Thursday, April 11, 2013

Save The Knees!

When shooting sports, I find that the lower I can get the better the images look. I don't know if it's because it's easier to see an athlete's eyes from a lower perspective or whether it's because a low vantage point exacerbates an action "look". Whatever the reason, shooting low generally means shooting on your knees (although I've been known to lay down on the ground or on the court for a shot). Younger shooters may not have reached that stage of life  where the knees are starting to go or have long since left the station. Me, I have a torn meniscus in each knee and the less wear and tear to which I subject my knees the better. That's where a few bucks can make all the difference in the world.

McGuire-Nicholas Foam Easy Swivel Knee Pads - $10.97 each at Home Depot
Knee pads have been part of my shooting equipment for several years. After trying out several pairs I have settled on the ones above manufactured by McGuire-Nicholas and available at any Home Depot. These puppies are light, comfortable to wear for hours, and give me enough padding to make a world of difference when I am shooting football, golf, or even basketball on a hard wooden floor. Another option are the slightly more expensive knee pads that have gel padding which I have also used. While they provide even greater comfort due to the gel layer they are heavier and a bit more cumbersome. Either choice will make a world of difference if you decide to give shooting low a go.

The Digital Photography Book, Volume 3
I've suggested knee pad use to friends over the years to rave reviews. One of those friends is Scott Kelby who has joined me from time to time in shooting sporting events. On Scott's first visit to Tallahassee to shoot a Florida State football game, he noticed my knee pads and asked what in the world I was wearing on my knees. I explained why I was wearing knee pads and I gave him my sales pitch.

I found out later that Scott became a knee pad convert and bought a pair as soon as he returned home.  Like me, he swears by them but I had no idea what a devoted convert he had become until he sent me a copy of his just-published book, The Digital Photography Book Volume 3, with a note to check out Page 157. It's always nice to know something you shared has made life easier for someone else.

Fiskars Kneeling Cushion - $5.95 at Home Depot
An alternative to knee pads for indoor sports is the Fiskars Kneeling Cushion. My wife has had one of these for a long time when gardening and one day I borrowed it to shoot a volleyball match. From that point on, one just like it has been in my bag whenever I know I'm going to be shooting stationary in an indoor setting for an extended period of time (e.g., shooting basketball or volleyball). The cushion serves the same purpose as the knee pads but also serves a second purpose - if I leave the floor for any reason, it's a reminder to others that the spot where the cushion sits is taken.

Knee pads and cushions...a very small price to pay for comfort.


JC Ruiz said...

After shooting the University of Miami Hurricanes football games last season I realized that knee pads were a must. I'm actually going out to buy a new pair for tomorrow's game. Glad you turned Scott Kelby on to using kneepads.

Sue Hickton said...

I decided I needed something a couple of months ago - after having to be on my knees shooting macro's for over 2 hours on a salt lake, with heat over 45oC. I am just tooooooo old for this now. Thanks for the tips. Didn't even think of the hardware store or gardening section for this!