite end the next day. This also turned out to be good choice as Joe Root went on to make a double century and this time he celebrated back towards the dressing room. This picture was published at full page in The Sun newspaper the following day.”

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 13/6/14 England’s Joe Root celebrates making his double century Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“On the third day I went for a position on the other side of the pavilion, beneath the Sri Lanka dressing room. This proved to be another good choice as Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara made his first ever century at Lord’s. For a player of that quality it made a nice moment as he celebrated with his teammate Mahela Jayawardene straight towards me.”

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 14/6/14 Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara celebrates his century with Mahela Jayawardene Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“Don’t ask me how but the first Test seemed to be all about century celebrations. On the fourth day I captured Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews at my end, and then a couple of hours later England’s Gary Ballance reached his maiden century in just his second Test for England. This made for a great picture, and again I had a remote camera positioned high up in the stands providing a wide angle showing the crowd cheering him on.”

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 15/6/14 England’s Gary Ballance celebrates making his maiden century in Test match Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – Lord’s – 15/6/14 England’s Gary Ballance celebrates making his maiden century in Test match Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“One thing I particularly like about Lord’s as a venue is the some of the off pitch elements which make nice pictures. I always look out for interesting shots of the architecture of the stadium, the MCC members in their regulation red and gold blazers, and any celebrities watching in the stands. On day four former England batsman Kevin Pietersen sat in a box alongside journalist Pier Morgan, and considering how KP was dropped from the England team after the last Ashes series, there was a good chance that this would get picked up by the newspapers the following day.”

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Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 13/6/14 General view of MCC Members before the start of play Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“At the start of the Test it was blue skies, boiling hot and the stadium was packed. By the fifth day it was cold, overcast, windy and half empty. Not what you expect (or hope for) in June but this is the UK summer after all!”

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – Lord’s – 16/6/14 England’s Chris Jordan celebrates after bowling out Sri Lanka’s Prasanna Jayawardene (not pictured) lbw Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“After five days, and with Sri Lanka batting, it looked like the tourists were set to claim a draw but England had other ideas. With excellent bowling from James Anderson, Chris Jordan and Stuart Broad it looked like there could be an England win on the cards. I managed to shoot some good wicket pictures, and not being an expert on cricket I relied heavily on CricInfo to help me caption my images.”

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Test Series First Test
Cricket – England v Sri Lanka – Investec Test Series First Test – LordÕs – 16/6/14 England’s Stuart Broad celebrates bowling out Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Pradeep (not in picture) only for the decision to be overturned Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“Another reason I’ve never particularly liked Test cricket is the slow and defensive style of play, but with England running out of overs and needing just two more wickets to win, it was getting interesting. Even with the half full Monday crowd the atmosphere was building. As Broad claimed another wicket, time was running out, and with just two balls remaining he thought he had bowled Nuwan Pradeep, only for the umpire to overturn the decision. The final ball was bowled and it was all over. After five days of play the result was a draw. If the teams had played like that last 40 minutes over the whole match I might get into Test cricket, but then I guess it wouldn’t be Test cricket.”

Sir Lanka at the home of cricket