Cale Byers

Oregon Middle School Wrestling

March 10, 2018


Album link with photos should be available soon, and pics will be for sale. Check back in a couple days....


After browsing the photos, let me know which ones you'd like to buy. Once you send money, I'll remove the watermark and upload high-resolution files. If you'd like to purchase a print-release, you'll have the freedom to make prints. Otherwise, it's forbidden to make physical copies of my photos.

My experience

This was my second year photographing the tournament, but this time I tried focusing on emotions and people rather than purely the wrestling. I still ended up getting lost in the action, but sometimes I'd take a break and look for nice pictures off the mats. It was a pretty exhausting day. I was shooting from 9am-7pm, a span of 10 hours. In between, I ate some food, went to the bathroom, and sometimes sat down looking at photos. I took a break to publish this blog post, thinking it would be important. But then I got impatient and didn't continue changing my site. So now I'm editing this and working on the pictures back at school.

It's a lot of fun running around, but I need to do things differently. I made every effort to avoid shooting matches that other people already had covered. It's not necessary, and I shouldn't be getting in the way of someone who has a camera. Very rude. I'm sorry if I did take anyone's spot or get in your way. My goal was to take as many nice photos as possible, and when I remembered to look, I would check the crowd for cameras. Most people with cameras only cover their child's matches. I'm covering everything for 7-10 hours, and so it's likely that somtimes our paths will collide. Feel free to say something. It's okay to ask me to move if it happens. Waving around a big lens doesn't entitle anyone to be somewhere taking photos, contrary to popular opinion.

Another thing to do is move less. I moved way too much. Too much up and down, taking a knee, shooting a couple pics. I'm very sore now. Kneepads will be a thing next time. I think in the future, I'll get a few great shots, then take a break. And if people want me to photograph a particular match, I'll do it for a good price - around $20-50 depending on what they want... and video is another thing to consider. The only reason I'd discount is because it's guaranteed money rather than taking a bunch of random shots and selling them at higher prices. And if I know I'm being paid, I'll take more photos, zone in, and compeletely focus on that match. Which means better quality.

Photography Gear

For anyone curious, I shot the event with the Sony a7 and some manual-focus prime lenses originally meant for film cameras. Using adapters, it's possible to shoot them digitally. Most shots were with the Canon 85mm f1.2, and the other with a Konica Hexanon 57mm f1.4. They have their own quirks and benefits, but I really miss having a fast zoom autofocus. Last year, I shot with the gorgeous Sigma 50-100mm f1.8 on my Canon Rebel T5. It was cool, but I ended up having lower quality images overall. The crop-sensor is extremely noisy, and wrestling matches are some of the worst environments for lighting. Upgrading to the full-frame Sony a7 meant I could blast the ISO up to 2500 without worrying about noise. I tried to keep it under 2000, and that's possible with f1.2, 1.4, 1.8, or 2.0. There are no fast zooms under 2.8, but then again, I'd rather have shots perfectly focused every time.... but I can't afford the $4,500 Sony a9 and their $2,500 zoom lenses... so it's a trade-off between noise and sharpness. I could stop down to 2.8, 3.5, or 4, and more of my pictures would be sharp at the expense of higher noise... and to be completely honest, I don't think anyone would care too much. Noise from 2500 to 4000 isn't really that big of a deal.. perhaps it's foolish to miss shots. But in the tight spaces, you need to be under 2.8 to have good subject separation... at f4, I'm sure most pictures would be very boring, not to mention the higher noise.

I've gotten much better using the manual focus, but the lenses are so precise and spread out... it takes several turns to move the ring, and when wrestlers get very close very quickly, you don't have time to pull back your distance. The Canon 50mm 1.4 would have been nicer, because it moves faster. The 57mm Hexanon is incredibly soft at 1.4, so it's best around 2 or 2.8. Now that I know this, I'll probably only shoot it wide open for a pastel, airy look.. perfect for certain subjects or moods, but not for wrestling tournaments. However, it handled the flare and ghosting better than the Canon lens, but it's not as sharp.. by changing position to avoid the open doors and bright lights, flare wasn't a significant issue with the Canon.

I brought a 28mm Minolta lens, and it was absolutely useless. The Konica 40mm was also not really useful. Next time, I could get by with a sharp 50mm and crop tighter. But I like having the 85mm 1.2... When it works, it's gorgeous... it's just tought to nail focus and have enough room to breathe.... Had I been shooting a 70-200, I think most of my shots would've been about 70-100... but who knows... maybe the extra stretch from 100-200 would have proven useful. At a tournament with matside access, there's no need to stretch, but then you can cover other matches without moving so much... I'm sure it'd be nice, but I'll stick with my current stuff.

However, I might want to be more protective of the 85mm. It's meant for portraits and studio work - not sweaty sports venues or poor weather days..

I'm off to sleep and will get back to the photos later this week.