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Technical

Eddie Keogh on the EOS 6D: using WiFi from the touchline

Eddie Keogh on the EOS 6D: using WiFi from the touchline

© Eddie Keogh

March 2013

Award-winning sports photographer Eddie Keogh has eagerly embraced the possibilities offered by WiFi and social media. He tells CPN writer Mark Alexander how, along with his EOS-1D X, the EOS 6D DSLR has helped him document the England rugby team’s Six Nations campaign on the O2 Instagram social media platform...

As photographers know only too well, technology doesn’t stand still for long. From the introduction of autofocus to the emergence of digital, the evolution of camera technology has been frenetic. Predicting what will happen next is like forecasting the weather – you know there’ll be plenty of it but you just don’t know when it will arrive.

© Eddie Keogh

The England Rugby squad arrive at Twickenham Stadium, UK. Taken on a Canon EOS 6D with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 105mm; the exposure was 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.

Some innovations deliver a specific benefit while others fundamentally change the way we do the job. With 30 years of photography behind him, sports photographer Eddie Keogh has seen fads and innovations come and go. Despite his experience, or perhaps because of it, he is well aware of the importance of moving with the times. These days, in the ever-changing landscape of professional photography, that means going social.

“Social media is getting bigger and bigger,” he states. “There is no holding it back. You’ve got to go with it. You’ve got to get in on these things right at the very start.”

Most recently, Eddie was contracted by O2 to provide imagery during the build-up to and aftermath of the England rugby team’s Six Nations campaign. The mobile phone and broadband provider has sponsored the squad since 2003 and wanted to engage with fans through Twitter and, more importantly for Eddie, Instagram. “O2 asked me to do some work for their social media,” he says. “They wanted to jazz it up a bit and get some quality pictures on there; it’s more about the stuff around the rugby like the fans, the colour and so on. Feature-type pictures.”

© Eddie Keogh

All the fun of the match! Taken on a Canon EOS 6D with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 24mm; the exposure was 1/125sec at f/3.5, ISO 1600.

He continues: “Basically, it’s before and after shots of fans and the stadium trying to show the atmosphere around the build-up to a big game – the stadium at 10 in the morning, for example, the linesman painting the lines, the first punters arriving having a drink before the game. It’s a general build-up to the whole day – it’s a lot of colour.”

The instantaneous nature of social media meant Eddie needed to transfer his images directly from the venues to the client as they were shot. Normally this would have been possible by attaching a wireless file transmitter to his trusty EOS-1D X and firing off the shots to a dedicated ftp site. However, in this case he opted to use the 20.2 Megapixel, full-frame EOS 6D. With WiFi file transfer capabilities built in, the 6D offered a practical and compact solution.

“O2 doesn’t have its own ftp server so it’s easier to email them pictures which they can then stick straight onto Instagram,” Eddie explains. “The way it works is I link the camera to a 4G Mi-Fi unit I have in my pocket - they talk to each other. My iPhone talks to the 4G unit as well. I use the EOS Remote app on my phone which I link it to the camera. All the pictures automatically pop up on my iPhone and I then send the selected full-frame, high-resolution JPEG images to O2 via email.”

The result is a stream of around 20 match-day images that can be published in near real-time capturing the anticipation, excitement and reaction to the English rugby team’s Six Nations performances. For O2, the quality of Keogh’s images adds a new dimension to their online campaign. For Eddie, the 6D’s impressive full-frame 20.2-megapixel sensor gives him tight control over depth of field and a crisp look.

© Eddie Keogh

Eddie sends his images back to O2’s Instagram desk, using his iPhone paired to the EOS 6D via the Canon EOS Remote app.

Despite the fact the images will only be viewed online, Eddie shoots in high-resolution to provide his clients with the best possible quality. In terms of image size, the 6D provides more than ample resolution. “Whatever it is, it is way too much,” says Keogh. “It’s not going on the side of a bus.”

With a choice of 11 AF points, powerful DIGIC 5+ processing and a tough, lightweight construction, the 6D is ideal for range of situations and photography applications. In this case, however, its WiFi capabilities are what makes the 6D stand out from the crowd. “I use the same lenses, just a different camera,” says Eddie. “There are 5,000 reasons why you should use this camera, but for immediacy, it is just fantastic. It is a very good piece of kit.”

The 6D may have WiFi, a full-frame sensor and expandable ISO making it great in low-light, but the job of producing distinctive images that will capture the imaginations of the social media generation is more than just about speedy file transfers and background blur. It relies on image quality.

“When you’re shooting sport, it is sometimes difficult to frame an image because you don’t know where the action is going to happen,” explains Eddie. “But if you’re shooting fans, flags or stadiums, you are totally in control. You can fill the frame which means you’re not loosing any quality. When you send the image off, the client has the whole frame to play with. They don’t need to crop other than to size it for Instagram, and that can produce some interesting shots.”

© Eddie Keogh

Battle scars...Taken on a Canon EOS 6D with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 70mm; the exposure was 1/500sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600.

Although Eddie is renowned for his evocative sports photography – he picked up the Sports Portfolio accolade at the 2012 SJA British Sports Journalism Awards – the images he has produced for O2 are as equally impressive. Full of humour, colour and that all important ingredient; passion, they capture the fervour that O2 enjoy being associated with. That ongoing relationship will take Eddie to the summer Barbarians test and on to the autumn internationals, with each game providing an opportunity to further consolidate O2’s bond with sporting excellence. With Eddie’s images sparking interest online, that bond will go from strength to strength.

Regarding the use of imagery in social media, Eddie is philosophical about its role. “People love looking at pictures especially if they are travelling to a game or sitting around waiting for it to start,” he says convincingly. “If they see anything different or something they like, they’ll favourite it or get ideas about creating their own images. It’s promoting photography, so I think we should encourage it.”

As if I needed any further convincing, he cites the NFL in the US. “It has an Instagram page and it has something crazy like over one million followers.” He checks online and discovers it actually has 1,266,767 followers. “Not bad for Instagram is it?” he says.

It is early days for O2, but the logic of refining and improving its social media strategy is qualified in the number of followers amassed by the NFL. Images will play a key part in communicating with this new and engaged audience. WiFi and the ability to publish images directly onto social media platforms will be a key component in this brave new world with the 6D leading the way.

Biography: Eddie Keogh

Eddie Keogh

UK-born Eddie is a freelance photographer shooting sport and sport features for Reuters. He previously worked as a sports photographer for national newspapers from 1986 to 2005.

Married with three daughters, he now lives in Oxfordshire and still travels extensively in his work. He has a passion for sport and at the age of 50 has just hung up his own football boots.

Eddie covered his first Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA, at the age of 21 and including seven World Cups he has photographed almost every sport ever invented. In 2006 he won the Barclays Premier League Football Photographer of the Year award, in 2009 and 2010 the Sports Journalists Association (SJA) Sports News Picture of the Year award and also that year the UK Picture Editors Sports Photographer of the Year award. He won the SJA Sports Picture Portfolio award again in 2012.



Showcase

The supporters get ready. Italy v England Six Nations match in Rome, Italy, March 15, 2014. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 50mm; the exposure was 1/640sec at f/11, ISO 200.