Inside the ropes at Dundonald
An insider’s look at a day in the life of professional golf photographer Mark Alexander.
On an 18-hole course, such as Dundonald Links, is there a strategy you bring to the shoot?
Every hole is shot and most holes will be shot from a number of different directions using different lenses and types of light. I tend to shoot early in the morning and late in the evening. Different light provides different story-telling platforms as each hole will look different in the morning compared to what it looks like in the evening. The way the shadows fall across the fairways or the way the saturated light falls onto the green creates a different emphasis on the design, which, for a beautiful course like Dundonald, you really want to highlight.
What is a day on the course like for you?
Dundonald was shot at the start of October. Although the weather can be a little bit more changeable in Scotland, it can also be quite beautiful at this time of year. Number one, the light becomes lower in the sky which gives you beautiful saturation and great colours, and also, it stays lower in the sky longer through the day. Fortunately the sun comes up a little later, so I’ll be out on the course by about 7 am and then the sun comes up by about 7:30 am. I normally won’t leave the course until about 6:30-7 pm at night. In the middle of the day, there are a few points when the light is too high in the sky so that’s when I nip off for a bit of lunch and a breather. By contrast, in the summer when the sun is up very early, I have a good period of light at the start of the day (from 4.30am onwards) and at the end of the day (until about 9.30pm). During the late morning and early afternoon, the sun becomes too high in the sky. Thus during the summer, the good light is bookended to those two periods. In the winter, these periods of good light almost merge together making it a longer day.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use canon, and have all my life. On this shoot I was using a 5D Mark II and 5D mark III and my main lenses were a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Is there much to be done to the photos after you’ve taken them? What kind of processing do they undergo?
I shoot in raw, which provides me with the greatest quality of image possible and I process them in what is called the digital darkroom, in much the same way as old films were processed. The main purpose of that is to reproduce what I saw in the field and to produce a file to the highest possibility standards. It takes a bit longer to do it this way, but I think it is worth it. My objective is to convey what I saw when I was on the course – it is certainly not to put in any detail that wasn’t there originally.