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Combat Challenge: December 2019

Early on Sunday morning I got a phone call from Saif at Combat Challenge, wanting a photographer. His usual guy was taken ill and they were wanting a replacement as soon as possible.

Combat Challenge is a mixture of MMA, boxing and K1 kickboxing, so being an avid fight fan I jumped at the chance. A quick blast of power to the batteries, format of the memory cards and I made the short journey from Leeds to the Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford.

Walking in the hotel I was surrounded by nervous fighters pacing around waiting for the fighters brief to begin. Finally tracking down Saif, he quickly briefed me on what shots he wanted documenting throughout the day and showed me around the hotel.

I got myself familiar with the arena before heading back upstairs for the fighters briefing and registration.

Saif went over the order of the day as the fighters tentatively eyed each other up, passing it on to the head referee to remind the fighters about the rules.

A few of the fighters still had to weigh in before everyone signed the waiver and registered for the bouts.

Upon registration all the fighters received a Combat Challenge tshirt as well as the appropriate gloves for their discipline.

With everyone signed up, the fighters headed off for their final preparations and I headed down to the arena to test out some camera settings.

With a couple of the younger fighters familiarising themselves with the cage, I took myself to get familiarised with some compositions.

While getting the correct exposure it was clear capturing the action was going to be a challenge.

Luckily I had the 50mm f1.8 in my camera bag, so decided to utilise the wide aperture.

I dropped my shutter speed to 1/800 and pumped up the ISO to ISO20000. I slightly over-exposed the shots by about 1/3 of a stop, as I have found by bringing back the exposure and crushing the blacks a little, helps with noise reduction, far better than using a lower ISO and correcting in post production.

The DJ fired up the music, the punters started to flood in and the crowd began to take to their seats.

With everyone settled down, the ring announcer announced the fighters one fight at a time, while I captured the cut man checking the fighters over, and applying Vaseline to their faces before they stepped in to the cage.

It was then a quick scramble to find a position to capture the action.

I had a ladder to get up and over the cage, so mixed up my angles from above as well as cage side.

All the action images were captured in RAW and with the following settings:

Shutter Speed: 1/800 | Aperture f1.8 | ISO20000.

After each bout I stepped in to the cage with my second body coupled with a flash, which I bounced off the white ceiling for a softer effect. capturing the referee raising the hand of the victor, as the ring announcer called out their name.

I then gathered the winner along with their coaching team for a quick group portrait.


A massive thank you to Saif of Combat Challenge for asking me along, respect to everyone that stepped foot in the cage and I hope all you fighters enjoy looking back at the videos and images, head to the Combat Challenge Facebook page and YouTube channel to view, and keep your eye out for future events.

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