Meet Laurie Wiltshire. Laurie is one of our many incredibly hard-working Canadian athletes. When I first met Laurie, she was ranked atop our woman athletes and held Olympic aspirations. 5 years later, due to myriad of reasons, her goals have changed. Potentially nearing the end of her competing career, she asked me if I would photograph what might be her last Senior Nationals competition.
The support given by local clubs, friends and family is excellent. However, like many of her peers who follow a grueling regimen necessary to compete on a world stage, they must also work a full time job or two to help make ends meet. When Laurie is not training, coaching, traveling and competing, she’s punching the clock as a baggage handler.
Laurie is a very technically proficient fighter. Going through the photos after the fight, it amazes me how little her facial expression changes. It’s usually very calm – directly opposite of her opponent’s!
She made fairly quick work of 3 opponents during the elimination rounds, en-route to the finals. The match went on for longer than we’d seen her previously take, and led to a few anxious moments before ending in dramatic fashion with Laurie winning the gold. Judo is an exciting sport which I constantly found difficult to predict the outcome. Quite often, the flow and accumulated points changed in an instant.
Although not mathematically out of the running for the Olympics, she must continue to win tournaments as well as hope that others falter. Should be a hell of a finish, one way or another.
If ever you have an opportunity to shoot an available-light event at the Mayfield Trade Centre, don’t. Run away. The building is an antechamber that sucks away what little light is available. The incandescent pot lights are few and far between, and hang high above from the rafters.
With Judo, as the fighters are often hunched over and grappling with each other, you’re also shooting into the shadows created by the athletes themselves. Although the situation absolutely begs for some fill flash, I can’t think of a quicker way in which to get thrown out! These are not people you want to piss off.
Although the extra light given by a 50mm 1.4 would be sorely needed, it doesn’t get me close enough. Back to the trusted 70-200 2.8. However, at an ISO of 2500, the venue is barely allowing for 1/60th shutter speed. Although you could technically get sharp shots of a stationary subject while hand-holding, Judo is far from stationary. I locked in at 160th and fired away.