Making of: Sports Photo Contest Winner

"European Champion Synchronised Swimming 2012"

By PF Staff in Photo Contests on Jan 27, 2013

Last May I had a chance to use the Pentax 645D for some time. An opportunity I got from the Dutch representative for Pentax and my shop FotoLooman. Initially I thought I could have it for a long weekend so I was shifting with the time so that I could get it on a free weekend. I had a lot of accreditation for various sports events in that period, which is my main subject for photography. I ended up having the 645D for 15 days and had a nice set of lenses to use with it as well.

This image was taken at the European Championship Synchronized Swimming 2012 held in the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium, which is the National Swimming centre of The Netherlands and is located just 15 km from my home. This is an image from the final Combination (group of 10) held on the closing day for the event on Sunday evening. This is in the small pool where also the EC Diving was held, but still this is large for the 645D and the FA*645 300mm F4 lens I had for his event (this lens compares to a 160mm lens on a K-5). The image could use a 400mm lens, but I also could use more light to work with. This image was taken of the European Champion Spain, which was the favorite from the beginning of this tournament. So I practiced on some of the other teams to get my working that evening sharp for the right team.

Equipment & Settings used:

  • Camera: Pentax 645D (on monopod)
  • Lens: FA*645 300mm F4
  • Shutter speed: 1/400th
  • Aperture: F4.0
  • ISO: 1600 (with expanded dynamic range)
  • Shooting Mode: TAv
  • Metering: Centre weight.
  • File Format: RAW, DNG
  • Color Space: AdobeRGB
  • White Balance: AWB, in LR -> 5850K and +32
  • Camera temperature: 33 degrees Celsius. 


  • Well, this is a crop from the image, since my lens was to short for filling the whole frame. Obviously walking closer wasn’t an option since I already was sitting next to the pool. All other photographers where sitting on the diving tower, so these images are the only ones taking from the ground floor.
  • I applied some noise reduction and added some clarity, increased brightness save for the for hi-lights, and added contrast. I was at the limits of what the 645D can do: at top ISO while using ony 1/400th of a second which is about the slowest shutter speed you can use for a sports photo like this.

I also had my K-5, K-01, and Q with me during that period. I made some images with K-5 and DA*300mm so as to get closer. The K-5 wins on high ISO and options, but not for capturing this part, since it was not in my hands! I used the Q to capture some movie of the game and the K-01 for capturing the interview that Spain gave after the game for Eurosport (just lurking in the mixed zone).

Movie clip: 

I also made a cover image for this trip:

- Ron (RonHendriks1966)

Editorial note: this photo won the November, 2012 "Sports" photo contest.

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