Well, the summer break seems to have been particularly long this year but it's almost coming to an end. A new rugby union season, 2017-18, is so close you can just about touch it. The playing's actually begun, with preseason fixtures occurring all over the place. Just to get into the spirit, and also to try out some new gear, ickledot headed off to Ilkley.
The first team were playing Blackburn Rugby Club. The Lancashire side are in a north west league which is a rung or so lower in the structure than that of their hosts. Still, they competed well throughout and actually had most of the possession towards the end of the game, as Ilkley replaced their starting fifteen with wider squad members.
The damage had already been done points wise though as Ilkley built up a considerable first half lead which was never likely to be overcome. Encouraging for the upcoming campaign which is only a fortnight away.
Regular readers will recall the post about Ilkley's first sevens festival a few weeks ago which Ilkley went on to win. Well, since then they've gone on to far greater things, winning the national sevens championship no less. Congratulations to them for that magnificent achievement.
The new gear? Well, it's all part of a gradual transition from the DSLR to its smaller, lighter equivalent, the mirrorless camera. As mentioned previously, my main camera is a Canon 7D Mkii with a 70-200 lens which serves me well for mid-range and close action. For a couple of seasons I've been wanting also to have a lens for longer distances and close ups of players who are a bit further away than the 70-200 can reach. Anything longer with a wide aperture in the Canon range is hugely expensive and hugely huge and heavy to carry. Problem with mirrorless cameras previously has been their inability to focus continuously on a moving object, e.g. a player.
Now, I think I've found one that can: the Olympus OMD-E1 Mkii. First impressions are positive and the lens that I bought with it - 300mm (600mm full frame equivalent) - is also excellent. Whether its f4 aperture will cope with our gloomy winters remains to be seen but so far so good. At some point I'll try and give a longer explanation as to why I've gone down this route but for now, very happy.
Another exciting summertime happening is that Gilbert Rugby - the manufacturers of rugby balls and other rugby equipment - is using some of my photos for its social networking during the Women's Rugby World Cup! How great is that? So far I've seen three I think, on both Twitter and Instagram. Keep a look out as I think they're going to be used beyond the tournament itself (good luck to England in their semi-final against France tomorrow btw).
Going back to Ilkley and Blackburn, you can see more pictures from the game over on Flickr. Have a great week!