I’ve shot the sumo wrestling tournaments a few times but had never been to a morning practice session. Thanks to John Gunning, I got to go along this week.

Apparently someone much more famous than I had cancelled on going to the sumo practice with my friend John Gunning. So I got their seat. Nice.

Kiyosumi-shirakawa is a neighbourhood I go to fairly often, because it’s eclectic, interesting and not so far from where I live. I’d never really noticed that there were sumo stables there. So it was cool to find out there’s another reason to love the area.

Morning practice for the sumo is a superb thing to visit. For the uninitiated, there are a few rules to get your head around but anyone who is naturally polite, quiet and well-mannered will get on fine.

Sitting cross-legged for three hours and not going to the toilet requires some focus. I’d recommend not drinking to much coffee before you go. I’m glad I hadn’t.

We had a good spot to shoot from, right next to the ring. I took just a couple or three lenses: 50mm f/1.2, the 135mm f/2 DC and an old manual zoom; the 36-72mm f/3.5 E. Proved to be a good mix. The lighting wasn’t too bad so I was basically shooting at 1600ISO the whole time and with the larger aperture lenses keeping the shutter speed up around 1/640sec.

I shot with two of the Nikon Picture Controls I have: Monochrome 2 [higher contrast, sharpened, red filter] and the Kodak Ektachrome P [pushed saturation, crushed blacks].

All these shots are straight from the camera, simply converted to JPEG from the RAW files using Nikon Capture NX-D.

Looking forward, via John, to a long and productive relationship with a couple of sumo stables. It was a great intro. I like sumo anyway but seeing the practice has put a new spin on it for me and I gotta say…. much respect to these guys. They work hard.