Jan 25, 2013

Friday Featured Photographer - Robbie Rakestraw

This week's featured photographer is Kaufman County based Robbie Rakestraw.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Robbie on several occasions at sporting events and can confirm he is a great guy.  He was helpful with some tips on using strobes for basketball when I was first getting into shooting high school sports.

"I have two boys (13 & 18) that are both very active in sports," he said. "I found it very challenging to capture good images of active subjects, especially when they were in dark dungy gyms and nighttime games played in the great outdoors.  That challenge sparked a quest to capture the perfect action shot; proper exposure and white balance, no motion blur, and a compelling composition.  I’m still chasing that 'perfect image."

Shooting sports, especially high school night games, just getting a crisp action shot can be hard.  Robbie added the following tips to get the best shots possible.
"Shoot as low to the ground as you can get.  A low position makes any athlete look more majestic," he said. "If you don’t have long glass (big telephoto lenses) be patient and let the action come to you."

Like any good sports photographer, Robbie knows that there are great pictures to be had besides the athletes...

Sports photography naturally led to shooting portraits as well, but the sports influence seems to come through there as well.
"I started shooting high school seniors due to repeated requests by parents and students," he said. "This genre of photography allows me to be creative with natural and strobed (off camera) lighting.  I offer a combination of studio and outdoor locations.  I like to match the location with the subject.  If they are athletes we go to their field of play.  I always try to include action shots along with formal shots in an attempt to capture the true spirit of the subject."

While photography is his passion, Robbie manages to fit in another 'regular' full time job into his schedule as well.
"I do have a full time job that keeps me away from my photography more than I like, and I also shoot for MaxPreps (CBS Sports)," he said.  "My biggest challenge is finding time to process my images after a contest.  This past football season I shot 45 high school varsity games along with numerous varsity volleyball matches and middle school football games.  I’m currently shooting soccer and basketball and the baseball season starts next month."

Shooting one or two games in a week is time-consuming.  45 games in a season is a serious commitment of travel time, wear and tear on your equipment and carpal-tunnel syndrome in front of the computer.

As you might expect, sports photography requires a hefty bit of gear in the camera bag.
"I’m a Canon shooter, and I generally only carry one camera body, which is a Canon 1D Mark IV," he said.  "If I’m lucky enough to get a day game, I will carry a Canon Mark IIN as a second body.  My go-to lens for most field sports is the Canon 400mm f/2.8 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 on the second body.  I will also carry a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for post game shots.  For softball I will use my 300mm f/2.8.  At volleyball and basketball games my primary lens is the 70-200 and sometimes the 300."

Robbie can be reached through his website, www.r2images.com.
He also posts a lot of recent highlights on Facebook.

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