Golf and Photography

I was reading the piece about Taku Miyamoto in TGJ and it really stuck with me. Dude shoots incredible photos. As a teenager I started showing interest in photography, but as sports began dominating my free time it was a hobby that soon was cast away. Obviously, those sports have now been replaced by golf and my general interest in course architecture and photography has spurred me to inquisition the refuge.

I’m lucky enough to have scored Wednesday tickets to Augusta this year, which I understand to be the best day for a golf architecture geek to visit the course. With the par 3 contest garnering much attention on the grounds I’ve heard that the main course is as undisturbed as it is all week, which would make for some KILLER pictures.

All of this to say, are there any resident refugee photography experts? I’d like to see what @djpie has to say as the defacto content capture czar for this platform. Ideally I want to find a camera that is small enough to fit in a pocket or a golf bag that I can just have in my bag to shoot anything that suits my fancy throughout a round of golf. Same goes for wanting to shoot decent pics at Augusta, as you never know when you’re going to be back.

I’m also not naive, I do expect the feedback that with the improvements in camera technology in cell phones that buying a digital camera is foolish. However, something about having a camera dedicated for higher quality pictures of my favorite hobby seems kind of like a no brainer…

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This is where my two interests collide.
My wife an own a wedding photography business, and naturally as my love for golf grew, my interest in photographing the game has as well. I also became bigley inspired when I started following the work of a photographer that lives near me, Christian Hafer.
While I have a huge case full of gear, I found that most of it was not ideal for walking the golf course. I have a film camera I take along sometimes, and I found that size of a camera was ideal. I do enjoy film, but wanted something digital for my day-to-day and travel usage. After tons of research, I ended up with a Fujifilm XT-20, and absolutely love it. Small, light, quick focus, and amazing photo and video quality. I have a wide angle 23mm lens, along with a 50mm, and find that covers pretty much everything I need. That combined with upgrading to the iPhone X, I’m good to go.

However, I have no idea what all they allow in the gates at ANGC. Most other tournaments do not allow cameras other then cell phones.
A few photos from the XT-20

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You guys are speaking my language! I grew up playing golf all my life and recently picked up photography in the last 4 years or so. I have shot photos at MLS matches for some publications, but I haven’t ventured out into golf photography just yet. This coming year I plan on creating a ton of golf content. Big fan of Hafer, he has been a big inspiration for me.

Regarding gear, the Fuji XT-20 is definitely a good option from @paul. If you don’t want to get a mirrorless with different lenses, some of the new point and shoot cameras that have been released take some amazing images. In that realm, I would suggest the Canon G7X ii or the Sony RX100 V. I’ve used the Canon and it’s great. There is a photographer I know who shot a Kendrick Lamar concert in NYC on the Sony and you would have thought he used a $3500 DSLR the images were THAT good.

Hope my above recommendations help you out with your search. Can’t wait to see what you capture!

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Lemme guess - SKC at the Cauldron?

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You got it! No better atmosphere in MLS.

Aw… I see you’ve never been here:
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Timber’s Army member?

Since 1975.

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Can’t hate on that. Portland has amazing fan support.

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In my quest for a powerful, relatively cheap “pocket sized” camera that’s more than just your average digital, I bought a Sony a5100.

Interchangeable lenses, mirrorless (so it’s small), and Sony has some pretty incredible/easy to use features like in camera editing and built in wi-fi to transfer pictures directly to your phone in just a few minutes.

Might not be quite pocket sized but it’s pretty darn close. Will easily fit into a small shoulder bag or fanny pack.
They can be found on eBay used in the $300-$350 range with a great kit 16-50mm lens that will more than suffice for some awesome ANGC shots if you’re trying to not break the bank.

I’m with @Christian on the “smaller form factor” play with Golf Photography

I went with the G5 Canon since it fits in my golf bag and gives me a digital view finder.
If you’re playing somewhere private or are a guest of someone, it’s tough to lug around a full camera set-up (plus it’s quite inconvenient). Having a smaller camera that fits in your golf bag makes life SUPER easy, and a good point-and-shoot is easy enough to use to share with other members of the group if you want a picture of yourself on the course.
Here’s what I got last season:

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And my favorite Golf photogs are Christian Hafer (Hafe Life), Jon Cavalier (Links Gems), Evan Schiller (evan_schiller_photography)

Post your shots here!!!

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Honestly, the equipment you use is less important than what you shoot. A $2k camera still takes shit photographs if its pointed at something boring. But point a shit canera at something interesting and it’ll take a beautiful photograph.

I’ve got a bunch of expensive equipment (and the glass is way more important than the body) but the best photos I’ve ever taken on a course were with my iPhone. It’s a shit canera, but it’s those moments when you happen across an interesting image and just grab it. I walk my dog at my club a lot in the early mornings and the shadowy, misty, lens flarey, contrasty views that throws up can be interesting. I took these yesterday:

Nothing special, and I pulled those off my camera roll without fucking with them, but it’s these moments when you least expect it that through something up.

If you can, get there super early as the sun is rising. If you’re lucky it’ll be frosty. And hang around for the golden hour at the end of the day. Play around with perspective. Find the details you don’t get in the wide shots of TV coverage. If you can, focus on people doing interesting things. I’d love to see a lone greenkeeper out swishing the frost or dew off a green before the circus arrives, the guy looking tiny in that huge amphitheater. Or the look of joy on a 12 year old kids face, pimento sandwich in hand, as their hero walks by.

Remember that professional golf photographers can take days to get one right shot, so go easy on yourself. You may just as easily come away with some great memories but no great shots. They’re mostly luck and patience. :slight_smile:

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I would agree with CAD.

Unless you are looking for a zoom to take player images then there isn’t all that much point in buying an expensive camera.

The main issue with taking images of a sporting event, is that you either need a long lens and decent camera to get sports action ($$$$$$$$$) or you need great light to get cool images of the course.

During the day, you might get some cool mono shots that you can play about with, or maybe some shots with some dappled sunlight coming through the trees. But for something you would want to hang on your wall, I’d say you want to work out roughly where the sun is going to set and find a hole with the setting sun left or right of that as a backdrop - could give you a great chance of an epic sunset.

My guess is 16 is going to have a good chance given that you can probably get quite a few angles from across the pond looking up to the green. And is obviously an iconic hole. 12 probably has too many trees around it.

If you want a camera recommendation, I’d look at the Fuji XT20. You can get a cool wide angle / prime lens (23 f2) that will be small and compact, great for walkround stuff, environmental shots and group shots of people. This will have the added advantage over an iphone of having better dynamic range for sunset shots and will print to a decent size very easilly. You can also do a bit more with the settings, if you were going to spend a bit of time learning.

You could also hire a longer range zoom if you wanted to take sports action.

If you do get a set up, I’d 100% recommend going and practising at a local course. You will be amazed at how good some of the shots you can get are if taken at the right time of day - even if the course isn’t a top place.

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Ooh this thread is right in my wheel house. I take photos for a crust, shooting architecture (non golf), still assisting a bit in advertising photo world.

Totally agree everything else said in here, I actually just bought a Canon EOS M50 the other day (still en route to my place) to keep in my golf bag. Without looking into it too much it seems like that’s basically Canon’s equivalent to the Fuji XT20 that’s getting a bunch of love. I had a play with the Fuji’s but I use Canons for work stuff most of the time so the M50 just felt right. There’ll probably be 5 cameras at the same price point with similar specs, just grab whatever looks/feels nicer to you, don’t get too techy, watching youtube reviews will destroy your soul.

Lens wise you don’t need anything crazy, I’m of the belief that unless you’re doing something super specific, sticking somewhere between 28-50mm (35mm equiv) will get you everything you need. Get the kit lens or a mid-wide prime and you’ll be happy.

Getting slightly off topic I’m about to start shooting a golf related personal project which should hopefully turn in to a book. Might be reviving this thread in a couple years time once it’s all shot.

and @paul, nice work!

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Came across this one the other day…
“A technically perfect photograph can be the world’s most boring picture.” - Andreas Feininger

Much like a golf course. A scruffy architectural gem will always be a heap better than a boring but perfectly manicured track. In my opinion anyway.

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maybe practice rounds are different, but you can’t even bring cell phones OR cameras on the Augusta grounds. Rory Sabbatini’s wife had me take a picture of her (and the leaderboard) with her cell phone in 07 (he was leading at the time) and officials almost kicked us out.

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All very good info here. @paul impressive work. Based on the info presented I’m teetering between @Christian’s G7X and @alexshreff’s a5100.

I follow #hafelife and Cavalier, their stuff is so sick. @The_Cad_Says good points. The photo you take is only as good as your subject.

@GRWhitehead you had me nervous, but I knew that I wasn’t mistaken.

So I should be safe.

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I was not aware that you can take a camera into Augusta during the practice rounds.
This might change everything for me, Wednesday might be preferred over any tournament round. I can’t imagine how giddy I would be walking around that place with my Fuji while everyone is over at the Par-3 contest. I wonder if they let you bring a camera bag with a couple lenses?

Yeah, sorry if I worried you. I looked up and saw still allowed during practice rounds. Apologies.

Just to note - the a5100 does not have a viewfinder.

It can be a little weird getting used to taking photos from looking at the screen, and not from looking through a viewfinder.

If you want something that will literally fit in your pocket, the Canon G7X is a great option and IMO priced right.
The a5100 will be more powerful with the option to get different lenses and have some better video capabilities, but may require a small shoulder pack or cargo short pocket as it’s a little thicker.
Really any camera you take will make it all an awesome experience!