Sunday, July 29, 2007

WNBA: Washington Mystics vs Seattle Storm

After Monday's auditions of the Wizards Dancers I was looking forward to some basketball on Tuesday night.

During the day on Monday I thought about a 400mm lens and on Monday night I decided to purchase a used 400mm/f2.8 AF-S lens from a photographer on SportsShooter. Unfortunately PayPal is extremely slow in moving money from our bank account into our PayPal account so my seller probably won't ship it until next week.

Al's still on vacation this week so he offered the Mystics shoot to me. I was looking forward to it because shooting basketball is so much fun. And since I was in Verizon Center the evening before I had some time to think about what settings to use for tonight's game.

I reached Verizon Center early and had plenty of time to get my laptop set up and to take a few test shots from out on the corner. Unfortunately the network configuration changed again. In the past the media relations people have posted the username and password for the network on the dry erase board inside of Verizon Center.

Eventually one of the technicians came by and helped another reporter with his network settings. While he was helping I listened in and applied the same settings to my environment. That's one of the nice benefits of being a full time software engineer and system administrator: I understand a lot about computers, networking, and wireless. As a result I'm pretty good at getting my laptop working (as long as I have the proper username and password!)

I headed out to the court and noticed that the other photographers (AP for the most part) had already claimed their spots on the close side of the court. Rather than actually being out there waiting for the game to start they instead plunked down their makeshift seats. This was kind of frustrating because I was hoping to get a good spot on that side of the court. But there wasn't any room for me because it had already been claimed.

I made my way down to the far end of the court and claimed my spot out as far from under the basket as possible. I'm still shooting with my 70-200 lens and it's really difficult to shoot under the basket at 70mm. It's just too close for many of the shots that I'm taking these days.

I spoke with another photographer named Carroll who was there for a friend who couldn't make it. He was shooting with a Canon and he sat next to me out on the 3 point line. He was telling me that he shoots a few Maryland games but mostly shoots up in the Baltimore area. I mentioned this blog and the DC Sports Box and invited him to come take a look at my photos.

A fan in the crowd came up to me and asked if he could purchase some of my photos. I said that I didn't know the regulations regarding the selling of our photos but that I would ask somebody and get back to him. I didn't think that we could use our photos for commercial purposes and it turns out that I I was right: credentialed photographers can only use their photographs for editorial purposes.

I decided to try to shoot this game at ISO800. ISO1000 is pretty noisy, and Verizon is really bright. I've also had a lot of success at lightening my photos in Aperture in post processing. I decided not to use EV correction like the last game. I wanted to try just using ISO800 and 1/400th second shutter speed with 0 EV correction to see how it looked.

It turned out pretty well. I didn't have any problems with stopping action at 1/400th second, and the ISO800 is certainly less noisy than ISO1000. I'm going to continue using ISO800 and 1/400th for my next shoots, but I may use some EV correction just to see how it performs.

I stuck with group weighted autofocus and it worked extremely well. I also adjusted the time delay for refocusing and set it to "long". I had very few out-of-focus shots, and virtually no back-focused shots. This is absolutely great in comparison to when I started off shooting basketball at Comcast Center. I used to constantly get focus on the crowd and not the players, and that pretty much never happens any more. It occurs from time to time, but it's pretty rare.

The shoot went pretty well, and the two teams provided a lot of great chances for photos. One player in particular scored 47 points, a WNBA league record. Fortunately for me she kept driving right in front of me and I took quite a few photos of her.

I noticed that several of the other photographers under the basket were shooting using 18-55mm lenses. That's what I've been thinking I should shoot with during these games. Use a 70-200mm for the long shots at the far end of the court and a 18-55 for shots under my basket.

But I also noticed that the AP photographers on the far end of the court were using 70-200mm lenses when the ball was under their basket. This surprised me because they own 18-55mm lenses. It looked like they were using 300mm lenses for the far end of the court and 70-200mm lenses for under the basket. The next time I'm at a game I'm going to try to talk to another photographer and ask them what they use for under-the-basket shots.

I also recognized the female photographer from the Dance Team auditions the previous night. And I recognized a photographer from the AP. I think his name is Nick. He was at the Nationals game on Sunday. I suppose it's something of a small world for sports photography in the DC area.

There's a Mystics game this coming weekend, and maybe if I'm lucky I'll have my 400mm lens by then. There are also a bunch of Baysox and Nationals games the following week. I'm sure that I'll have my lens by then and hopefully I'll get some good chances to try it out.


Post a Comment