Prefocusing to New (Pole Vault) Heights

Jackson prepares to hurtle himself over the bar.

Count me in among the fans of auto focusing. My 56-year-old eyes don’t see as well as they used to, so why not use my Nikon digital SLR’s automatic features to get better photos?

He lets go of the pole.

But there are times when prefocusing on an object is a better bet when it comes to action photography. Like pole vaulting.

Over the bar!

At the #2 son’s track meet last week, I found a perfect position to shoot the pole vaulters. Except that I had trouble keeping them in focus as they planted their poles and soared over the bar.

What goes up must come down!

So I manually focused on the bar with my Nikon 70-200mm lens and let the athletes jump into the f/2.8 focal plane. Success!

Dustin is almost ready to clear the bar.

Pole vaulting looks more like a vertical photo op due to the pole.


The vertical aspect does give more of a feeling of the heights the athletes cleared.

Michael is on his way to the bar. His eyes look closed, but they're really staring at the pole.

I prefer the horizontal perspective, though, because it makes it easier to see the pole vaulters’ faces.

About to clear the height

Unfortunately, sometimes those faces gets obscured by the pole . . .


. . . or the athlete’s hands.

At least Michael’s face is in focus . . . what you can see of it!

8 responses to “Prefocusing to New (Pole Vault) Heights

  1. Very Sport Illustrated-like, if you ask me. Good job. Action shots are tough.

  2. Great pics…so these were done using the auto setting on the camera?

    • Jan, there’s not an auto setting on my SLR! Even if there was, I’d use aperture-preferred. I like setting how much light is allowed in, while the camera determines the shutter speed. But I always watch the shutter speed to be sure it’s fast or slow enough for what I’m shooting.

      I usually use auto focus, though. Unless I’m shooting something like pole vaulting!

  3. Spectacular!

  4. These are amazing and fabulous!

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