Stunned by the beautiful game
Peter Crouch cuts a striking figure on the football pitch at the best of times and when recently asked to train the UK Sony ‘Twilight Football’ team ahead of their big game on the 22nd September, the outcome was some simply stunning imagery. (Editor’s note – continue reading to see the ‘stunning imagery’… but have somewhere handy to put the hair you tear out)
Peter Crouch training the UK team: photo by Guy Levy, Canon 1D MkIIn, 24-70mm f/2.8 L Canon lens, 1/500th at f/8, ISO 200.
The upcoming sporting event from Sony called “Twilight Football” has been set up to do just that, capture some beautiful imagery of the beautiful game, whilst demonstrating the low-light shooting capabilities of Sony’s new range of cameras and Handycams including the Cyber-shot TX1 and WX1 models, the Handycam TG7 and the DSLR A550.
Twilight will form the magical backdrop for five-a-side football games commencing at one side of the world, and concluding at the other on 22nd September, the time of the autumnal/vernal equinox – when twilight is at its longest at any given point on the planet.
Amateur footballers have competed to take part in matches around the world and the team of successful UK applicants were awarded the extra honour of being trained by England footie legend Peter Crouch.
Peter Crouch kicks a football. Photo by Guy Levy, Canon EOS 1D MkIIn camera, 24-70mm f/2.8 Canon L lens. 1/4000th at f/4, ISO 200. (Click this picture to open a full size file and see just what the original is like)
Eton College football pitch was chosen as the training ground to continue the theme of stunning backdrops chosen for each match.
Peter Crouch commented: “It was a fantastic experience working with the UK winners of the Sony Twilight football competition. They are a dedicated, tight knit team and it was my pleasure to coach them ahead of their upcoming match in Australia. I’m sure with a little more practice at twilight they will sharpen up their reactions and be the champions of their game next week.”
About Twilight Football
“Twilight Football” will create a series of spectacular twilight images captured using the latest photography equipment from Sony. The images will be used in various print and outdoor advertising.
The first game will start as twilight begins in Italy. The instant a light sensor determines that darkness has fallen, the same game is taken up in France. And so it continues, through Spain, the UK, Argentina and Australia until the final whistle blows in South Africa. The entire match will last for around four hours and forty minutes, involve seventy grass-roots players and nine world-class FIFA officials.
To add to the drama the “Twilight Football” matches are scheduled for some of the world’s most photogenic spots. They include a floating platform in Venice, King Arthur’s castle in Cornwall, the Iguazu Falls in Argentina (80,000 gallons a second dropping down a 300 foot chasm), the Pinnacle Desert (a fifty degree sweat in a parched landscape made up of weird limestone pillars), and finally South Africa where the game will be played at a private game reserve called Aquila.
The campaign has been designed to promote Sony’s unique Exmor R™ CMOS sensor technology which has an exceptional capacity to capture detail in low light, and since mixing low light and fast-moving action presents one of the toughest challenges to photographers, “Twilight Football” will truly put the technology to the test.
Twilight has long been an inspiration to artists and photographers, and this whole event will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture exotic shots in beautiful locations, at the most beautiful time of day giving new meaning to the idea of the “beautiful game”.
Catty comment from DK:
I disliked the whole concept from the moment I heard about it. Simple errors – such as the statement that the autumn equinox produces the longest periods of twilight anywhere on Earth – are annoying (there’s a reason why Scotland is famous for ‘roaming in the gloaming’ and why Iceland is a fantastic place to visit in early June or mid-July). Seeing a massive budget spent on what appears to a concept derived from someone’s personal fantasy is sad. Then being sent the pictures accompanying this release, with glowing superlatives describing them?
I felt almost sick. I should sell all this Sony gear, forget the whole photoclubalpha thing, and just buy a kit from Olympus – at least they have, in the UK, consistently supported the best in photography for four decades and show no sign of losing their discerning eye despite today’s restricted budgets. I am becoming embarrassed to be seen using a camera system associated with this kind of hype. Not only that, it’s football. Do you see hundreds of DSLR cameras – or indeed any cameras – in the hands of a crowd of football fans? Do you learn of footballers or WAGS taking a great interest in photography?
And to me twilight does not mean sunset (as seen in the snaps provided with this press release). It is the period after sunset when the sun is only just below the horizon, and (typically) the atmosphere with clouds or stratified layers reflects a diffused light. The bipolar colour of this ‘glow’ – red and blue from different directions, often augmented by more red reflected from clouds – can be outstandingly beautiful. Someone may have called football the ‘beautiful game’ but that, I am sure, was never a reference to its aesthetic. Football is visually chaotic, marred by essential sponsor advertising, hardly improved by team strip and branding. Some stadiums are works of art but you’ll be hard pressed to see any of the architecture in football photography. The chances of getting real ‘beauty’ from this extravagant advertising venture are slim, and the chances of getting nothing worthwhile at all (see above) are considerable.
There is so much worthwhile that Sony could do. If this is an attempt to court what Americans call ‘soccer mums’ (we don’t have that in Britain, we have soccer dads!) then the five-a-side teams of adults won’t hit the mark; this is an entirely different game.
Now if Sony had come in to support international and British Rugby Sevens that would have been a different game – in every sense. In need of funding, played in beautiful locations like the Welsh and Scottish Borders, New Zealand, Pacific Islands… highly photogenic and highly accessible for amateur and professional photographers alike (unlike football which actively bans entry with cameras, and seeks to control the access and usage rights granted even to national press staff).
But whoever dreamed this one up or approved an agency pitch at Sony clearly has one big interest – football. Pity that interest is not photography instead.
– David Kilpatrick
Added after comments:
Please don’t think I’m anti-football! I have sought out and photographed football – the type I like to see, on the beaches and in the streets – many times when travelling, and all too often at twilight. Kids playing outside the medina walls of Moroccan towns – in the yards below Silves castle – on Butterfly Beach in Barbados (tourists versus locals, the locals themselves prefer to play cricket). But I will post here a real example of twilight football, without apology for using one of our daughter’s shots. In a summer vacation felucca journey up the Nile with a friend, she took the brand new Minolta Dimage X to write a report for Minolta Image magazine – which she did with enthusiasm.
1/850th of a second, 7.5mm, ISO 100 at f/2.9 (maximum aperture) on programmed auto (probably Sports setting). The foreground is cropped off (scruffy shore), she was on board the felucca tied up at the bank and some of the lads off the trip had gone ashore to play football with the crew and locals. I guess the donkey was just great luck and perfect timing – pity that the camera only produced 2 megapixel JPEGs!
For me, this is what football is REALLY about internationally. It is a language which people who don’t even share a few words in common can understand. Just the names of star players or favourite teams, and a few gestures or expression, can be a conversation between strangers. A game like this – a real twilight game (actually exactly 30 minutes before sunset, according to the Nile sunset which follows it in Ailsa’s image folder) can be a great impromptu bonding, battle, celebration and memory for everyone.
My grumpy ramble is not directed against football, and I would not have reacted as strongly had Sony sent anything which really qualified as ‘stunning’ imagery. I sincerely hope they do better when we see the final results in a day or two. And I hope they do better than a 20-year-old student (psychology not photography) roughing it on a Nile adventure.
Here’s another of Ailsa’s shots taken the next morning – I do not know the full story but they had all piled their cameras on to one guy. Now this is what the photographic market is really about. All these kids had cameras and several had SLRs (it was 2002, pre-DSLR era). Travel, friends, places, people, stories, activities, things – recording their own lives. A few years on, new waves of college kids are still at it – see Facebook and Flickr for evidence. Will Sony really reach today’s market with Twilight Football?
They could have involved the entire world. There are real twilight football games like the one Ailsa photographed, happening right now without the aid of corporate invention. Sony could have created an open competition for images of real football and had entries from thousands of photographers round the globe. A book, an exhibition, a website?