Summer returned just a day after the dampness of Keighley Cougars and by my second match of the weekend on Sunday it was positively hot with wall to wall sunshine. This was ickledot's third match photographing the women of Leeds Rhinos, possibly their sternest test of the three: a cup semi-final, away to Wigan Warriors.
The match was played in the Robin Arena, a small stadium close to the home of Wigan Athletic Football Club. There was a reasonable crowd of supporters for both sides, most of them a distance from the playing area, separated by a wide running track.
I say the Rhinos were 'reasonably' rampant as Wigan certainly challenged during phases of the game. However, Leeds, scoring first, never really looked uncomfortable or threatened. This was reflected in a final score of 26 to 8. A great performance showing superior speed, fitness and decision making. There's a slightly more detailed description of the match than mine here.
The final is to be played against Castleford Tigers 4 August, rather weirdly way over west in Warrington (Cheshire), thus making rather a long journey for both sets of players and supporters.
My decision making was not quite as accurate as the Rhinos and I was 'on the ball' for only one of their scores, one of the two tries notched up by Caitlin Beevers. However, I was pleased with quite a few of my action shots, particularly ones taken from the side of the pitch with the action moving across rather than towards me.
As mentioned previously, my long distance shots are taken with a mirrorless Olympus OMD-EM1 Mk2 which I've had for almost a year. Its 300mm lens is equivalent to 600mm on a full frame camera so it certainly has the range. In the bright light of this match the F4 aperture was more than ample although the ISO tends to shoot up alarmingly in darker conditions.
When the camera locks focus it's very sharp indeed although I think it still struggles to hold on, more than, say, my other camera, a Canon DSLR. This is perhaps why mirrorless hasn't yet fully caught on with those who photograph fast movement. There are definitely aspects of the camera I really like though and I'm determined to persevere with it.
All the images apart from the try are taken with the Olympus. There are more shots from the game over in the ickledot shop.