Hello Friends and Family,

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Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, Part 9

A penalty was called and the official used a wand of some sort to pick up the ball without dismounting. The team that was fouled was awarded a penalty shot. These are taken at a distance from the goal determined by the severity of the penalty. The severity also dictates whether or not the offending team may attempt to block the shot.

After the penalty shot missed, they were off and running again.

Whether you are a fan of polo or not, there is something enjoyable about just watching the horses and players galloping across the field.

And I have to confess that the size of the polo field and the speed of play present real challenges to the photographer. First, you need a long lens or, as I use, a zoom lens with a long maximum focal length (300 mm).

Second, you need to set your camera to shutter priority — otherwise everything will be blurred. It helps to have a nice sunny day — I was lucky.

Third, you need a nice steady hand to hold the camera still to minimize blurring. Vibration reduction in the lens helps too. Some photographers might employ a tripod or monopad but I just went with bracing the camera against my body.

But sometimes everything is moving so fast that you cannot help but get a blurred image. If some of the image is sharp, you might even like the result — as in this case. Not everyone will like it but if you, the photographer likes it, that is all that counts.

As I viewed the images on the computer once I got home, I found greater appreciation for the skill of the horse and rider as evidenced in shots such as this one where the rider is leaning way out of the saddle to hit the ball on the run.

During the course of the match there were certainly a lot of races — two or more players going for the ball.

Another good shot from a moving platform with the ball some eight feet or so below the player's eyes. That takes some real eye-hand coordination.

And then there were shots where the player had to lean to the left size to hit the ball with the mallet in his right hand. Remarkable.

Of course the goal is to drive the ball between the posts. This day the orange team dominated and was the eventual winner. I hope you enjoyed this trip to the polo championship — I know I sure did.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com